Tuesday, June 22, 2010
This past Sunday, I preached on Relevance, one of the eight Core Values at Chain of Lakes Church. A Core Value is a principle, quality, belief, and or/attitude that is foundational to our community. A list of our Core Values can be found at: colpres.org. The sermon I preached (and all sermons I have preached) can also be found at colpres.org.
We have an explanation for each of our Core Values. At Chain of Lakes we adapted this explanation for Relevance: “Jesus successfully communicated his message by using examples and symbols of first century culture. We will be open to using examples and symbols of our culture to communicate Jesus’ message.”
I also think of Relevance as adaptive leadership. We will take our message and use different techniques to communicate it to our culture. We don’t adapt our message; we do adapt our delivery systems.
Relevance is one of the hardest values for churches—especially Presbyterian churches—to adapt into our ministry.
For me this is hard to understand as Jesus was one of the most relevant leaders in the history of the world.
We Presbyterians have deep troubles with Relevance.
How often does the following happen at a Presbyterian church?
Someone comes up with a really creative idea at a church meeting. Then someone throws cold water on the idea by saying the last seven words of the church. “we’ve never done it that way before.” The idea is not only not embraced, but the message is communicated that creativity is not welcomed.
A group gets together to do some planning for an event. The group has done the event before. The first question they ask themselves is, “How did we do this event last year?” They don’t ask the question, “What are we trying to accomplish with this event and what do we need to change the event to achieve this accomplishment?” The group ends up doing the event the same as the year before. And the trend continues. Over time churches have annual events that are pretty much the same each year.
Of course, there’s nothing wrong with developing traditions. Our traditions have to be living, breathing, and flexible traditions; not traditions of cement. The problem is that we develop events that worked well in 1990 or 1970, but we find the event doesn’t work in 2010. Why? Not because the event is a bad event. Life in 2010 is a lot different than life in 1990 or 1970.
Being relevant requires us to trust how the Holy Spirit is working today; it requires us to follow the Holy Spirit into the future. Being relevant is a deeply spiritual task.
May we in the main-line commit ourselves to the challenge of Relevance!!