I’ve been meaning to blog for several weeks and things have just been so crazy around here I haven’t had time. In that time many ideas have come and gone bringing me to the conclusion that I need to buy a literate flying monkey to fly over my shoulder so that I can simply mutter the idea to him and he can write it down. I think I will name him Rupert. What does that have to do with relevancy? Nothing.
I try to stay pretty well read when it comes to youth ministry and I have heard this line said several times in both the books I read and in the talks I’ve heard: “We have to keep the word of God relevant!” Well I have a problem with that, because either the word of God is relevant or it isn’t. I can’t make God’s word anything other than what it is. What we need to be guarding is our presentation of the Word. By trying to “make God’s word relevant” or focus becomes less on what is God saying to me and more on how can I make God’s word speak. What we do in effect is put words into the mouth of God. Now I don’t know about you but I don’t know that I want to be telling God what he should be saying.
I think we spend too much time trying to show teens and possibly the church how the things in the world look similar to what is in the Bible. We waste hours trying to find video clips and songs that are popular so that we can some how twist them to fit what the Bible says. Basically we try to get the things in this world to speak for God. We end up with ridiculous boxed curriculum like “The Simpson’s Gospel” or “The Office Small Group Study.” I don’t know about you but I don’t want the world telling God what he should be saying.
So what do we do different? We sit down with the book and let it speak to us. We let God speak for Himself. I can’t tell you how many times I have approached my study for class thinking, “Ok here’s what I want to say so how do I use the Bible to make my point?” I do it too much (although doing it at all is too much.) Think real hard and think when was the last time you sat down to read the Bible to see what he had to say to you? Not going in to study a particular subject just to let him talk? How much time do you spend every week reading the new book on relevant ministry or the new “movement in evangelical theology.” Which side is heavier on that scale?
If our presentation of God’s work makes it come off as irrelevant or inapplicable then it’s not God’s word that needs to change, its our presentation. We think we need to make our presentation exciting and entertaining, but does that really mean we need to have 5 video’s of Lost queued up in MediaShout to get kids to pay attention? Is that even for them or have you become bored with the Word? It’s normal and it’s not shameful you just need to realize it and figure out why. Enthusiasm and positivity are contagious, but so are apathy and pessimism. Your attitude comes through in your presentation and saturates your message. If you can’t be enthusiastic about it (no I’m not going to say don’t teach it) then be honest about that and spend some time explaining why you still believe its important even though you aren’t excited about it. That in itself is a lesson we all need to know. Christianity isn’t always light shows and good feelings but of all the things it is, it is ALWAYS relevant.