How Do We Remain Relevant?

When Alexander Campbell, Barton Stone, and their fellow searchers were opening their minds to God’s direction their message was relevant.  They were speaking a message that made a difference.  Their vision was unity.  As a result of their vision they filled a need in the religious world of their day.  Instead ofpreaching the isolationism that so often dominates religion they were bringing people together through the Word of God.  As the Civil war appeared on the horizon this group was changing the world.  They were making a difference!  They were relevant.

Somewhere between the beginning of the civil war and Daniel Sommer’s speech given at Sand Creek on August 18, 1889 a significant portion of our group lost the vision.  The movement changed from a unity movement to  a movement stressing uniformity of practice.  On the surface the change might appear subtle. Deep down it really meant the beginning of the end of relevance.  I realize some will disagree strongly with the previous statement.  Truthfully stressing uniformity of  practice  does not provide relevance.

What does it take for the body of Christ to make a difference in the world today?  This is really what we are discussing.  Where do we put our emphasis if we are going to make a difference?  Do we emphasize the restoration of patterns?  Do we emphasize sameness?  What does God want from us in order for us to please Him?  The difference in emphasizing unity and uniformity of practice is miles apart.  Emphasizing unity brings people together.  Emphasizing uniformity of practice divides those who are not uniform in their practice.  Christ’s prayer in the garden was for unity not uniformity of practice.

How do we restore the vision that demands relevance?  In Mark 9:38-41 Scripture shares an event that occurred between Jesus and His disciples.  John said, “Teacher, we saw a man driving out demons in your name and we told him to stop, because he was not one of us.”  Jesus said, “Do not stop him, for whoever is not against us is for us.”  As Jesus continues He emphasizes the need to do good in the His name.

Is it possible that relevance is not found in uniformity of practice?  Could it be that relevance is maintained through the preaching of Jesus?  Emphasis on uniformity of practice promotes exclusivity.  Jesus prayed that we might have unity.  Can we be relevant and maintain a vision which leads to exclusivity?

We have a message that makes the lives of those who accept that message fundamentally better.  That message is the good news of Jesus Christ.  Instead of placing emphasis on patterns let’s preach Jesus.  We have the ability to draw all men to Him.  We have the ability to be relevant, to make a real difference.  It is time that we catch the vision of the Christ.  Luke tells us Jesus came to seek and save the Lost.  This is the real vision of the church.  Think on these things.

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10 Responses to How Do We Remain Relevant?

  1. rainey says:

    great

  2. Thanks for the comment.

  3. Dennis says:

    Such a relevant post.
    As I have seen (and am seeing) it played out in my community (as recently as last week), focus on uniformity causes one(s) to focus on the need to control others. Those who reject this control (or who appear to question it or even just neutrally fail to conform to it) are then condemned harshly and openly. What an ungodly result. Good post, Dell

  4. Don says:

    I appreciate your emphasis here. It is apparent that, in many circles, churches in our fellowship and in other fellowships are no longer relevant. Our theology and our methodology need to find ways “to square up” so to speak, or we risk becoming obsolete. Those who believe that “we can continue on with our thinking and our practice, regardless of culture” eventually find out they are out of touch, and not too long thereafter, out of sorts…

    Blessings, Don

  5. Dennis and Don, Thanks for your thoughts. I appreciate what both of you do for the Lord. Keep preaching Jesus!

  6. christina says:

    As I see it, Jesus has been, is today, and will always be the reason we do what we do. No doubt about that. But, there’s a thin line between different ways to teach Christ and teaching Christ in different ways. If Jesus doesn’t change, we shouldn’t change the message to make others feel better about themselves. We show them the Bible. So many tv preachers, take Jesus out of context and away from the Bible like they don’t go together, but Jesus is the Bible, The Word in flesh. We should be unified in what we teach. How we teach, as long as the Bible says do it, go for it, But preach Jesus so everyone can understand and be unified.There’s no unity if there’s questions as to who’s right. The only One who is right is God and the Son he sent so we can be with Him one day, unified in Heaven. I believe in the Lord’s prayer that unity was some of what Jesus was speaking of, when he says,”Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.” We know Heaven is united under God’s control. We should strive to be that way. I think what I’m trying to say in all this is preach to them not at them and we will be united as God intened, but becareful you don’t cross that line I talked about earlier. In sports, teams are unified, they practice together and win and lose together, but they stay unified and go by the rules, they don’t change the rules as the game goes along to satisfy themselves, and we shouldn’t either. We are God’s family, We practice “life” together, go through ups and downs, but we stay unified.And when we do we show more about who we are then all the books that we can write about how to live. There’s only One book to tell us how to do that, the Bible.

  7. Wayne McDaniel says:

    Dell,

    I appreciate your courage and conviction to write this, and thankful that the shepherds in Payson agree with
    the truth that trusting Jesus to forgive us does not include a uniform understanding of everything in the scriptures. The exchange you mentioned in Mark 9 clearly reflects the desire to control others — a poorly disguised expression of the sin of pride.

    It took me a long time to see the difference between trusting in Jesus himself and his death to hide my life in his, and trusting in my understanding of various teachings and practices. If we rely upon the latter, it is only a disguise for our pride. The Lord has been very patient with us.

    We are relevant by reflecting Jesus’ love. If we ignore our remaining sin, we are powerless to love.

    Since 1935, AA meetings have been relevant and life-changing because those who work the steps learn
    compassion for others thru seeing their own failures. In most churches, sin is seldom confessed and prayed for. We become irrelevant because we refuse to face and confess our remaining failures.

    “Repentance brought us to Christ in the first place, and repentance will keep on bringing us back.”- R.P.

  8. Christina and Wayne thanks for your thoughts and kind words.

  9. Jan says:

    Good post Dell. If ministers would just preach Christ and what He stood for and how He lived we would be much better off. Thanks for having the courage to write these words. God is our judge. It is God we must please and we do that by putting Him first ALWAYS.

  10. Thanks Jan, miss you guys.

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