Misconception of Being Relevant

The popular thought is that in order to be “Relevant” you must be a part of the “Emergent Church”. That is totaly untrue. I mean…some of the so called “Friends of Emergent” scare the crap outta me. Maybe even more so than some of the so called “Fundamentalists”. Where this misconception rises from is that largely the only group that is trying to be relevant in today’s culture IS the “emergent church”.

What WE mean when we talk about being Relevant is not rejecting the “sovereignty” of the gospel of Jesus Christ, rather presenting that truth in a modern method. Still, there is a fine line that we must be careful to not cross where the method becomes the focus instead of the message. In other words, “don’t just do it cuz it’s cool”, do it because it will enhance what is trying to be communicated.

Let’s face it…today’s culture loves to be entertained. They like cool things. They like cool music. But in the midst of all that cool, they want something that is true. They want something that is honest. They need something that meets the very base of their spiritual questionings or quests.

I remember back in the mid 90’s when I was in a Christian Rock band, I had a preacher basically tell me “there is no such thing as Christian Rock”! My response to him was this;
“if you will give us 30 minutes, we will entertain them, they will get hooked by the music, and then they will listen to whatever I want to tell them”.

This became even much more evident to me when we were invited to play at an “Arts Festival” in the Montrose area (an area well know for it’s largely gay population) of Houston. We played for about 30 minutes, had people coming from all over the festival, then when we felt the time was right, we started ministering to them.
We prayed with prostitutes, transvestites, homeless people and drug dealers. We saw God move in a very powerful way. How were we able to do that? We met them on their level. We didn’t shove anything down their throat. We didn’t start yelling to them “sinners repent”! We showed them the love of Christ and trusted the Holy Spirit to bring about conviction in their hearts. When He did, we were able to minister. We were being “Relevant” to them.

This is what really bothers me about being labeled an “Emergent”. The fact that we continually get called into question about how we do what we do and becuase of a “few” nut jobs, we all get categorized and compartmentalized like a recent article I read on Christian Worldview Network by Steve Camp regarding what has been coined “Calvinism’s TULIP” according to the emerging/emergent beliefs” (You may find a detailed explanation of the Calvinism’s TULIP here)

1. Total Ambiguity
Methodology over message
Truth is abstract; fluid, and liquid
Conversation over gospel proclamation
Ecumenism over doctrinal unity
Contantly inventing a new spiritual meta-narrative

2. Unconditional Pragmaticism
Seeker sensible and seeker sensitive
Whatever works—do it
Numbers justify everything
Program enriched
Felt need, culture-driven

3. Limited Theology
Doctrine diminished and not primary; it is the afterthought
Truth claims remain vague and undefined
No definitive agreed upon statement of faith
Very little biblical definition of ministry
Recommended reading lists of their networks remain liberal and pragmatic

4. Irresistible Contextualization
Truth must be adapted to and defined by culture
The audience, not the message, is sovereign
The focus is to be relevant and relativistic
Being missional is marked by methodological inroads, conversation, and cultural discernment of the times – not the proclamation of the gospel
Speak of the humanity of Christ in crude terms to make Jesus relatable over reverence of the transcendence of Christ

5. Postmodern Perverse Speech
Being known as the cussing pastor is good
Unwholesome talk is cultural not biblical
Coarse scatological speech is a matter of personal taste
It makes you cool to other Emerging/Emergents
If you challenge it, you are labeled as Victorian and out of date

Now the problem that I have with this is that Steve seems to be lumping ALL churches, other than the fundamentalist group, in this version of the so called TULIP.

And just for the record…I am not an emergent…I am a Modern, Relevant, Christian!

Here are a few questions for discussion.

1. Do you feel that ALL seeker sensitive, seeker searching churches fall under this TULIP?

2. Do you feel that your church falls under this TULIP explanation?


About Jimmy Eldridge

I am a husband, a father, a son, a brother and most of all, a follower of our most gracious savior Christ Jesus. Who are you following?

7 thoughts on “Misconception of Being Relevant

  1. I agree with you. It amazes me the stuff we (the church at large) will fight over when in the time it takes me write this scores of people will die without the Gospel. Hey, let me ask you a quick question, I’m about to move and I wanted to leave a book with some friends of mine who are seeking. One is reading a Bible, one is a self proclaimed Muslim (White, drug addict who likes to get reactions) and some are just people seeking answers. The question is, is there a book you’d reccommend? If you go to my webpage you can email me or answer here. Thanks Joe

  2. I think that “seeker” churches tend to miss the point of church. The heart and desire to reach the lost is great! However, church means “the called out ones” not “the seaking but yet unsaved ones”. Now what does that mean? It doesn’t mean that we cannot let unbelievers inthe church walls (some churches have made this mistake), but it also means that we should not tailor church to make it attract the tears.

    Church should be the place where the believer is exhorted, encouraged, fed, and equipped to go out and find the lost, witness to them, and then when they become interested in Christ or if they get saved…then they come to church!

  3. EJ,

    I have been to some seeker sensitive churches that I would consider uber sensitive with no meat to them. So I would agree with you a little.

    But…shouldn’t church be a place of refuge for anyone?

    The way we do church is that our weekend services are geared toward being more evangelistic and our mid-week service is our discipleship time. Plus we are big on having small groups and classes for people also geared toward discipleship.

    We treat church as a safe haven for people who are hurting and need God. We invite them, love them, and lead them to God.

    That is what we mean by a “come as you are” church. As my Dad always said..”you don’t have to get cleaned up to take a bath do you”?

  4. Joe,

    Two different books that I have used with great success in pointing people to Christ are both by Max Lucado.

    The first is “He Chose the Nails” and the second is “In the Grip of Grace”.

    Fantastic books.


  5. I just realized I forgot to answer the questions. Personally, I think this may apply to some seeker churches but that the brushes that are used are way too wide. I believe that church isn’t for believers but believers are the Church. We’re made, created, redeemed to be conduits of God’s love and grace to a dying world. Personally, I find Mr. Camp’s post to be somewhat offensive. I am sure I could find churches with a style that he prefers that have issues (all churches are made up of people who are flawed–whatever their style).

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