When Being Relevant Becomes Irrelevant

Relevant.pngToday, I want to talk about a buzz word and what I believe is actually a curse on our current church culture: relevance.
What I often hear in and around the church world, and ministry in general, is the need to “be relevant” – that we need to ensure our message meets people where they are at and that it’s “relatable.” It’s then often tied to some new cultural trend that we need to “utilize to reach a new generation.”
Now obviously, at a certain level, this is both obvious and necessary. Jesus met us in our world, and it was certainly both relevant and pertinent to our lives. We need to continue to live and change with our world and where it is moving. So, in this sense, yes, we need to be relevant.
But, in another very specific sense, there is a problem with pursuing relevance in that “being relevant” has moved from the sidelines to the centre. And, whenever relevance becomes the marker of faithfulness or success, that becomes a problem. Because the church is first and foremost not called to be relevant, but rather to be faithful.
Please hear me clearly, this short little post isn’t calling church to be irrelevant. What I am trying to say is that the arbiter of success, the point of a church or the meaning of a church has never been in its relevance, but in its faithfulness. And, I believe that when a church is faithful to its calling, it is incredibly relevant to all of our lives. But, when a church is just trying to be relevant, it does not ensure that it will be faithful.
What I’m seeking to write and bring to our attention is a point about priorities. Relevance is a great thing when it follows faithfulness; it is a disaster when it drives faithfulness or function.
So, what does this mean for all of us today? It means, if you are older and don’t get social media, that’s okay. Be faithful. It means, if you are younger and know all the cool cultural trends and memes, that’s okay. Be faithful. It means, wherever you are at, the focus shouldn’t be on “being relevant,” hip or cool, rather it should always be on being faithful. And, that’s a hard thing, but it’s also the most relevant and life-changing thing.

Change, Control, and Our Lack of Both


I want to ask you one simple question today: “Are you being faithful?”

This is possibly the most important question you can answer in your life, job, calling, and relationships.

The somewhat harsh reality of our lives is this:

  • We can’t change anyone
  • We can’t do as much as we wish we could
  • Things get difficult and dark sometimes at the worst times
  • We aren’t in control as much as we would hope

This is the reality that we live in.

I think deep down we know this. We know that trying to force a 17 year old to change is next to impossible. We know that if we could there are so many people, situations, and lives we’d love to be involved in. We know that there are more needs around us than we could possibly meet. We know that life happens and for the most part we can’t control any of it. But this reality isn’t a reason to be apathetic or hopeless, because there is one thing that you can control. There is one thing you can change: Your own life.

We might not be able to change others, control the world around us, or fix the hurts of our friends but we can still act. We can focus on being faithful friends, spouses, parents, and family members. We can focus on doing our part in that friendship or relationship. We can focus on meeting the needs God is calling us to. We can focus on being faithful to what God is calling us to do.

We don’t need to do everything possible to make an impact. We simply need to be faithful to God’s calling.

So today I want to ask that question again: “Are you being faithful?”

Think through your role as a parent. Think through your role as a spouse, a friend, an employee…whatever. Are you being faithful to what God is asking you to do in that relationship? If you can say yes…then trust that God will do his part of healing, leading, guiding, and giving grace.

Our responsibility has never been to fix everything, to change others, or control the world. Our responsibility is to be faithful…so focus on that today…