How is the "Hip" evangelical church doing at attracting and keeping young folks coming? HERE is the WSJ story.
Relevance is supposedly the intersection of what "we" have to offer, and what someone is hoping to "get" when they come to church. That's why so many churches get caught up in silly marketing schemes and do stunts to get folks to come and watch the performance.
I heard a speaker start a sermon with these 3 questions: "Do you have an opinion about the church?" Does God have an opinion about the church?" "Then what do you need an opinion for?"
Everyone has thoughts and ideas about the church - even me - read my blog. We always hope that church will some how keep up with the times. Hymns are pretty much out, organ music; virtually gone, suits and ties, and the "Sunday Best" is only needed on Easter and Christmas - we've changed a lot in my 50 years here on the planet. Even the mega-church founders are getting old, and somewhat stuck in their ways.
So here is my list on what the church needs to do to be relevant again, and maybe even grow.
-1 The Gospel: We need to preach the "full gospel" - the part about sin, the part about repentance, the part about sacrifice, the part about serving, and the part about our loving supernatural God.
The gospel is about so much more than a loving God or burning in Hell, getting saved, eternal glory and some superficial relationship with a God that we are too limited to relate to in any meaningful way.
The Gospel is about power over death, about you and me loving the unlovable, and serving others with your spiritual gifts.That is how you achieve your destiny in Christ. A gospel that offers a promise of anything else is incomplete or a compromise. The Kingdom of God is at hand!
-2 Diversity of Gifts: If there is one thing that warps my crankshaft, it is leadership that does not embrace ALL the gifts (Romans 12, 1 Corinthians 12, Ephesians 4), discourages the use from fear and/or lack of understanding, or; at the very least ignores them altogether.
God did not ask us if we thought healing was for today - He said do it. He did not ask us if we thought tongues sounded like baby talk, He said He would interpret. He did not ask us if we'd like to prophesy, He said desire the gift. He did not ask us if we thought the demonic was scary, he said cast them out!
I have written a lot about the gifts of the Holy Spirit. They are available to each one of us as God sees fit to distribute them. They are to be DESIRED by you and me. The spiritual gifts are not a pig fest, we don't get them all. It keeps us humble, and forces us to rely on the body of Christ (and Christ, as all gifts rely on Him) for a complete relational experience.
I hate to say it, but without a solid understanding and modeling the Ascension Gifts described in Ephesians chapter 4, we will be unlikely to have unity, and those that we lead will be immature and susceptible to false teaching.
-3 Prayer: Yeah, I know, you pray when something goes wrong, the car breaks down, the president does something you don't like, when folks are sick, and your loved ones are in trouble. But what about prayer for your church, your pastor, the other ministers in your midst, a move of God in your house, holiness, repentance, forgiveness - it's just a thought - maybe you could ask God what to pray about? The sheep know His voice, right?
Did you know that prayer is the easiest way to commune with God? There are a thousands of books on how to ask God for stuff. 66,038 at Amazon alone! There are only about 100 on hearing God's voice.
We talk, we ask questions, and then we listen. That's real prayer - a conversation with God.
-4 Relationship: How Christians continue to be ignored for weeks on end, or so inclusive that they don't notice anyone else is lonely around them, is beyond me.
I am talking about sacrificial relationship, going the extra mile, calling when you don't feel like it, visiting the sick, mentoring a troubled teen, and inviting folks to your house for dinner - the gay neighbors, the guy whose dog craps on your lawn and one that keeps you up at night with loud music.
If we can't relate to those on our own street, how can we do anything for God somewhere else?
-5 Love: If "they will know we are Christians by our love" then maybe we need to do something deeper than what we see in the movies and on TV?
We are not called to be nice, the church "nices" folks to death everyday. We are called to be kind, patient, to give up being rude, proud and envious. We are called to protect, inspire hope and persevere in difficult relationships.
Thin about it, when you don't feel loved, what's missing? There's your first clue.
-5 1/2 Be led by the Spirit