One of the contrasts that the missional church is making is the difference between relevance and influence. I’ve read blogs and heard people talk about the disdain they have for people trying to be relevant. And yet that’s the very thing Jesus attempted to be, relevant. Relevance isn’t a bad thing; it’s a good thing. It’s a God thing.
As a matter of fact there is no influence without relevance. How can you influence anyone if you don’t speak their language, understand their needs, their hurts, their aspirations and desires? How do you connect the gospel to real-time dilemmas without seeking to speak relevantly and act relevantly? Influence isn’t given in a vacuum. It’s earned over time with relevant thought and relevant actions.
Sunday morning influence should proceed to marketplace influence. And if it doesn’t, it isn’t the cutting off of the Sunday morning activity that we should be doing, but re-thinking what we do on Sunday morning that isn’t transformational.
Maybe that’s our greatest challenge – to be relevant and influential at the same time; to make our gathering communities relevant to other mainstream activities; open them up to as many people as possible; be willing to be open to people who aren’t like us, don’t believe like us, don’t dress like us, or vote like us; people who may scare us, but people who should be made to feel welcome in our gathering communities.
Again, it’s not either relevance or influence; it’s both. One can’t exist without the other. In the next and last part of this conversation, I’m going to tell you about a key question. And how you answer it will make all the difference.