I was thinking today that if some of the big names in children’s ministry stepped into our church for a weekend, they would probably find us alarmingly irrelevant. Not that we do not try to be relevant, but if they were to step in, they might see our efforts as failed. We have no coffee shop, no bookstore, no lounge. We don’t accept credit cards and we have no visitor table. Our pastors wear suits and ties and we still sing hymns out of a hymnal (we also sing newer songs with a worship band and computer slides, but during every service you will hear at least one hymn). Our church logo is a very simple piece of clip art and our website is hosted through a free service and built by an amateur using a template.
In fact, the more I thought about it, the more embarrassed I got. As a church, we have tried really hard to reach out to our community and to grow the kingdom. But we still have yet to be relevant.
But then, I realize, we are beautifully irrelevant. In fact, our very relevance to our community is that we are not trying to operate like North Point, Willow Creek, or even Cedar Valley Church in Warsaw. We are establishing our identity in a way that is unique only to us, in a community that is uniquely ours. Sure, we look at other churches strategies and evaluate whether or not those strategies would be effective and then brainstorm how to implement them into our church, but we never model our program after someone else’s. We model the program after what our people need and what we have been commissioned to do by the Gospel.
You see, our town is not relevant in the sense that relevance now pertains to doing the newest and most technologically advanced thing. Our buildings are old (“historic”) and our economy is struggling. This town is relevant in that it is our home, our school, our community. It is where our friends and family live.
I think in some cases, relevance has become associated with trends and fads, even in ministry, instead of with the nitty-gritty details about who people are and how to best minister to them. As a small church, we cannot chase after every new thing or every new ministry model, because we do not have the resources. We cannot build the fanciest facilities or the coolest hangouts or use the latest curriculums. In these ways, we are very irrelevant. What we can do is look at who we are trying to reach and look at what strategy we must implement to accomplish that. We must do these things with the excellence that is expected of the larger churches, but not the same way as the larger churches. In this way, I believe, our church has established its relevance in our members’ lives, and more so established the relevance of Christ to their life.
I would much rather our church be relevantly irrelevant than irrelevantly relevant. What are your thoughts on this?
*Image source: http://www.churchstagedesignideas.com/ribbon-dance/