By Carey Nieuwhof
What’s changing faster: culture or your church? Irrelevance is the gap between how quickly culture changes and how quickly your church or ministry changes. If culture is changing faster than you’re changing, then you start to see a gap. That gap is irrelevance.
The reality is, in most cases, culture is changing faster than our churches. I think the word relevance has received a lot of bad press in recent years because people don’t understand what’s at stake. I propose a definition is simply “permission to speak into the culture.”
So what does this mean for us to stay relevant in the church? One thing it does not mean is changing our message. Our message is eternal. Our mission is eternal. God is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Our message doesn’t change. But our methods must. If I preach in Shakespearean English, no one will understand the message I am proclaiming and will quickly write me off.
The Importance of Change
To be good at remaining relevant, you must also be good with change. The biggest challenge with remaining relevant is that culture never asks permission to change. It just keeps changing. Your methods must change to preserve the message and the mission.
Often for church leaders, the greatest challenge to your future success is your current success. What was relevant 5 or 10 years ago, may not connect with the culture now. We must find a way to breathe life into a culture that desperately needs life. We must connect with people who need the gospel of Jesus Christ. If our methods are not supporting the mission of sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ with the culture around us, then maybe it’s time to change our methods.
So ask yourself, “What do we need to change?” After you determine what needs to change, focus twice as much on the “why” as the “what.” Doing so will help you shrink the gap between how quickly you change and how quickly culture changes and will help you to remain relevant.
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