In our efforts to make contemporary church more “relevant,” we are in danger of becoming more concerned with what people want than with what God wants. The concept of “relevant church” is borne out of good intentions: If we give people what they want, then they’ll come to church, right?
Let’s provide for people’s needs, and then we’ll have more people in church, and they’ll hear the Gospel. It’s a logical argument.
A friend, who comes from an area near some very large, seeker-sensitive churches, shared with me recently. He said his experience was that people who were in the most need— who really wanted to encounter God and find His supernatural help— would go to a humble little church, farther away, on the wrong side of the tracks, where it was reputed a person could meet with God, simply and powerfully.
I’m not trying to make an argument for small churches over large ones. I’m not saying it’s wrong to be sensitive toward those seeking God, though I think compassion is a better quality to possess than sensitivity.
What I am arguing for— what we at Iris contend for, day after day, with all our might— is the simple, fundamental, undiluted Gospel. This is what I believe to be truly relevant. The Gospel is relevant because what people lack more than anything else is power. They lack the power to change, to break enslaving habits, to live better, to save their own souls. And what the simple, undiluted Gospel has in abundance is power. The power to transform. The power to change lives and break habits, the power that enables people to live better, fruitful lives that transcend their own needs.
“My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power” (1 Corinthians 2: 4).