Tuesday, July 17, 2007

CRN's Sour Grapes or When did "Relevance" Become a Dirty Word?

I simply couldn't let this post over at CRN go by without comment. In it, we are directed to this year's list of the 50 most influential churches in America. The list includes several of CRN's "usual suspects" (their words, not mine), including Joel Osteen (Lakewood Church, Texas), Rick Warren (Saddleback Church), Bill Hybels (Willow Creek Community Church), T. D. Jakes (The Potter's House), and others. Mind you, I don't think that any of these men are infallible, and of those whom I have listed above, I don't know enough about what they teach to be able to pass judgement on them, nor would I want to. So why this post?

The reason is two-fold. First, the mysterious "Editor" at CRN chose to title this post "More Buffoonery?" Interesting title, and interesting heart condition, to be labeling brothers in Christ (and their congregations) as "buffoons." OK, I could let that slide. Really, I could. But it is the manner in which they point out that John MacArthur (pastor of Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, CA) was *NOT* included on the list, going so far as to call it a "relevance parade." Sour grapes, perhaps? Second, exactly when did "relevance" become a dirty word? It seems to me that if the church becomes irrelevant, it will die. It will have no place in American culture, and will simply fade into nothing. Dictionary.com (a great resource, by the way) defines relevance as:
  1. Pertinence to the matter at hand.
  2. Applicability to social issues
As I stated above, if we are not pertinent to matters at hand (namely, many of the issues which CRN writes about), and if we cannot apply ourselves to social issues in a relevant matter, then what point is there for the church to exist? It rather reminds me of Paul's words in 1 Corinthians 13, in which we are told that though we speak in the tongues of men and angels, or do great things, but have not love, we are nothing. I believe the same principle applies. If we seek to exist in a vacuum, we will get exactly what we want, but it won't last. Like it or not, we are in this sinful, fallen world for the long haul, and we need to make the most of it. We need to be willing to engage those around us, not simply tell them they are lost and going to burn for all of eternity.

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