3 Defining Words–(Some) Characteristics of a Healthy Church Part 2

If ever a list were made of the top ten words that are most overused at church (and I just may), this word that helps define healthy churches would most likely be at the very top.  By the way, at the bottom?  Apothecary.  I want to use a different word, find a good synonym, but this is the best word to describe what I mean.  Since it is overused, it is therefore often misused.  I will, unfortunately have have to devote some time to what I don’t mean by the word.  Wow Cloften, could you please put in a few more vague disclaimers before you tell us what the word is?  No I will not.  Here is the word.


(Yeah, dude.  That word is overdone.  You should have given more disclaimers) 

What do I mean by relevant?  Relevant means that it matters to people’s lives.  What we say and do in church makes a difference in the way that people live.  Maybe applicable is a good synonym.  Being relevant answers the “so what?” question.  Something can be true but irrelevant (Most American car horns honk in the key of F).  When we teach the Bible, we want what we teach to be relevant.  It needs to produce life-change (#7 on the list).  One might think that this is the same as contemporary (#2 on the list), but it’s is not.  Contemporary typically speaks to doing programs, worship, etc. in a way that is similar in style to the culture (#5 on the list).  While that is something that churches that I lead do, it is not the same.  Your church can be contemporary in style, but irrelevant in content.  Your church can be traditional, but relevant in content.

“Easy heretic.  The Bible is always relevant.”  It sure is.  The question is why do we sometimes teach the Bible as if it isn’t.  I think you have to try really hard to not be relevant, but we do it.

Here is an example:

If I told you that in the time that Revelation 3:14-22 was written that Laodecia had no direct access to hot or cold water, that would be true but so what? 

I’ll go a step further.  If I told you that they had to pipe in water from outside the city and by the time it got to them it was lukewarm water which was nasty, would that be relevant?  What if I told you that they hated that water, because it was too warm to drink and not hot enough to be used for hot baths?  Would that make you a better Christian?  Would that draw you closer to God? 

One more step further, since all of that is true, then we can know that in Revelation 3:15-16 when Jesus says he wishes they were hot or cold and not lukewarm, he’s not saying that hot is good, cold is bad, lukewarm is worse.  He is saying cold is useful, hot is useful, lukewarm water is nasty.  I still haven’t been relevant.

Relevant comes when I then in some way try to explain to you that when we sit around and become stale and useless, we become repulsive to God.  We were designed to be used by God.  How is God using you? What is your purpose?.  All the way up until I said that, what I was saying was true, perhaps insightful, it was also helpful in understanding a passage of the Bible, but it was not yet relevant.  However, if we come up short in our teaching, small groups, community (#9), ministries in helping people see how their lives need to be different, we are not helping people.  Life with God becomes an academic exercise, not one where God is changing our lives.

We need to be a church that is helping people become real (#4), authentic (#3) followers of Jesus Christ, where is he is changing people every day.  We must be relevant.