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November 15, 2013


Ken McFarland

Many dictionaries define “relevant” as something like, “having a bearing on or connection to the matter at hand.” As the church tries hard to appeal and attract through relevance, perhaps it’s aiming too wide of the target.

Is relevance entertainment – in which people are immersed all week anyway through TV and their tech gadgets? Is relevance music of either the “high church” stained-glass, operatic variety? Or of the “worship-song” variety with its rather superficial and repetitive lyrics? Is relevance either a cathedral-style message that follows a pre-printed script – or a happy session of emotional cheerleading that leaves an audience temporarily stirred but not challenged to will and action and real change?

Perhaps the church can save itself by abandoning finally its insistence on sharing with people what it thinks they need to know – and doing instead the hard work of finding out what people are truly thinking, feeling, searching for, and needing. People don’t leave the church without reason – they leave because they came searching and did not find, so they move beyond the church to continue their search.

And for what are people searching? Fulfillment of the deepest and most basic needs we all have: love, acceptance without judgment or condemnation, affirmation, connection and community, participation in worthy endeavors, authenticity, knowing that one is needed and valued, a safe harbor in a life of assaults and harshness, and especially – the satisfying of the deep hunger to know God and to know HOW to know Him.

If the church can wean itself of its failing efforts to attract through surface enticements and “go deep” to connect with the most urgent needs driving all people, it will draw in both young and old, believers and skeptics.

People still seeking in Eastern religions, the New Age, atheism and agnosticism, and other alternatives will find the attraction of a powerfully personal Jesus and those on Earth who choose and follow Him, to be what they have been searching for all along.

Bob Mason

"being the church", the literal and spiritual gathering of believers as conceived by Jesus and the apostles, that would go a long ways . . .

Thanks for a great article, Loren.

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