Is The Church Relevant Today?

Dec 15, 2019

Again and again we hear reports of pastors and other church leaders who are walking away from their calling to serve Jesus Christ in His Church. We also hear of church members who are frustrated by leaders who, instead of listening to their needs, seem only to be interested in keeping the church running smoothly. The increasing number of disillusioned pastors and parishioners who feel mistreated and abused by the Church is creating a huge problem in the Church. When you add the growing trend to dismiss the Church as being outdated and unconnected to the “real world,” you have identified a major crisis facing the Church today. This situation results in many churches simply closing their doors. Others find they cannot support a facility, so they are sharing a building with other congregations. Still other churches feel impelled to redefine the Church and what its message should be.

Instead of asking if the Church is irrelevant, I would much rather ask “How can the Church be more relevant?”


Many voices are proclaiming, “The Church has become irrelevant to our culture.” Terms like “post-Christianity” and “post-modernism” pepper Christian writings.

Has the Church really become irrelevant an do we really need another article attempting to answer this question? I would like to add a practical voice to the dialogue, not to cause confusion, but to bring clarity to the issue and suggest a response that fits with God’s original intent for His Church.

Instead of asking if the Church is irrelevant, I would much rather ask “How can the Church be more relevant?” Afterall, as long as the Holy Spirit is here on earth, the Church will never be irrelevant. In our search for increased relevance, I think it might be helpful to understand what the Church is and how it functions. Somewhere during the 3 rd century after Christ’s death the Church began to see itself more as an organization than as an organism (a living thing). When the Church made this switch in perception, it unavoidably took on the aspects of an organization:

  • An organization exists primarily for itself and its own survival
  • A majority of an organization’s resources must be directed toward maintaining and expanding the organization
  • Organizations require an authority structure: the leaders direct the members
  • Members of an organization are required to comply with the leaders or face disciplinary actions
  • An organization needs to find new members in order to survive and prosper
    • Members are seen as resources used to nurture the organization
    • Needs of an organization are considered more important than the needs of its members
  • The community is seen as a resource for the organization
    • The organization is separate from the community (the community is not part of the organization and the organization is not really a part of the community)
    • The community is viewed as a resource to provide for the organization’s needs
      • The community is expected to provide services without cost
      • The community is viewed as the primary resource for getting new members

This is not what God intended the Church to be. God clearly thinks of the Church as a living organism; we are the Body of Christ. That does not mean that the Church shouldn’t have organizational aspects. Without the organization of the church the members would be limited in their ability to accomplish its mission.  However, the organization of the church is to support the organism, not the other way around. To avoid confusion, from this point I will refer to  the organizational aspect of the Church as the congregation and the organism of the Church as the Church.

As an organism the Church looks completely different.

  • The Church organism exists for the world (the Church was sent into the world to meet the world’s needs)
  • Resources of the congregations are directed toward the needs of the organism (specifically to accomplish the mission of the Church)
  • Leaders are part of the organism
    • Leadership is through action and service, not by authority
    • Making the organization run smoothly by complying with the members “wants” s not the leader’s primary function
    • Leaders are more like player-coaches rather than like bosses
  • Members are joined together as a living being for the purpose of accomplishing a specific mission
    • Each member has equal value
    • Each member has needs that the organization helps provide for
  • The mission of the Church is to make disciples of all men
    • The church isn’t commissioned to make new members for the church
    • The church is commissioned to make new disciples of Jesus Christ
      • Jesus jumped into the community. He saw the community as part of Him and Himself as part of the community.
        • He walked there
        • He ate there
        • He fed people there
        • He healed people there
        • He delivered people there
        • He touched people with the Love of the Father there
      • His Church is intended to look and act just like Him
        • To be a disciple of someone means to become like that person
        • He sent us the same way He was sent (John 20:21 “Peace be with
          you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.”)
      • The Church is a resource for the community
        • Remember, the congregation is only a resouce for the Church
        • The congregation is part of the community
        • The community is part of the congregation

For the Church to become more relevant in the community, it must recover a Biblical vision of who and what it is. Many congregations have operated with a primary mission of self-enrichment and survival for years. In order for these congregations to once again become relevant in their communities they must be “re-missioned.” Many voices are claiming that the Church needs to makes itself more attractive to the world, so that the world will be drawn to it. The truth is, the Church is called to reveal how attractive people are to God by giving itself for them. It is this belief that caused One Heart Ministries to form Re-Missioned as a resource for the local congregations. The world desperately needs the Church to be “re-missioned” into the organism God intended it to be.

Pastor Don Suiter (January 2020)