In traveling back from Bowling Green one night last week, we passed a church sign that had this phrase, which I am sure they hoped would attract the attention and attendance of those who passed by: "Relevant Messages." That is one of the buzzwords of the past decade in terms of church growth--relevant messages. And in an attempt to "get people to come" pastors have shifted their focus away from the gospel and "equipping the saints to do the work of ministry" to "Seven Steps to Being a Better " or "Three Steps To Handling ."

My first area of concern is that if pastors have to spend so much time and energy trying to come up with creative ways/gimmicks to make the gospel/Scripture relevant to people's everyday life, then they don't understand the Gospel/Scripture because the Gospel/Scripture is the only thing of any eternal relevance in life. One of the most effective things a pastor and church can do to be relevant to its community is to faithfully preach/teach/live the gospel and all of its implications in every area of life in front of the community that God has placed it.

A second area of concern with this focus on "relevance" is that someone whose eyes are blinded to the truth of the Gospel and whose heart is spiritually dead does not have any conception of what is really relevant and we must not as a church allow lost "seekers" or lost "church members" for that matter dictate the focus of the church based on what they "feel" is relevant.

John Piper recently gave a great word on this whole issue of relevance:

As a preacher, I think a lot about relevance. That is, why should anyone listen to what I have to say? Why should anybody care?

Relevance is an ambiguous word. It could mean more than one thing. It might mean that a sermon is relevant if it feels to the listeners that it will make a significant difference in their lives. Or it might mean that a sermon is relevant if it will make a significant difference in their lives whether they feel it or not. That second kind of relevance is what guides my sermons. In other words, I want to say things that are really significant for your life whether you know they are or not. My way of doing that is to stay as close as I can to what God says is important in his word, not what we think is important apart from God’s word.

That's the kind of relevance that is important to God and it is that kind of relevance that I as a pastor and we as a church must aim for if we want to truly make a difference for the glory of God as we treasure and share Christ together. So, let's be relevant!

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