Is the church relevant today?


Table of Contents for: Is the church relevant today?

A Techie church with outside speakers, satellite dish, large screen and strobe light. Is the church relevant today?
An imaginary Techie church with outside speakers, satellite dish, large screen and strobe light!

Rapidly changing times, is the church relevant today?

Is the church relevant today and should the Church change to attract more people through their doors?
Is it relying on gadgets and technology to attract and keep the people?

Things are changing so rapidly, so should we stick to our traditions, or cast them aside?
TV Commercials tells us:

  • new improved
  • new ways
  • new methods
  • new discoveries
  • new breakthroughs
  • new records broken
  • new and better techniques
  • smaller, better, and more compact gadgets
  • super improved products, etc.

How much of this has come into our Christian thinking?
We are told that we are in an ever-changing society.
The old ways are out of date, we’ve got to have new methods, and better techniques.
How can we make church relevant today for this 21st Century?

Does the Church need to modernise or keep doing it the old way?

Some people will be violently opposed to such change, others insist that we are failing God if we don’t use all the latest things.
Who is right?

Can we make the church relevant today so younger people aren’t turned off by church?
We want to put across the Christian Faith in such a way that people will stop and listen.
Also, that they will, by the power of the Holy Spirit, be enabled to understand it.
But the way we ‘present’ this is an area for disagreements.

What is the message and the method

Peter & Jackie presenting a message. Is the church relevant today?
Peter & Jackie presenting a message.

The first thing to do is to actually separate the message from the method and look at them as two distinct parts:

Our Gospel message (which is the message of the whole Bible – the whole counsels of God) does not change.
See the article: What should the Gospel message be?

To reinforce the idea about the preachers message being right, I found a short article on the BBC News website September, 2001 [i] which was taking the lead from Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, the head of the Catholic Church in England and Wales, who said that Christianity has been ‘all but eliminated’ as a source of moral guidance in people’s lives.
It wasn’t this that I found interesting but it was in the comments of that article:

I think the church should stop trying to portray the teachings of Jesus as a source of moral guidance and try ‘the source of life’.
After all that is how Jesus put it.
You don’t just find relevance in God, you find the reason for being.
We were born to be friends of God.

Naomi, UK [i]

That hits the nail right on the head!
It’s not about ‘moral laws’. Christianity is not about obeying laws to gain salvation.
May the preachers speak out about Jesus’ saving grace and forgiveness.
To demonstrate the non-Christian viewpoint here’s the next comment:

It’d be great if we could all be how God wants us to be but that is never going to happen.
One or two rules to live your life by is good.
But the Bible promotes thousands.
And if breaking even one of these rules means eternal damnation then we’re all going to hell for sure.
Why follow rules you don’t believe in?
Seems to me like Christianity is creating an unnecessary strait jacket.

Sarah, England. [i]

So the modern church needs to have a relevant gospel message based on the old Biblical truths, but not have old fashioned language.

Our methods may change to relate to a society that is very different from a few centuries ago, and even from a few decades ago.

Christians are using the Internet as a means of reaching out to people, which is good.
‘Power Point’ is used to give more visual presentations which can either enhance the speakers points, or be a total distraction to what the speaker is saying! (I expect we have all experienced both of these).
Sound effects and different lighting with audio and visual effects can be used.
Also drama and dancing is not uncommon.

Worship, or presenting the gospel, or both

The second thing to do at our Church events is to sort out whether we are having an act of worship, or an event which will be aimed at non-Christians.
I’m not saying it is wrong to have unbelievers in a worship service (From my own experience, I discovered the reality of Christians singing hymns in worship to God in a small chapel and it was at this point that I was really challenged to believe in Him).

am saying that we need to be aware of what our aim is, otherwise it becomes a confusing mishmash of worship, presentations, special effects, etc.

I believe we need to be careful not to go too far into giving ‘presentations’ when it is a time for worship.
Otherwise the danger is that people will ‘watch’ rather than worship, or follow everyone else in copying their actions without the heart being involved in worship.

Technology at Church events

Technology is brilliant if it is used well and helps to fulfil the aim of the event.
Quite often technology can sit very uncomfortably within a service if it has just been pushed into it.
There is a need for someone to stand back and rationally look at it.

There is also a danger with technology to put the methods on a higher level of importance than the message itself.
If the technology is offered as the initial attraction without a good message, the people will come for the technology until there is a bigger and better place to go to.

If it becomes the focal point it can lead to a lot of hype with no substance.
Technology is not wrong in itself, but it must point towards Jesus Christ.

Traditional services

Communion table with cross. Is the church relevant today?

How many people hang onto traditional formats because that is a ‘safe’ place for them?
The congregation know what is going to happen next.

That may be okay, provided we aren’t putting God in a box and dictating to Him what happens.

In services like this, enthusiasm and emotion can be frowned upon. To challenge that stance, listen to what Jesus said:

You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet.”

Luke 7:45

Is enthusiasm in church services centred on God?

It’s good to have enthusiastic people, but we need to remember this:

It is not good to have zeal without knowledge, nor to be hasty and miss the way.”

Proverbs 19:2

It is not good to create excited people without a foundation of Biblical knowledge.
Without the latter the work won’t be strong and won’t last into eternity.

In an atmosphere of huge enthusiasm it can be difficult to question what is going on, because it can be seen that the zeal is being quenched.
But remember a zeal without knowledge is dangerous.

True knowledge is getting a balanced understanding of the Bible, which creates true and everlasting zeal.

References:
[i] ‘Is Christianity still relevant?’ BBC News


3 responses to “Is the church relevant today?”

  1. Hi Paul and thanks for your comment.
    I agree.
    Technology needs to be the servant of the substance – the message.
    Feel free to post my blog,
    thanks
    Peter

  2. Greeetings my brother, You must have heard my friend and I having this conversation the other night…. You hit the “nail on the head” as they say. I totally agree. We are seeing churches that are more interested in the way they present a message than the message itself. They forget however that the Gospel has power all by itself” It needs no modernisation, back up or surround sound to help it move. All it needs is a humble preacher who has nothing but a word from heaven, who can’t stand still.

    By the way I do appreciate your kindness in posting my blog the other day.. That touched my heart. Thank you my brother. I will gladly do the same for you if I may by posting an excerpt of your blog, probably this weekend.

    Thanks

    Paul.