Some believe the 21st century church in America is less relevant than it has ever been.

There is a lot of talk about the relevancy of the church. Some believe the 21st century church in America is less relevant than it has ever been. Some are disheartened with their experience in the church. Some have been wounded or are even now in the middle of a difficult church experience. Some are flat-out angry and have left the church completely.

Increasingly, church-goers are dissatisfied with the content of the messages they hear, or they weren’t “moved” by it. I remember a discussion I had with one disappointed church-goer who was frustrated that the pastor doesn’t provide the “steps-to-take” to put the sermon into practice the following week. On the other hand, there are many who don’t want the “how to” summary.

Then there’s the issue with others in the church – you know, the hypocrites, the so-called Christians that should know better. Their behavior doesn’t reflect a person following Christ. They say things and do things that are completely the opposite of Jesus. So, it’s best not to be around them. We should find another church, or gather together a group of “like-minded” believers and have our own group, or have church at home.

And what about the music? It’s too loud. It’s too boring. It’s too rock-and-roll, or too old-line. How can we go to a church where the music doesn’t appeal us? Let there be powerful music that usher us into worship and leaves us on a spiritual high! After all, the music is big part of the worship experience, right? (Many churches have split over this issue.)

Finally, we have to be relevant in order to attract new people to the church. So, we need great sermons full of relevant content  that challenge us and move us to get out there and be Christ-like (edgy? conservative? seeker-friendly? hmmm…, what shall we do?). And we need people that will go out of their way to make us feel at home and wanted, and don’t stab us in the back next week. Isn’t this is the kind of church we need – a church that is relevant for the 21st century?

The church that Jesus started was the Church (big “C”). If you claim to be a follower of Christ then you are, by definition, a slave to Christ, along with all of the other slaves to Christ that are called the body, the Church. Once you’ve given your life to Christ your call is to BE relevant, not require others to be relevant for you. Your victory is assured. Your treasure is Christ. You are a servant now – a servant of Christ, a servant to the body of Christ, and a servant to the world.

Pastors, teachers, music/worship leaders, church leaders, and church members ought to strive to offer themselves as living sacrifices to the Lord and to the church. Our attitude ought to be like Jesus – who didn’t come to be served but to serve. We honor Christ with an attitude of servanthood. As we die to ourselves we mature as believers and as we mature we become more loving and relevant to one another.

We’ve lost our way and our saltiness by believing that we are primarily to be served. We’ve made being served an entitlement rather than a gift and it damages our relationships and our witness. When we don’t own our identity as Christians (servants), there is no other choice but to behave selfishly. It’s an attitude that works itself out in our behavior. We can have an attitude of gratefulness or attitude of entitlement. It’s not an easy calling. It’s often painful, sometimes humiliating, and often thankless. We deal with disappointment, disagreement, aggravation, and rejection (does this remind you of Someone?), but our reward is not here.  We’ve made breaking relationship with the church and with one another too palatable and acceptable.

Lord, forgive us(me) for requiring the church to be all things to us(me). It’s an impossible task for any church to please me and all my brothers and sisters as well. Help us(me) submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. Cause us(me) to persevere in the faith with an attitude of humility and hearts of servants. Grow us (me) and mature us(me) to be relevant first that Jesus may be demonstrated through us(me) – because Jesus is always relevant.