This week two events that passed through my life were added to the dozens of events the past few years that once again drives me to my knees asking the question: Can the church ever be relevant again?
This article has nothing to do with numbers, attendance, denominational decline its about what the church is actually doing week to week, month to month in America. God will insure there will always be a church but the question is will it really matter.
This old young man has been around and involved in many different style churches the past thirty years and have experienced many different central focuses. Pulpit driven, volunteer driven, social outreach driven, missions driven, small group driven, worship driven, healing ministry driven, etc.
Oh need I forgot the events. The first one was as I was watching “Game Day” on ESPN last Saturday. I noticed three fairly large signs placed prominently behind the game day crew that were yellow with black print proclaiming boldly not John 3:16 but the following Sign 1: CONSIDER JESUS ALONE; SIGN 2 CONSIDER JESUS THE CHURCH IS A JOKE; SIGN 3: CONSIDER JESUS. I was thinking the zeal involved in this project was at best time intensive. In able to get their position they had to arrive by sunrise if not sooner then maintain that position for the next 7 to 8 hours. The second event was the resignation of a pastor from one of the largest and most socially outreach driven churches here in Nashville due to burnout.
Both of these events scream to be that the “church was not or had not been relevant to the needs of their lives.
Both dealt with the absence and the need for the one process that can make the church relevant again DISCIPLESHIP or as I like to call it APPRENTICING with Jesus. The people with the signs were calling the masses who tune in to “GAME DAY” to CONSIDER JESUS which has many connotations. They were in effect saying get with Jesus ALONE let Him apprentice you, disciple you. The burnt out pastor was saying essentially the same thing in a different way. He was saying I am empty, I need Jesus, I need to go away and be His apprentice. It made me think of Eugene Peterson’s rendering of Matthew 11:28-30 in the Message:
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”
The pastors message was I am tired, I am worn out, I need to get away with Jesus and recover my life. I need for Him to show me what rest looks like again. I need to be inhabit His unforced rhythms of grace, I long to live freely and lightly again. Master Jesus I want to be your apprentice take me to your shop and work with me.
A church that intensely focuses on this process is a relevant church. Jesus said so period. Matthew 11:28-30, John 15:1-8, Matthew 28:18-20.
Sadly a truly apprentice driven and focused church is not currently on the landscape in America. A complete change of mindset on security and survival must be undertaken for this transformation to begin to propagate within the church across the land.
All the formulas of modernity must be abandoned and the strategy outlined by Jesus fearlessly undertaken in everything the church does.
In a few days we will begin to put some meat on these bones as we detail the process and describe how relevance within the church can look.