Whenever I spend a lot of time among those who are very unfamiliar with what following Christ is about, I think about relevance. What do I have that would be relevant to this group of people? Since they don't care deeply about the things that move me deeply, how can I remain in their conversations on what they care about? I'm not always up-to-date on some things, like clothing (not because of my faith, because of my dislike of shopping, but my faith gets the blame anyway). How can I be relevant?
Without relevance, people will not see why following Christ matters.
What are my choices?
- Work really hard to become like them enough to make myself relevant in their eyes.
- Persist in what I think is relevant and hope they get it.
- Rest in the idea that "the Gospel is always relevant," and not overthink this.
To be honest, I'm not a big fan of any of these options in isolation. But I think each can help.
I should keep myself abreast of what matters to those without Christ so that I can speak into what piques their interest. But I don't want to try to "become relevant" - I'm not a hipster, for example, and for me to try to become one could become the next Stephen King movie.
I should keep my feet firmly planted on what is relevant to me and invite people into it. If I don't, what will I communicate about the relevance of the Gospel? But I need to make sure what's relevant to me is the Gospel, and not churchy-ness.
And I should remember that the Gospel is always relevant. I may or may not present it in a way that's relevant, but the Gospel itself is relevant. I can rest in that, trust that, and expect that to be what captures people.
Our task is to know people well enough and to listen to them closely enough so that we can reveal the relevance of the Gospel that is already there. But the last thing I need to try to "make the Gospel relevant." That's how it becomes changed.
(image: By www.Pixel.la Free Stock Photos (feet-hipster-longboard-skateboard) [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons)