However, there is more to it than just using a praise band for worship and using up-to-date media. For many churches cultural relevance actually means being relevant to only one particular group of people. As a result these churches tailor their styles to that particular group. But what if your community has different types of people? What if being culturally relevant requires different methodologies for the same church?
Could it be that we are currently in the process of raising up another generation that views the church and worship as something that must be tailored specifically to them? We have already been through this once before with the “worship wars” of the last two decades. During this times churches would try to be more “culturally relevant” by adding various instruments in worship or using power point for songs instead of hymnals. As a result some were pleased by the changes while others felt like the church was going in the wrong direction. Why the disagreement? I think it stems from people who are more focused on their selfish desires than on worshipping God.
My fear is that churches who seek to be culturally relevant to only one specific community will raise up more people who are focused on themselves. I am afraid we are catering to the mentality that says, “I can only go to a church that seeks to reach my specific niche in life.”
Instead of continuing to build churches that only reach one segment of the population we need to teach people to be culturally relevant and not just churches as a whole. We must get individuals to adopt Paul’s mindset that we are to be “all things to all people.” By doing so we can allow the church to be what we see in the New Testament, a collection of different people from different cultures. Not one homogeneous unit of cultural relevance.
So what does this look like? I see a church full of people who understand that things such as worship styles, dress codes, building design, etc. are not as important as reaching people. These church members are willing to not have everything in the church exactly as they might prefer. They understand that these methodologies are preferences that vary from person to person. Instead of bickering over non-essentials they are more concerned about making sure their theology is sound and the message is presented in a manner that is culturally relevant to multiple groups of people. In order to do this, they must be willing to sacrifice their own personal preferences from time to time.