I’m not quite sure, but I think I just felt my paradigm shift! I’ve grown up in the church and seen too many people and too many churches that seem to be completely out of touch with reality – living in some kind of lalaJesusland where all the messiness of life is wrapped up in a nice sugary bow just after the second commercial break so put on a happy face and pretend everything’s alright. A broken world can’t relate to such a nicely facaded (not a word, I know) church, so they stay away.
Because of that experience, I’ve talked a lot about the church needing to be more relevant in our communities in order to reach those communities. I’ve never advocated going overboard with gimmickry (yes that is a word, actually) in order to entice consumers to listen to our Jesus-spiel, but I have endorsed an approach to taking down traditional walls that don’t need to be there any more in order to be ‘relevant’.
This effort to be relevant carries the implication that the church is falling behind culture and needs to catch up. A Catalyst TV podcast I just watched (#4 I think) showed a clip from a couple years ago from one of my favorite pastors, Erwin McManus (and no, I’m not just agreeing with something because he said it). He asked the question “Aren’t you tired of trying to be relevant?” Why are we playing catch-up? Why are we not leading the way?
The time is way overdue for people in the church to live lives that lead the way. I still want to lead students who don’t live a church life AND a separate school life. I still want my students to live amongst the mess of life in such a way that they are leading people to the Water they really need. I still want my students to keep their head out of the clouds of religion and live in relationship with Jesus and his people and our community. But maybe I need to find a better term than relevance. We’re not playing catch-up anymore. As we follow the Wind, we’ll lead the way to the Water.