What is Relevance?

A few days ago, Scott McClellan threw out a question on the Collide Magazine blog that is worth thinking about. He asked, "What does relevance mean to you?" And, "What doesn't relevance mean to you?" He's working on an article for an upcoming issue.

Here are some thoughts I sent to Scott:

  • Relevance doesn’t necessarily mean cool or flashy or trendy.
  • Relevance doesn’t mean it’s never been done before.
  • Relevance isn't defined by doing something so crazy that you get the attention of church leaders from around the country.
  • Relevance is all about being missional. You are studying the culture and figuring out what works. The goal is to communicate. So you figure out what it takes to communicate (either one-on-one or in a group setting) to the people in front of you.
  • You can’t use blanket statements in regards to relevance. You can’t say, “Your church has a choir so it must be irrelevant” or “Your pastor preaches in faded jeans and a shirt from The Buckle so he must be relevant.” Relevance is contextual—and every context is different.
  • Relevance must be constantly evaluated. What was relevant last year may be irrelevant this year.
  • Relevance is best determined by a team. What seems incredibly relevant to one person may be deemed irrelevant by a crowd of people. We tend to think smarter about these things when we have a diverse team helping us out.
  • Relevance is hard work. At Granger, it is a very high value. In fact, cultural relevance is one of our core values. However, I bet we miss the mark on this three or four times each year. We go into a series totally convinced that it will be a home run—and at times we have found out that it had very little relevance to our crowd. We don't let this discourage us, though. We just keep trying to be better at knowing our culture.
  • Relevance doesn’t necessarily equal “felt need sermon series.” Sometimes it will—like when you deliver a parenting or marriage series because you believe that is the most relevant topic you can offer to connect people to Jesus. At other times, the most relevant thing you can do is offer some theological grounding or invite people to prayer and worship.

That's what I think. What would you add or subtract from this list?

Tim Stevens11 Comments