I realize the need to be contextual when it comes to preaching . . . well, to a point. To clarify, I believe it’s important to present the ageless truths of the Word in a form that can be applicable today. However, I am wrestling greatly with the need for the entire worship service to be contextual.
Maybe it’s just me, or just Compass Point or the fact that I may not totally understand the term ‘contextual’, but I’m not sure it’s really that important. I mean if an unchurched person shows up at a church my assumption is they are looking for something the world is not providing. So why try so hard to be more culturally relevant with the way we worship or conduct church services? I’m finding in our young, unchurched Compass Point folks that culture is leaving them hanging and they are hungering for something more. Thus they come to church.
In talking with some of our artsy-fartsy, 20-somethings, they liken it to the geek in high school that tries too hard to hang with the cool kids. A church trying too hard to be culturally relevant and contextual just looks . . . well, cheesy. The younger generation seems to have a well-tuned BS detector and apparently red warning lights are going off at churches all over the place.
One of guys that recently came to Compass Point has never really attended a church on a regular basis. He plays in a local band and most Saturday nights he’s headlining in one of the Lakeland clubs. Yet, every Sunday morning there he is sitting in the service taking notes. I asked him why? He said we didn’t try to be cool.
I’m not sure what that means. I’m not even sure I like hearing that. However, he told me about a church he visited a year ago in Ohio while he was on tour. He talked about how fake they were while trying to look cool. I asked him to pinpoint the fake part. He described how a praise band full of middle-aged white guys that look liked the Best Buy Geek Squad was playing Green Day’s "Boulevard Of Broken Dreams" during the service for no apprent reason. He talked about how the preacher really reached to work the song into his sermon as a form of an illustration. All this was done in the name of being relevant. It made them seem unrelevant to everyone but normal church folks and the staff.
I guess what I wrestle with is that maybe we . . . I . . . should not worry so much about keeping up with culture. Maybe being contextual has become the "end all and be all" of Sunday mornings, when just presenting the Gospel and worshipping God with abandon is good enough? Maybe the idea is to let the church be the church and the world be the world? I wrestle with the fact that maybe Compass Point should be such a contrast to the world that world wakes up and takes notice. Maybe the idea is not to create an environment that appeals to the consumerism, culturally-relevant, sitcom-driven, top-40 music playing, apathetic masses? Maybe we should just be the opposite?