Throwback Thursday [Michael W. Smith]

October 26, 2017 Comments Off on Relevance is relative Views: 1153 WorshipTrac

Relevance is relative

It always makes me laugh when a church uses the term “Relevant”.

Relevant is that cool buzz word that goes on band tees, sides of buildings, or is strategically placed on a church website next to “real” and “authentic”. I’ve heard the term relevant soo much I’m starting to wonder if anyone actually knows what it means. In the context of a church, what does it mean to be relevant?

A quick Google search defines relevant as “closely connected or appropriate to what is being done or considered.” Let me condense that vague definition to three words in the context of your church: know your people.

Knowing your people means you are engaged in their lives. You know them by name. You know what they do for a living. You know when they need encouraging and you know how to serve them. As a leader, being relevant is less about what you learn from some 4-part conference and more so what you learn from eating dinner with a young family who just joined your church.

Balancing Relevance-

When I was a kid I was what they call “husky”. It was the politically correct way to call a child fat. My parents would tell their friends “oh he’s just husky right now”. Their friends would smile, nod, and walk away saying “I’m glad our kid’s not fat”.

Because of my “huskiness”, see-saws were always a challenge for me. It wasn’t because I would break the see-saws (those things are built like tanks)…it was because I could never find a friend my age the same weight as me. I would often have two of my friends sit on the other side just to make the whole process work. It was a delicate¬†balancing act that often ended up with me stranded sky high and my “friends” laughing at my unfortunate predicament.

Relevance is like a see-saw. You want to have a firm balance between being able to relate as well as challenge your people. Without that balance, you risk being all by yourself with nobody helping you up or down.

As worship leaders, we need to know how to connect with our people in our corporate worship. This includes our song selection, scripture, instrumentation, the design of the service, and overall vibe. This is not done easily. This requires that we go all in with our people. We have to invest the time that it takes to know our people so that we can best glorify God in how we interact with them. Conferences are great (and highly encouraged), but they can never take the place of having a personal relationship with those that you serve.

If relevance means knowing your people, it means you have to challenge them. A great example of this is not falling into a slump of doing the same songs every month and never introducing something new. There’s a reason why a pastor preaches a different message every week. People will never be challenged if they hear the same message over and over again. Instead, they will do one of two things: never grow spiritually, or go to another church that will challenge them to grow spiritually. Music in worship is a powerful thing. Don’t let it get stale and boring by always doing the same thing.


Relevance is relative to your church, not someone else’s. We can never forget the importance of knowing our people and challenging them to reach new heights in their walk with Jesus. Relevance has nothing to do with being current, but everything to do with how you are knowing and challenging your people currently.

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