Can We Be Relevant?

It has been said that we in the churches of Christ were born in a storm and bred to fight. This serves well for winning fights and arguments but does it bode well in reaching souls for Jesus Christ? Our image has been one of an argumentative, judgmental and divisive people. On the one hand we have prided ourselves in being a Bible toting Bible quoting people while at the same time we have missed much of the message of that precious book. We insist we must stand for the truth but look down on the ability of anyone considered a peacemaker. Many a speaker has been chosen for his ability to skin the denominations rather than his ability to reach souls. The world is in desperate need of our message. As a result of past and present attitudes the world ignores the gospel message. Brethren, something has to change! How do we change our attitude so that our message is heard?

First, it is imperative that we change our image. Before we can be relevant we must be heard. Winning arguments does not translate into saving souls. We are ambassadors of the Savior. As such it is necessary that we present His values. Rather than being well-oiled fighting machines constantly building walls, we must develop an attitude that meets the needs of those outside those walls. This means thinking outside the “I am right and you are wrong” box. It comes down to building bridges instead of walls. Until the phrase, “if you aren’t a member of the church of Christ you can’t go to heaven” is forgotten, both in and out of the church, we cannot be relevant. It is impossible to make a difference if we are considered a non-player. We must recast our image or we will not survive.

Second, we need to understand that the most fundamental witness of Christ in the world today is individual Christians. Our daily lives must be lived in such a way that we connect with those we are trying to influence for Jesus. This means doing things that are outside actions the world normally expects from us. In Acts 17:4 it is stated, “some of the Jews were persuaded and joined Paul and Silas”. This passage is significant. These Jews joined Paul and Silas. We could argue that they needed to be converted to the truth. Today we might say that they had to be properly taught so that they could be properly grounded. The honest truth was they joined themselves to perhaps the only Christians they knew at the time. Paul and Silas were the most fundamental witnesses of Christ that these Jews knew. Today we must live our lives in such a way that our neighbors and friends want to join themselves with us. This requires a bridge building attitude. We can’t build bridges in confrontation. In order to be relevant we must draw people to Christ by the lives we live. When your city looks at your congregation what does it see?  Does our approach to the Lord’s work allow us to be relevant in today’s world?

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9 Responses to Can We Be Relevant?

  1. 1 Middle Man says:

    A very valid and important question to ask…I have asked the same thing. The fact is…we may be so religiously right, that we are practically wrong, much of the time. We need balance and a better persective as to how we relate to the community and the world. We will get a lot further by being joyful rather than combative, humble rather than right…sugar, rather than vinegar, as they say. Blessings, Don

  2. Wayne McDaniel says:

    Dell,

    You are pointing out a truth that we certainly need to hear.
    As a group of churches, we would have spread Jesus’ reign
    to others far more, if we would have been known as a people of prayer. It is in genuine prayer that ungodly pride
    is crucified, and the glory of the risen Savior begins to shine in our faces, and changes the tone of our voices.

    Not only have we misused our knowledge of the scriptures and neglected life-changing prayer, but we have distorted
    the good news of Jesus life, death and resurrection(Rom.4:25). Most of us are products of our church environment more than we recognize, or are willing to admit. If an aquaintance at work asked us today, “What are the most important things you know about Jesus?” What would we say? Would we say something like, ” The most important thing is HOW we are saved. We must hear, believe, repent, confess, and be baptized, with a clear understanding that baptism is for the remission of sins.” ? Does that sound like good news? Where is Jesus in that “gospel”?

    You are certainly right about treating others in ways that reflect Jesus’ love. If we are failing to do that, it is not surprising that others have no interest in what we believe.
    Why would anyone want to be among people who are always arguing with each other and strutting what little they know? Many of us have failed to reflect Jesus’ love so badly, that others cannot believe we are learners of Jesus.

    Churches that reflect pride instead of love, ought to die.
    We may have a name that we live, and be dead already, Rev.3:1.

  3. I am afraid that – as you’ve said – we’ve often picked preachers and speakers who tell us what we like to hear, which is how right we are and how wrong others are.

    We like having our ears tickled.

  4. Jan says:

    How true! We so often push people away with our judgemental ways. We must go back to the two most important commands of God. To love the Lord our God with all our heart and soul. And the second, to love our neighbor as ourself. Then we will have the right attitude to go into all the world and tell the good news. Good post Dell!

  5. It is all about modifying our attitude. Loving your neighbor as yourself doesn’t mean “condemning them to hell.” Thanks for your participation.

  6. Brad says:

    Dell, once again, you’ve cut right to the heart of it. The more I read, the more we seem to be on the same wavelength. You seem to be able to articulate the things I think in a well thought out, insightful manner. Keep it up!

  7. Ed Whittington says:

    Dell, for the past several years our little church has focused on 3 simple principles. First, loving God (private and public worship), second, loving those around us (creating a loving community of believers in our homes, church and neighborhoods) and third, serving our community. All our activities center in these 3 ideas. We are trying to follow the example of Acts 2:47 “Praising God and having the goodwill of all the people”. Impossible to do if we argue with everyone in sight about how we are right about everything. Our purpose as a church is to radiate Christ every where we go and if necessary use words. It is probably impossible to have goodwill with everyone but it is a goal that challenges us to be relevant and real, humble and compassionate. The transformation has been slow but beautiful. We are blessed to be experiencing a growing spiritual community where Christ is moving to change lives for His kingdom.
    Warmly, Ed.
    PS. I will miss seeing you at Pepperdine. I wish I could attend. I know you will be blessed.

  8. The world’s version of authority is force. God’s version of authority is relationship.

    God did not tell us how to live through prophets and laws. He came down, broke bread, and showed us.

    When people see us descend from “on high” and help them fix their houses, meals, and families, only then will we have authority to speak life into their lives. At that point, they will ask, “What must we do to have what you have?!?” As Peter says, we should be prepared to give an answer, because they will be asking. And if they’re not asking, then who is truly in the wrong?

    It’s funny how some have been led to believe that you can thresh the wheat before it has been harvested. Nurture first, raise the crop, protect it from critters and disease. Only then can you chop it off and beat the heck out of it with a stick. :^)

    Keep doing what you’re doing, Dell. The Kingdom is expanding because of it.

    -Brad

  9. Don Morrison says:

    Ed,

    Churches with a focus like that are rare in any denomination and a refreshment for many. My church is a gracious and servant-hearted church also – I am often incredulous that my family and I get to live among such a fellowship. I often feel as though God brought me here because he wanted me to learn something valuable about love and acceptance.

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