The Alliance


The Church - Irrelevant or Irresistible?

Durwood SneadA huge problem confronts the worldwide evangelical community today. The local church is considered irrelevant to most who are outside the faith, and church attendance seems to indicate that this is true among many believers as well. While the vision of planting churches around the world that provide every person with the opportunity to attend an evangelical church is exciting, it is disturbing that so many churches worldwide do not seem to be attractive, effective or growing.

Why has the church become irrelevant in the minds of so many? Success breeds complacency and complacency breeds failure. Did the church become so successful that we stopped changing as society and culture around us changed at a breakneck pace? Are we still doing church the way we did it twenty, thirty and forty years ago? Why are so many young people abandoning the church in record numbers and becoming disillusioned with it?

We live in an exciting time of incredible change with unprecedented opportunities to reach people for Christ. In the last ten years internet cafes have emerged in places that barely had telephones a few years ago. E-mail has made instantaneous, worldwide communication a reality. Satellite television reaches all corners of the earth with both good and bad images. A globalized workforce has enabled interaction of cultures to solve problems and meet needs. Cultures that have remained stable for decades are being transformed overnight.

Something will fill the void created by these rapid changes. What will it be - Satan's selfishness, greed and materialism or thoughts of a personal relationship with God? The battle rages but is the church responding to the culture or retreating in a spirit of traditionalism and rigidity?So what does this have to do with the church? We need to consider a big question. Is the church irrelevant to people or irresistible? Many people around the world feel that church has nothing to do with their everyday lives - that it is only there to tell them what not to do and to take their money.

Like the Pharisees of Jesus' time, the church has become exclusionary- a private place for believers to assemble; not a place that is safe and attractive to those who do not have a personal relationship with Christ. Christ was attractive. He found people where they were and met their needs. He talked to the woman at the well about water. He turned water into wine when a wedding party needed it. He healed the sick. He taught about money, relationships, marriage, work, and serving.

Culture is like the wind. It constantly shifts and, it is difficult to harness but we see the evidence of its impact on how people live and think. Like the wind, we can ignore culture and allow it to blow people where it will, or we can use it like a sail on a boat to lead people to Christ. Jesus never changed the message of truth, but he presented it to people in a way that made sense. He used the culture to teach people what was eternal. Relevance is not diluting the truth, but using the culture to teach the truth in a way that attracts people.

What does relevance look like in today's culture? It starts with creating environments that are attractive to those outside the faith. It may be a café for young people in Slovakia, a center for cultural thought for university students and professors in Macedonia, or a romantic night at church discussing marriage for married couples in Bosnia and Herzogovina. It could be an exciting production for children and parents in the community talking about values from scripture.

In our churches are we talking about the practical issues of life? Are we providing helpful information to people? Do unbelievers that visit our churches feel drawn to come back or do they feel they came to the wrong family reunion? Are we planning our services with unbelievers as a central focus or are we only planning around blessing our believing attendees? Jesus said he came to seek and to save those who are lost. With all of the changes occurring around us worldwide, the church must respond. Nothing is off limits. Our God-given creativity is a tool that God has given us to make the church a place where people want to come.

Our Heavenly Father is irresistible but Satan has blinded the minds of so many and in some cases is using the church itself as a barrier. God created the church to be His vehicle for bringing His blessing to the world. God has given each of us the power of the Holy Spirit - the same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead. He has given us creativity, wisdom, common sense and everything we need to reach the world. Now is the time for the church to respond in the power and wisdom of the Holy Spirit by breaking free from the bonds of traditionalism and bringing the message of truth and redemption to the world in a way they can understand it. Change is not the enemy, but irrelevance is.

Durwood Snead




To the Top


Homepage | Who We Are | What We Believe | Where We Work | Prayer Requests
Upcoming Events | Resources | Partners | Contact Info