My wife recently sent me an article on why millienials are not involved in church. It seems that every day, I read another thought on why the church isn’t relevant to a new generation and what we should do about it (I seem to recall reading similar articles in the 80s about how to get Baby Boomers back to church).
I have to confess that I’m getting a little tired of all the calls to make the church relevant. Occasionally, when I’m on the road with my ministry, someone will ask, “How do we get more families through our doors?” or “Where are the children and youth?” Beneath the surface, it seems, there is panic, an unspoken assumption that their church is dying and that snagging more members is the answer. This usually leads to tweaking a worship service by adding drums and guitars, or hiring a high-powered consultant, or adopting that “magic program” that every other church seems to be using.
I believe we are asking the wrong question. Instead of pondering, “How do we make our church relevant to people?,” we should be asking, “How do we make our church relevant to God?”
The 19th century Danish theologian, Søren Kierkegaard, is famous for a worship analogy. Many churches treat the preacher as the performer, God as the subject and the congregation as the audience. Kierkegaard did something different. He compared worshippers to actors, the preacher as a prompter and God as the audience. Like all good analogies, we don’t want to push this one too far, but it gives food for thought. If God is our audience, then everything we do as a church should be pleasing to Him.
As Rev. Allan Bevere writes in a recent blog, “While we want our preaching to attract everyone, we cannot compromise the gospel because it may drive others away. If we do that, we may not have people rejecting what we say, but we will find that people are no longer interested, because we will not be offering to the world anything that they cannot get elsewhere. Preachers must preach in a way that those who hear them will say, “‘I cannot get this anywhere else.'”
People are fickle. What might be relevant to them in one year will become hopelessly outdated in the next. But God never changes. His beauty, love, power and glory are from everlasting to everlasting. Best we as the church fix our eyes on Jesus, and let the rest fall into place.
Sanctuary picture courtesy of rise-a-mui via Pixabay