One of my favorite CDs is a self-titled work from a little known Canadian artist named Jill Paquette. The song that I’ve like the most is titled Not the Only One. Musically it’s good in an organic kind of way. But more than that the heart behind the lyrics. She’s saying something that’s hard and disruptive and knows she’s not alone. Check it out.
I have those things that make me restless: tensions from observations, feelings that something of substance has gotten lost in mass popularity, misplaced focus that detracts from the real stuff of life, Jesus, the gospel church and genuine fellowship. When it gets under my skin and I just gotta say it. Sometimes I put myself out there and am relieved when others chime in and I learn that I’m not the only one who thinks so.
Following my post last week on cultural relevance, I’ve encountered some really cool posts that seemed to have come out of the woodwork basically echoing the same thing.
Out of the ones that have emerged, I really appreciated The Beauty of Being Irrelevant. The author points out that the most relevant thing we can do is be ourselves and bring the counter-cultural truths of the gospel to light. It’s ok to be different, it really is.
Why Relevancy is Completely Irrelevant succinctly brings this central truth home, “If the church would just give people what they need, then we would be eternally relevant.”
Top 10 Reasons Our Kids Leave the Church cites relevance as a reason. Trying to be hip and cool to relate. But it has by and large failed.
But here’s what else I think that all these articles highlight and don’t think I’m the only one. People ache for hope. They encounter struggles, dilemmas and temptations. They want answers, real answers with substance. They may initially be attracted to the coolness of relevancy but when it doesn’t address what they need, they lose interest. To counter that with more relevance will ultimately fail. And that’s where the contemporary church has erred because it’s not what we need.
We need Jesus and his body and a place to grow and rest. We need the fuel of God’s word. We need that explained with clarity, not gimmicks or cute stories. Give people the gospel and genuine discipleship and let the Lord do his work. The ones who have not trusted in Christ will trust in him because that’s who we’ve presented and the Father woos them. The ones who have already trust will learn to trust in him more. And people are not stupid. They’ll ultimately pick up the disingenuousness of contrived methods to attract them. And they will weary of superficiality.
I can only hope that we step back and start assessing how much faith we’re putting into shiny buildings, slick methods and marketing techniques. And maybe stop it and start trusting in the power of the Holy Spirit to do his job as we just stick to basics and give people what they really need.
And I’m not the only one, who thinks so.