1. “The methods change, but the message stays the same.”
This is a popular mantra of churches doing things to stay ‘culturally relevant.’ There is nothing inherently wrong with attempting cultural relevance, that I can see, but the rationale behind our methods deserves a better grounding than just “an unchanging message.” That’s not real rationale for this method or that method. In fact, a strong case can be made that methods are a message. Methods are not neutral. They are loaded. They are loaded with a particular anthropology (take on human persons), whether we realize that or not. And most importantly, they are loaded with influencing power to shape us into particular kinds of people. We need to think critically about the methods we use, because they are part-and-parcel of a “message.”
2. Church gatherings as an “experience.”
It’s no longer very hip to talk about a “church service.” It’s becoming popular to talk about an “experience” or maybe, “our worship experience.” This seems to relocate the focus of gathering from God to… well… us. Our experience… I mean, just listen to the way that sounds. Say it out loud, “worship… experience.” How far have we moved away from a God-centered gathering when the very name of the thing centers around the experience of the people? Maybe I’m just a little hypersensitive to hints of consumerism in the church, but I think this needs a hard look, and probably a swift boot.
3. We’re “relevant”… “authentic”… “contemporary”… etc.
The fact that we call ourselves something does not make it so, and worse, calling ourselves that may even give us a false sense of security that we are that, without actually being it! (Relevance is in the eye of the beholder.) Let’s face it, even if we call ourselves “relevant” we’re probably trafficking in manifold levels of irrelevance. We all are. Calling ourselves “relevant” is the fastest way to mask our irrelevance from our own eyes, and keeps us from asking tough questions about whether what we’re doing is truly relevant at all. “Authentic” as opposed to what?… fake? And are we a Mexican restaurant? Finally, some churches are offering “contemporary” services. Maybe they have a “traditional” and “contemporary” service. Ah yes, church a la carte! Anyhow, can we just stop using silly adjectives and just do what we do?