Is the church relevant and credible within our society anymore?
As I look to share a response to this question, I am reminded of the sacrifice my Jesus made for us all. As the writer in Hebrews states “…for the joy that was set before him, He endured the cross”.(1) I firmly believe that this joy was the opportunity we now have to be reconciled to our Creator through the ultimate sacrifice made.(2)
“We can make people attend to the Christian point of view for half an hour or so, but the moment they have gone away from our lecture or laid down our article, they are plunged back into a world where the opposite position is taken for granted. As long as that situation exists, widespread success is simply impossible”
- CS Lewis
I will respond to this one question with many! Do we believe that God’s image is in those around us and God’s breath is what enlivens them?(3) That God’s love for them is stronger than any sin or evil that has beleaguered them or hardened their heart?(4) Do we respect the integrity of their journey and story? Do we listen honestly and openly, without any hidden agenda or attempts to steer them toward our insights?(5) Have we formed a relationship sincere enough to hear their hearts cry?
What if they saw our suffering, past and present? What if they heard and saw that we had and have experienced a “cross” similar to their own? That we are not insusceptible to the challenges that our culture and society present. Could we model for them an alternative way to engage in the struggle?(6) Can we demonstrate that any hope, life, love, joy and peace we have received have been gifts given by God, even through our times of pain, struggle, loss and defeat?(7)
Do we believe that the truth of who God is could be discovered by them when we walk with them in their daily lives, whether through homemaking or childrearing, through sport or art, through relationships at home or at work, through seeking asylum or migrating to a new land, or through some kind of service or volunteering? What if we were to invite and welcome others into our homes rather than just our churches?(8)
To build, or re-build, credibility will take time. Our churches and services may be relevant to the faith community, but our everyday lives are just as relevant as any other. Who will you invite along with you through your everyday?(9)
Want to continue the conversation? Contact Amit on: firstname.lastname@example.org
1 Have a look at Hebrews 12. It’s a good read.
2 Restoration and reconciliation now again made possible.
3 We are “creatures of the creator”. Like that one?
4 I am answering a question here but the ‘ol twig and log analogy rings very true. Sin and evil can also be like a plague for you and I, we are not immune from this, just stronger in the battle...at least we are meant to be!
5 Here is another gem you can use...”we serve to love, not serve to save”.
6 I might be jumping the gun with this footnote, but I am not talking about the way we present ourselves in church. I’m talking about how we deal with our kids after being woken up three times through the night! (can I get an AMEN parents?) I’m talking about the “sink-full- of-dishes-basket-full-of-laundry-toys-on-the-floor-nothing-in-the-fridge-unflushed-toilets-weeds-more-than-grass-just-need-a-break” #life. Here is another classic, “a turd polished is still a turd”. Lets not play games and wear masks, lets be genuine.
7 Tim McCowan calls this the “messianic pattern of Jesus”. To explore this concept more, have a look at his work.
8 There is something sacred about practicing hospitality. Maybe its a cultural thing, but I’m convinced!
9 Thanks to Tim McCowan OAM, Senior Lecturer in Spirituality at Stirling Theological College, for inspiring this piece.