Let’s open a can of worms.
Recently I was asked by a church member, “Shouldn’t we focus our time being more Biblical and less relevant?” I’m smart enough to know he didn’t care about being Biblical, or relevant. His “question” was an attempt to publicly discredit some of my recommendations. Nonetheless, he represents a growing number of influential church leaders who use the term “Biblical” as a defense mechanism against becoming missional and relevant.
Many congregations are growing increasingly polarized over the topic of relevance. Most people opposed to the idea of relevance are actually opposed to change, and their weapon of choice to defeat relevance is to claim it is not Biblical. This could not be further from the truth!
The historical challenge facing the church since its birth has been to bring the timeless principles of God to the unique context of the culture in which the church finds itself. In other words, it’s to deliver Biblical truth in relevant ways.
The challenge facing today’s church is we have inherited a system which has neglected the historical challenge for several generations. The result: intentionally delivering timeless Biblical truth in relevant ways is a foreign concept to many. It’s also why about 80% of churches are currently in a state of plateau or decline. More importantly it’s why about 90% of churches haven’t recorded any conversions over the past 12 months.
Think this through: zero Kingdom growth is the result of churches efforts to “be more Biblical.” Some examples:
Christians have been charged with going to the people with the Gospel of Christ, yet most churches focus their efforts on getting the people to come to them.
Scripture calls Christians to be a people characterized by faith-filled radical self-sacrifice, yet most church members adamantly argue to preserve what makes them comfortable.
God’s plan for Christian leadership is that they prayerfully discern His will for their church. Yet, most church leaders will pray the Lord’s Prayer in church, not my will but Thy will be done; then they will go into a meeting and argue for two hours over what THEY want.
So, can a church be both Biblical and Relevant? Better Question: Can a church be Biblical without being relevant? I don’t believe it can. Yet, for many, the term relevant seems to be a stumbling block.
Solution: replace the term relevant with the term missional. After all, delivering timeless Biblical truth in relevant ways is what missional is all about. When Christians begin to see themselves as missionaries, then the church battles between Biblical and relevant will fade into history.
Better still: when more Christians see themselves as missionaries, the third largest mission field on the planet, the Untied States, is in for a revival of epic proportions!
Alan Chandler is a Consultant Partner with Church Doctor Ministries, a full-service church consultation ministry dedicated to helping Christians and churches become more effective for the Great Commission, to make disciples of all people. Alan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org web www.churchdoctor.org