A few years ago, I was asked to be preach as a guest minister at a neighboring Community of Christ congregation. Wanting to energize and be vibrant I prepared a message focused on outreach. Upon arriving, I immediately found out the small congregation had three members pass away within the last few months with the most recent coming two weeks before. The thought maybe what I had prepared was not right for this moment went through my head. Unfortunately, I pushed those thoughts away and went with what I had. Immediately after I preached my sermon, I recall feeling an emptiness knowing that this is not what these people needed. I knew I had missed the opportunity to help this group grieve together. I was unwilling to be to be relevant in the moment. In looking back I should have stopped the service right then and there and led a time of sharing focused on the lives of those that went before us. These people were hurting and needed time to love one another and dwell in their pain together.
This experience comes to mind when I think about why some people stop attending church. Relevance! When churches aren't relevant to the needs of the people they become disposable. The needs of the people refer to those both inside and especially outside of the church, meaning those in the community.
You may be someone that is searching for relevance in a church or exploring what that is for your life. This may be different from person to person however the searching is what's important. When we search for relevant ways in which God can be involved in our lives we encounter the divine.
Below I have three ways to search for relevance in our spiritual lives.
Relevance Through Authentic Relationships
Relationships matter! It is through others where we connect with God and allow ourselves to love. Real and authentic relationships make us feel affirmed because we are accepted for who we are. Real and Authentic relationships value and hold up the worth of others. Real and authentic relationships throw away facades, status, and all other titles to see a person as a beloved child of God.
Who do you have a real and authentic relationship with? Who really knows you? How can you share more of yourself with others? This is hard! It takes courage! It's something I still am learning how to do. Seeking approval and status keeps us walking in circles but being real takes us further down the road of self-discovery. Assess your relationships this week and identify how you can be more authentic.
Relevance Through Engagement
Relevance can also come from engaging your community. This can come from being an active voice for those who do not have one or providing a service that positively impacts those around you. Many find purpose in giving themselves in ways that contribute to others success. When churches are active outside their own walls the gospel suddenly becomes more real and relevant. Lewis Center for Church Leadership gives 50 ideas of how churches can engage their community. Click here to check it out. Engage your community! Search and learn about your city. What are the needs? Who doesn't have a voice that needs to be heard? Where are injustices happening that need to be resolved? What small part can you play in your community?
Relevance Through Christ
Sacrificial love exemplified by Christ is the paramount of relevance. I believe there is nothing more relevant or touching in our lives than sacrificial love. In asking who was Jesus and what did he do, we get an assortment of answers ultimately leading us to live out a life of love. Jesus life was all about loving others all the way through to his death. It is in Jesus where God's love is shown. I have met a variety of people with various levels of Christology or views of Christ and all of them can find some sort of connection to Jesus and the message he lived. So take time to answer the question who was Jesus, what did he do, and why does it matter to you?
Some of you searching may be struggling with these questions already because you have been taught various things about Jesus growing up only to now start asking the deeper questions. This may have produced shame for questioning these beliefs or you may have been rebuked when trying to answer them with others. Here questioning is valued and an important part of our spiritual journey. One question that comes to mind is what does it mean for Jesus to be both Human and Divine? I don't have all the answers but just maybe we can figure them out together. I hope through your questioning you can find relevance in the life of Jesus, because in Jesus there is love.
Thank you for all those following along! Continue to follow us on instagram or twitter to know when we put out a new post. This week learn about your community. Find out the good, the bad, and the ugly and then just let that information dwell. Hopefully as it dwells discernment will come to how you can be a positive influence to those around you.
Craig Hidy like the majority of ministers in Community of Christ is a bi-vocational, self sustaining ordained minister. He is a member of the Midlands Mission Center Emporia Team and an ordained Seventy. He and his family, live in Topeka, Kansas.
What is a Seventy?
The Seventy carry out missionary work for the church in close association with other missionary leaders. They represent Christ primarily as ministers of evangelism through witnessing, inviting, and church planting. They especially proclaim and promote Jesus Christ’s invitation to faithful discipleship through vibrant witness, and train individuals and congregations in witness and invitation. They particularly minister with seekers, individually and in groups, to share the gospel in relevant ways and to invite response. They support sacramental ministries by preparing people for baptism and/or confirmation, presiding at sacramental services, and performing most sacraments. They promote community by inviting individuals, households, and families to respond to Christ’s call to discipleship. They promote justice and peacemaking by inviting people to experience all aspects of Christ’s peace through active discipleship. They create ministry partnerships with mission center officers, apostles, elders, and evangelists.
The views expressed here are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of Community of Christ or Midlands Mission Center. We believe individuals should be allowed to have their own opinions and be at different places in their faith journey.