Establishing Presence

I’ve heard a lot over the past several years about the church becoming “culturally relevant.”  If we make the church hip, more like MTV or Saturday Night Live (or whatever is hip today), then people will flock to our churches and find Jesus “relevant.”  Here’s the deal:  we’re attracting people, but rarely are they people that need Jesus.  We’re attracting people from other churches with our rock shows and video screens.  I recently had a new friend boldly tell me that simple churches won’t work in Greenville because “of the culture.”  He said that someone who wakes up needed to change their life won’t go to an organic church on Sunday.  They’ll go to a church where the gospel is “proclaimed publicly.”  I let him have his say.  I don’t think he’s correct, but it’s cool.

Most church planters think if they design a church that fits the culture, it will be culturally relevant.  I used to think that, but now I’m convinced that making multiplying disciples first will result in a church rising up out of the culture (super)naturally.  Cultural relevancy, then, is irrelevant.  I love what Neil Cole says about this–we need to inject Jesus into a culture and see the church sprout, not inject the church into a culture and hope to see people follow Jesus.

In that vein of thinking, we may have established presence in a “3rd place” in Greenville.  Most of you will read this and think, “What’s the big deal?”  It will seem incredibly underwhelming.  But this could become significant.  For the last two weeks, my buddy Trevor and I have gone to BW3’s to watch either Sunday Night Football or Monday Night Football.  Monday Night Football is, by far, more popular.  Here’s all that happened:  our waitress who waited on us last week recognized us and, even though she wasn’t our waitress last night, came over and talked to us.  We chatted about football (she’s a Steelers fan–too bad my Bears beat them on Sunday), and she told us about nursing school.  We told her it was cool to see her again, and she said likewise.  Then Payton Manning hit Dallas Clark for the game’s first points on the first play from scrimmage.

Yeah, I know.  Nothing to sneeze at.  But it only takes one person.  As we continue to frequent BW3’s, hopefully we’ll continue to establish further presence with more employees, and maybe even others who are regulars.  Then the significant conversations start:  how can we serve you guys, looking for people who are broken (Monday night is fun, but Tuesday’s just around the corner… back to a sucky life).

The moral of the story:  always make the main thing secondary.  Make injecting Jesus primary (even if it is during Monday Night Football).  We’ll see what God does.

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About Aaron

Aaron is a follower of Jesus. He's married to his smokin' hot wife Laura and is the father of three adorable girls. He enjoys a robust cigar, a complex root beer, a good movie, writing, football, thought-provoking books, and rousing discussions about subjects you're not supposed to talk about (like theology and politics). Religious people irritate him (because he once was one). He's on a quest to find the perfect dry rub and sauce for ribs.
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4 Responses to Establishing Presence

  1. RyanD says:

    In the end, I believe “relevant” is relative. It’s the kind of people in a faith community who make it relevant, or irrelevant. Things like rock shows and video screens can be indicative of the kind of people who are part of a certain faith community… and that may be mildly attractive to some people. But nobody will commit to a church because of video screens–they’ll commit because they’ve made connections to identifiable, empathetic people. While I haven’t read Cole, I think he’s on the right track… but I wouldn’t completely agree that relevancy is irrelevant. A group of people who help define meaning for my life and bring support is HUGELY relevant. I guess where we get lost is where we choose to define our “relevancy”.

    • RyanD says:

      Oh… and go Bears.

    • Aaron says:

      Good thoughts, Ryan. The key, as you’ve pointed out, is people. When it comes to church (existing or planting), the prevailing pattern seems to be ecclesiology leads to missiology leads to Christology. From my experience, when we start with church (and when we plant a “Sunday” event, we’re starting with church), we rarely produce disciples that are relevant to reaching others who need Jesus. But if our Christology leads to missiology leads to ecclesiology, the church that sprouts will always be culturally relevant, because it will naturally rise up out of the culture.

      Great thoughts, dude.

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