It’s truly fascinating how certain words conjure up intense emotions in people. Heated debates ignite around terms like “seekers,” “contemporary,” “innovative,” or “relevance” among preachers; you can’t help but notice. These discussions might go in different directions, but in many respects, the words themselves should not be up for debate.
While some people firmly resist the notion of a church being labeled as “contemporary” or “culturally relevant,” hardly anyone would contest that Jesus is the most relevant figure in history. Let’s consider that Jesus perfectly aligned Himself with the culture He aimed to reach. His identity and actions resonated with people profoundly.
Jesus communicated using the language of those He aimed to reach. His clothing mirrored theirs; He ate the same food and listened to the same music, all to establish a profound connection. Jesus, without a doubt, didn’t operate in isolation but instead identified with the very fabric of the society He encountered.
If Jesus exhibited relevance within His cultural context, local churches today should be equally relevant within their culture. As followers of Christ, we carry a transformative message, one that holds the potential to alter lives. It would be very sad if people couldn’t find common ground with the messengers of Jesus.
In Mark 6, we see a glimpse into Jesus’ cultural engagement. He ate at Levi’s house, mingling with sinners and tax collectors, with His disciples in tow. The world gravitated towards Jesus, drawn by His ability to connect and empathize. Jesus was not detached – He fostered connections. This rapport was so compelling that people chose to follow Him. The Church today should be just as relevant. It should draw people closer to God and ignite in them a desire for deeper connection because of the lives of His followers.
Jesus’ cultural relevance was based on a commitment to steadfast truth. Jesus navigated the task of conveying an unchanging message to an ever-evolving world. This is our same challenge today – upholding the authority of God’s Word while adapting to connect with our intended audience.
When missionaries travel to other countries, they immerse themselves in local culture while preserving their convictions. They resonate with the culture without forsaking their core beliefs. They integrate with the local culture rather than opposing it.
Churches earnestly devoted to making disciples worldwide will find ways to connect with the cultures they aspire to reach. They will do so without compromising their message, striking a balance that bridges the gap with lost seekers who hopefully will one day become fully trained disciples.
Impact Discipleship Ministries can help you if you want to become a disciple-making church. Contact us at impactdisciples.com to learn more about how we can help your church.