Authentic, Passionate, Relevant

There has been much discussion on this site about worship styles, emerging churches, traditional churches and many other items that there are many, many, many differing opinions. So when I ran across this article in the Christian Post, I found it very interesting.

According to Senior Pastor Jim Shaddix of Riverside Baptist Church in Denver, Colo.,
“Young people, he believes, are not opposed to hymns. In fact, they sing revisions of hymnals sung by contemporary artists such as Chris Tomlin and Matt Redman.”

“Pastors clad in a suit and tie are also not a turnoff to the younger generation who watch late night show hosts Jay Leno and David Letterman run their monologues in a suit and tie.”

“Beyond the form of traditional churches and worship styles, young people, who are labeled as the future of the church, are opposed to the “fabricated Christian culture” within the traditional churches.”

“They’re opposed to the lifeless and heartless way we often sing those hymns,” Shaddix said at the second Baptist Identity Conference in Jackson, Tenn.

“Young people are not necessarily running to something,” the Southern Baptist pastor highlighted. “They are running away from something.”

And the standard answer church leaders would give to the question of what they are running from is the church form, the worship style, the traditional denominational affiliation – the tangible. But Shaddix believes the young believers are running from “lifeless Christianity.”

“This generation of young people “can see through” the emotionless expression during worship and the frequent listing of prayer requests but the little time allotted in services for actual prayer.”

“They can see through our hypocrisy,” said Shaddix.

“This generation has the gift of discerning authenticity in the church”, Shaddix plainly stated. “And this generation wants to do missions, not just study and give to missions.”

I found Pastor Shaddix’ thoughts very interesting and right in line with what John Burke, the Pastor of Gateway Community Church in Austin Texas, says in his book, “No Perfect People Allowed”.

Burke writes, “I am convinced authentic community provides the context where the majority of spiritual growth and healing can take place.
Emerging generations, like never before, crave this sense of community inside a spiritual family. If they don’t experience hope for authentic relational support, I don’t care how hip the service, or how rippin’ the music, or how vintage the vibe…they won’t stick.”

He continues, “As you can see, the challenge for the church of the twenty-first century has very little to do with the type of music or weekly service or drama or art or candles or coffee we serve. These things are important and may attract people initially, but they will never keep people connected and growing in faith community.”

So, in a nutchell, today’s generation wants authenticity. They want people passionate about God. They want people who live their lives for Christ and not just talk about it. They want something real, powerful, tangible.

Now that’s being Relevant!



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?

13 thoughts on “Authentic, Passionate, Relevant

  1. Nice post Jimmy, really appreciate your analysis. How refreshing and inspiring to see that young folk look for the real (sorry, saying authenticity sounds too trendy to me). That bodes well for those who are real, and are not just dressed up for Halloween, trying to be something they are not in order to attract attention. How can it ever be relevant to ape another, or transform to an artificial template, rather than being what it is that God has made you to be? I get confused by the call to relevance sometimes, because it sounds to me like that is what is promoted as being relevant (i.e. “in order to be relevant you must do or be this and that.”) We are what we are, and we do need to reach across boundaries, but we can’t be other than what we are to do it.

  2. I joined the church again 3 years ago after 10 years away, and what I was looking for more than anything else was authentic relationships with other Christians (at that time I had no Christian friends at all).
    While I agree with the first part of your last paragraph, I think for the second part quite the opposite is true. People want to see CHristians struggling and wrestling and suceeding and failing just like everyone else, but in the midst of that seeing something different because they are allowing God and His grace to be at work. MAybe the same thing you have written, just in different words.
    Great post!

  3. SLW,

    Thank you for your kind words.

    You are very right…you cannot be something you are not.

    I remember when I first felt the call into the ministry…I tried to be just like the other ministers that i saw…wear the same clothes…talk the same…even tried to pattern the way I preach after what they did. While it is not entirely wrong to have people you look to, or try to immulate some of their characteristics, I realized that my personality had gotten lost in the mix. I wasn’t being true to who I was.
    I remember a preacher friend of mine came to me after I spoke at a denominational conference, and he told me “that wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t you”. I was shocked. I asked him what he meant and he said “you need to be the man God called YOU to be…not the man God called them to be”.

    Being relevant is not really about being hip or cool…it is about being authentic (real):) Relevant is about knowing who you are called to reach, knowing the culture around you and who the people are.

    There is room in the body of Christ for all kinds of churches, the hip, the non-hip 🙂 fundamentalist, seeker sensitive, seeker focused, whatever the label may be. As long as the church is based on the truth of God’s word.

    I would much rather hear an electric guitar rocking out to the song “Salvation Is Here” than to hear a pipe organ playing “Just As I Am”.

    But that is just who I am.


  4. Jon,

    You are so right. What the last paragraph is saying is that we need to be real. People need to see that we struggle. Everyday is a struggle. paul even said in the scripture that he had to die daily..he had to get himself in line. He had struggles everyday with the flesh. We all do

    There are days, like yesterday, when I don’t want to do anything. I didn’t want to pray. I didn’t want to read the word. All i wanted to do was stay home, drink my coffee, and forget that the world existed. I think we all have those times.

    I try to always be transparent with those around me.

    Thank God for His greace and mercy.

    Becoming a Christian is not a destination, it is a journey. We won’t be to our destination until we get to Heaven.


  5. SLW…

    I am going to cherish it right now…I am sure that I will say something in the future that will not be so popular. 🙂


  6. I came across your blog through technorati and I really loved this post. I think the article touches a lot on things that I have seen happen in my own church over the last few years.

    I attend a more traditional church that is trying to become more progressive but has slowly been moving towards the goal for almost 10 years now.

    There seems to be a lot of “lifeless Christianity” around and I would love to see something wake these folks up. I’m sure some of it is a product of where I live (East TN) but I think the leadership is too fearful of upsetting the congregation.

    As someone who wants to see change and growth and more evangelism happen, what is the best way to approach the change without ruffling so many feathers?

  7. Laura,

    I can empathize with you on the church transition. It is not easy for a church to move in that direction.

    As for your question…I don’t know how involved you are or what your church does…but here is my take.

    We as Christians have become too relient on “our church” to do things for us. We as Christians should be the ones reaching people in the community. We as Christians should be the ones exacting change. Not necessarily “our church”.

    For example; there were a few young men at our church who realized that we didn’t really have an effective ministry for the 20 something crowd…so they started one. It does not meet at the church and does not have to meet at the church.
    They saw the need and did what it took to see change happen.

    I realize that some churches frown on that kind of “free ministry” happening, because they feel the need to control it. If your church is that kind of church, I would suggest that you prayerfully consider moving on.

    And by the way, change will always ruffle sombody’s feathers!

    I hope I answered your question.

  8. It’s good to know that others have the courage to say what so many of us are dicerning. I sing at a large church. The most terrifying thing in my life right now is trying to find the courage to tell my worship pastor that we are missing something very big. I don’t want to do it any more. I just want to run away from the pain that all this religion is causing in me. It’s sad because we’re the “non-denominational’ church that says that christianity is about Relationship and not religion. But in saying that over and over we have become what we desperately hate. But why don’t they see it?

  9. Melissa,
    I know what you mean…until very recently, I was on staff at a ‘mega church’ as the worship pastor, and I kept pushing for more…more authenticity, more creativity, more passion, and was not given what I needed from the senior leadership to make this happen.
    We have turned church into this cookie cutter formula that looks good from the outside but has no depth…it is just surface emotion.
    I would encourage you to pray about what you will say to your worship pastor before speaking to him. Ultimately though…if your heart does not line up with the vision for that church or worship team…you are in the wrong place…and it is time to go. BUT…you should only proceed with moving AFTER you have heard from God. Do not base what you do on emotion.
    Please feel free to email me at if you have any questions or concerns.

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