Many today view the church as insignificant and irrelevant, and therefore, the church is seeing many exit its doors and never returning. What are the reasons why people view the church in this way? How can the church counteract this perspective? These questions are explored so that we might understand what it means to be the church in today’s world and how we can participate in being God’s people in a way that is both significant and relevant.
In this sermon, Cedrick Baker addresses the topic of the significance of the church and why people view it as irrelevant in our age. In order to address the common conclusion that the church is irrelevant, we must be willing to honestly tackle the issues that cause people to make this claim and offer solutions that address the problem. We find solutions when we realize the true nature of the church, specifically that it is not a building or an organization. Instead, we need to see the church as the people, comprised of individuals with gifts and talents that can be offered to the community for the community’s encouragement
Cedrick opens the sermon by talking about his childhood in the church and how much it meant to his early life. He also shares how his parents confessed that they could not have imagined their lives without the presence of the people who comprised their church. Cedrick’s parents saw this group of people as pivotal to their life as it served as a safety net, support system, and social network.
Unfortunately, many people today do not share this experience. Many see the church as irrelevant. In 2019, Lifeway reported the top reasons people stop going to church. They are:
- People just get out of the habit of going
- Many young adults stop going after they graduate from high school
- They say they don’t relate to the “institutional church”
- They experienced hurt by the church
- They couldn’t find a church that meets their needs
- They never felt connected to the church
- They were never invested in the church (time, volunteering, giving, etc.)
Cedrick points out three reasons why people are finding the church to be irrelevant. First, people embrace what he calls DIY (do it yourself) spirituality. They develop a form of inner-life on their own, without any reference to a community, leadership, or a tradition. Secondly, many experience churches that are failing to address important social issues, like racial discrimination, creation care, homelessness, and economic inequality. They want the gospel to mean something for the way we live, not just the way that people think. Third, people do not experience community in the church. People don’t see the value of the church playing a role in how they live their life and the circle of people in which they do it.
In response, we must remember that the church is made up of people like us. It is not a building. This is seen in the focus scripture above. It’s easier to say that the church is socially irrelevant, but it’s harder to hear that “I am” becoming socially irrelevant, as a part of the body of Christ. Society needs our prayers, but it also needs our creativity, giftings, skills, our thoughtfulness in solving problems, and love shown in meeting needs. This requires the contribution of everyone, not just those who hold positions in the church organization. Woodland Hills creates an enabling environment for us to come together and share, grow, congregate, and do life together while being a blessing to others in the community. But that doesn’t negate our individual responsibilities to use our giftings, talents, skills, and blessings that God has given us outside the walls of this building.Jesus said, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.” ( Mark 16:15). The gospel makes what we are doing relevant. This is not just about the words of the gospel. This pertains to our actions because people see what we are doing more than they are hearing what we are saying.
To move in this direction, Cedrick offers a two-step challenge. First, ask yourself, what’s on your heart? What are you good at and see as a need? How can you share your skills, passions, and interests to further make a difference in our community? Begin to identify and pray through these things, even if you don’t see how they are possible. Secondly, talk with someone in this church community about your thinking. Make it real and bring it to life with your words. You may not know how to enact it yet, or there may already be a vehicle to serve or support those in need, but we must create a connection that strengths us as a community. And through these conversations, God will make a path for your gifts to arise and bring forth the gospel in a relevant way.
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