I have a post regarding relevance in Christianity in the works, but felt I needed to get something off my chest. In any industry, one must first define it’s market and meet the needs of that market the best that they can. It is common practice to shoot for an 80% success rate when discussing groups of people. If you can reach 80% of the people 20% of the time, you’re succeeding.
The same holds true in ministry as well. Too many times churches set lofty goals to reach their entire community for Christ, and they attempt to do so in only one or two ways. A block party here, a Christmas pageant there, etc. While these are great in Theory (I’ve always wanted to live there), there is no possible way to succeed with these goals in mind. While you may say “wait, dude, anything is possible with God, right?” I’ll respond with yes, but God also does things differently for different groups of people. The Corinthians, the Thessalonians, the Romans, all received very different messages that were relevant to their specific needs.
What we as A Church – a single group of God-fearing Christians – must do is to break the masses up into smaller groups of people and reach them in ways that are relevant to them. Church A then ministers to one group while Church B ministers to another. Why work against each other and expect Church A to be everything to everyone. It won’t work. If you encounter someone at Church A not being reached, let them know about Church B, or even better, Church C that just started around the corner.
We do this so well with international missions, breaking people groups up and providing materials in their language, storyboards, and dramatic presentations, how come we forget that there are multiple groups of people right outside our doors? Just because we all live in the same community doesn’t mean we all worship the same way.
If Church A happens to have two services, and is still missing their target(s – there could be more than one), maybe a third service, or modifying one of the existing two is in order. It isn’t about a single style of worship or about the music, it is how best to relate the message in away that is relevant to their target audience.
There has been an uprising of community churches with multiple campuses or satellites. This is not only to cover a larger geographic area (churches are all about numbers, you know), but is also to be more relevant to different groups of people in the community.
In a perfect world, we wouldn’t have to be relevant in our presentation, because the distractions wouldn’t exist. Our vision of God would be clear and the desire to know Him would be inherent in all of us (it truly is, but we don’t realize it) from the start. Therefore we would already be at the point of “What can I do for Him” rather than the selfish, human “what can He do for me?”
The problem here is that the people we’re trying to bring into the church and minister to are not able to grasp a concept of “what can I do for Him.” That takes time. We must first be patient and understand that before they can get there, they need to understand “What can He do for me?”
Speak their language. Be relevant. Be passionate. Don’t be afraid to point someone in a different direction (not the same as turning them away) that speaks to them. Work together. If you want to be more things to more people, realize that it’s going to take time & effort and can’t be accomplished in one or two ways.