As I was writing these posts about relevant ministry, I started asking myself, "What in the world does this have to do with media?" You may have been wondering the same thing. The reason I'm exploring this topic further is that the result of current thinking in the area of relevancy is leading to what I would call a media "frenzy." Churches who seek to be relevant tend to have media-centric services. I believe that a right understanding of Paul's ministry as described in 1 Corinthians 9 will help all of us more effectively use media in our churches.
"For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant of all, that I might win more of them." -- 1 Corinthians 9:19
Paul made himself a servant. Now, let's be honest. Although technology and media folks are servants, we don't understand serving like Paul understood serving. Our serving is easy. Our serving is fun. Paul's servanthood was anything but easy.
When interacting with Jews, Paul gave up his rights. He gave up the right to eat whatever he wanted. He purified himself according to Jewish traditions and customs. He even circumcised Timothy to help take the gospel to the Jews. To be relevant to the Jews, Paul became their servant by laying down his freedom in Christ.
When interacting with Gentiles, Paul sacrificed as well. He lived among them, becoming ceremonially unclean and risking loss of the respect of the Jewish Christians. He fought against the Judaizers who wanted to come in and steal the freedom of Gentile Christians (the same freedom he willingly gave up for the Jew's sake). Many of the lifestyles of the Gentiles would have been abhorrent to him, and he constantly required discernment to identify what was sin and what wasn't among his friends. Yet he didn't shy away from walking alongside them.
What can we learn from this?
Paul became relevant to his hearers by laying down his right to freedom in Christ, his personal preferences, and a life of comfort.
Now I have to ask myself these difficult questions:
Does this sound like my life and ministry? Does this sound like my church?
Does this sound like your life and ministry? Does this sound like your church?
Relevance like this is difficult. It requires selflessness. It requires that I stop asserting my rights and satisfying my preferences. It requires that I think of other's needs and desires above my own.
I think this is where many Christians get turned around. We want to be involved in a church that is relevant TO US, that is excellent and inspiring TO US. However, the Bible calls us to be involved in ministry that sets US aside and is relevant to others.
Is that your heart?
Are you willing to lay down your personal preferences in order to more effectively reach the lost?
Are you ready to change your life, maybe into a form that is less enjoyable, in order to build relationships with your neighbors?
Are you open to using media in church that doesn't suit your tastes but will draw in the people in your community?
Would you be so daring as to attend a church that didn't use the musical style you prefer but was having a clear impact on its community through the true gospel of Jesus Christ?
Are you willing to be truly relevant?
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