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The Irrelevant Church

I read the worrying cries of religious leaders who fear the 21st century church is becoming irrelevant. They note our dwindling numbers, lack of social impact, and the marginalizing of our message. They stand up and sound the trumpet, heralding their solutions to our increasing invisibility in the world. With them, I’m deeply disturbed by these things. But to be frank, I’m not nearly as disturbed by the wreck we are in as I am with the remedy they propose.

You see, the fact is that the church has always been an irrelevant and despised minority in the eyes of the world. We were never the world’s darling, nor shall we ever be. We are, and must be content to be, as the Apostle Paul puts it, the “filth of the world, the offscouring of all things until now (1 Cor 4:13).” While we do not go about trying to make a bother of ourselves, our message will always be unpalatable to the taste buds of unregenerate man. Jesus warned us “Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for so did their fathers to the false prophets (Luke 6:26).” This is not an excuse to be rude. It is simply a fact that people have always “loved darkness, rather than the light (John 3:19).” Apart from God’s grace, so would we.

Some of these solutions proposed to reverse our irrelevance are far more frightening than the trouble we are in. I recently read an extended article by a well-known Christian pastor and author who is advocating for a whole new way of approaching our generation with the Christian faith. He was articulate. He was persuasive. He claimed to know the way we should go, and was quite dogmatic that his way was right. But sadly, it was a way devoid of the cross of Jesus Christ, devoid of the authoritative preaching of the gospel about sin (encouraging, as an alternative, that dealing with sin should be left to Christian artists), and the utter absence of the idea of Godliness or Holiness motivated by both a healthy fear of God and love for God.

Yes, my friends, the church is irrelevant…to the world. But she is dearly loved by Jesus Christ. He died and gave Himself for her. To Him she must be faithful, whatever may be the cost to our worldly relevance.

Photo by Debby Hudson on Unsplash

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