Relevance is the holy grail sought by many pastors today. In a recent interview, Tullian Tchividjian spoke about the key to achieving a ‘relevant’ ministry in today’s world.
I would say that to be truly relevant you have to say things that are timeless, not trendy. That’s what I would say. I address this in the book, that in order to be truly relevant you have to be otherworldly. You have to operate according to a different ethic, that there is a deep relevance to being irrelevant, so to speak.
When we try too hard to fit in we actually become irrelevant because we’re not saying anything different. I mean it’s almost like we lose our voice. We lose our unique niche, the church does, when we’re trying too hard to fit in. We become indistinguishable from a world that desperately wants something different.
If you just look around at the world today, and you read a quote which piggybacks on what I’m about to say, but if you look around at the world today, the world is desperately crying out for something otherworldly. I mean the fascination with sort of pop spirituality, angels, aliens, all those sorts of things indicate that there is a deep longing in the human soul that craves something beyond this world. Well, when Christians put their greatest tool up on the shelf in the name of being relevant, we end up becoming really, really irrelevant. And, I have to wonder sometimes about whether or not Christians and pastors who try so hard to fit in and be relevant are really doing it because they have a deep passion to reach the world or if they have a deep passion to be accepted. And I know that’s a struggle that I find. I can try so hard to be fashionable and be cool and fit in and do it under the guise of I’m trying to reach the world, but I know what’s going on in my heart. I know what’s really going on. What’s really going on is I just want the world to think I’m cool. I don’t want people around me to think I’m odd and unfashionable and strange. I want them to think I’m like them. Like I can be cool, too. Christians can be cool, too.
Read more of Ed Stetzer’s interview with Tchividjian about culture and ministry here. Buy the book Unfashionable: Making a Difference in the World by Being Different.