Saturday, March 26, 2011

May the Tribe of Micaiah Increase!

The experts gathered together to predict victory. The authors and the gurus, the church growth experts and ones versed in spiritual formation sent word to the prophet. "This is the way the spiritual wind is blowing. Join with us and we will celebrate the vast numerical victory that will be ours."
The church growth expert said, "The battle is sure. Look at the hordes who will flock to us. Victory is sure."
The Spiritual Formation expert said, "Self-esteem will lead the way. We can be confident when we are centered in our own understanding."
The Guru said, "We are predicting success. Let your word agree with ours."
But Micaiah said, "As surely as the Lord lives, I can tell him only what the Lord tells me... I saw all Israel scattered, like sheep without a shepherd..."

The Deception of Relevance

The church has made a grave mistake in ministry design. The cries for relevance over the last decade or two have led us to the edge of an abyss. If we peer over the edge, our knees may get weak.
*One church hired a pornography star to come and share about sex because of her wide experience.
*Another church made it popular to ask so many questions of scripture that they began to question scripture without settling on any of its answers
*Another church made selfishness its central concern so that Baby Boomers could feel relevant
*A final example was a church that made self-esteem its core value and redefined sin to be a lack of sufficient self-esteem.
All this was done at the altar of relevance. Here's my problems with the idea of relevance:
1. We make sinners and the weakest saints among us the arbiters of relevance. Whatever their felt need is at the time is where we park our ministry efforts and resources.
2. Relevance reflects a desire for a desire for a neat prescription for a felt need that takes away pain without touching the disease.
3. The heart, which is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked, likes its answers in neat little tablets. The heart directs the Word and Spirit of God into only those areas of pain and forbids wider scope to the agents of real transformation.
4. Nothing is more relevant, ultimately and finally, than the Gospel. On Christ and His ministry among us hang all our hope and joy. To think something else is more relevant than forgiveness of sins and right standing with God is a damnable blindness.
The real question is not relevance but sufficiency. Are the things we teach and do in ministry sufficient for bringing a sinner to the cross and a saint safely home? Next time we meet with our ministry design team, let's ask the right question.