What Makes a Church Relevant?


For the last six weeks I’ve been working on a forthcoming book “Fifty Days of Reading the Red”.  This is a survey of every word of Jesus as recorded in Scripture (the ‘red letter’ bits in many Bibles).  You can follow this work in progress, which is due out at the beginning of December, by clicking on the ‘Reading the Red – Archives’ link at the top of this page.

So, having immersed myself in the words of Jesus, that was my first point of reference when I saw a question in an online discussion forum – What do you mean when you say a church is ‘relevant’? This was my response:

What makes a church relevant?

Being like Jesus makes a church relevant.

I look at how Jesus ministered to people. He spent quality time with sinners (eating and drinking with them) and listened to what was on their hearts. He also spent quality time with His Father (praying all night) and listened to what was on His heart.

Then He told stories that started off where the sinners’ hearts were – yet ended up where God’s heart was.

Stories about fishing, lost coins, travelers getting mugged, people being thrown into jail for debt. He used the topical news stories of the day (people who were killed when the tower of Siloam collapsed) and used it to reveal God to people.

So, if I as a preacher want to be as relevant as Jesus, I need to spend time listening to God’s heart (something most preachers know how to do) and time listening to unsaved people’s hearts (something most preachers aren’t very good at because we’re too busy telling sinners how sinful they are). Then I need to tell stories – lots and lots of stories.


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