R U Relevant?

I have a growing list of items in my RSS reader that I would like to blog about, but don’t seem to be making much headway with it. Tim Larsen’s commentary from Duke’s Faith and Leadership blog has been a recent addition in the last day or two. Larsen writes:

One of our church’s more annoying features is a rather pathetic desperation to be culturally trendy. All I have to do to keep up with the latest celebrity or show or phenomenon is attend corporate worship and sit reverently waiting to hear God’s word expounded.

I think it’s stuck out to me because I have spent the last few days working on a promo video for my circuit’s Lent programme, the Big Read. It’s not going to be anything like the promos at the large churches, but it’s the first time I have tried anything like this. Reading the article, it did make me think, ‘Am I doing this to be trendy?’ In the end, I would say no. I am doing it to put a different spin how the information gets distributed. I wince when I hear announcements for events I run or care about read in a list of items in what can be at times (!) a dull voice.

Still, there must be other times when I try to be trendy. I wonder if the current fascination with twitter and facebook (which is used in a graphic on the article) is a part of that. Perhaps so, but I also think they are good tools for communication. I have a friend who’s driving instructor. He had to get a good texting plan for his mobile because he learned teenagers only text – they don’t answer their phone or listen to voice mail. He needed it to schedule appointments.

Of course, young people know when we are trying to hard. Once as a leader on a youth trip I was talking to the youth director, He could get away with using youth lingo. I answered him, actually mocking him gently, using his lingo (I cannot for the life of me remember what it was I said!). He didn’t catch on, but a 13-year old looked at me and said, ‘Will – NO! You can’t talk like that! You can’t get away with it.’ The thing is, she liked me just fine. I didn’t need to be trendy. And she knew when I wasn’t being genuine.

Lauren does make a good point that there are endless opportunities for entertainment, and lots without a bit of religion thrown in. He says that instead of a focus on being relevant we ask, ‘What if we re-evaluated our priorities and work by asking the question, If Christ really had not been raised from the dead, would this be a stupid, absurd and incomprehensible thing to do?’ To that I say a hearty Amen, but what if it’s not all an attempt at being trendy? What if we are trying to speak a language that they understand but at the same time being genuine? How do we keep a generation focused on the immediate without riding that bandwagon trying to get them to think about the eternal?



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