Core Value: Irrelevance is Irreverence

Irrelevance is one of the major claims made against the church today. Worse yet is that when the church is determined to be irrelevant, then God and His Word are perceived to be the same. “How does that apply to me? How can something that happened thousands of years ago help my marriage?” are just a couple of questions asked by those in a typical church service. Conclusions have been drawn about God’s Word without a true consideration of its value. What a terrible injustice. What a despicable crime. Shame on…US. You heard me right. Its our fault they can’t find natural significance in spiritual things, its mine and its yours. When we fail to communicate in a relevant way, we force the conclusion that what we are talking about doesn’t apply to them. And frankly, that is just plain irreverent.

Irreverence, when speaking of communication, is just a fancy way of saying that we didn’t consider our listener. We created a stunning lesson, a series of Greek and Hebrew words and some history that would make your eyes cross. The only problem…your audience doesn’t care. Why should they? This is interesting stuff to you but most likely they have real problems that need real answers and the measurements of the Ark of the Covenant don’t seem to fit the bill.In my limited training for public speaking I was taught something very obvious and yet very profound. So much so most people miss it until its pointed out to them. In every speaking situation there are three elements: the speaker, the message and the audience. Where we place the priority is where things get messed up. If I were to ask you which element is the most important, what would you say? If you said the message you would be…wrong. We know as Christians that we have the most important message of all, but if there is no one to speak it what good does it do? Most of you perhaps fell for my trap and have immediately changed your answer to the speaker. If you did you would be wrong again. In fact, the speaker is the least important. God will use anyone no matter how talented or untalented they may be. The most important element in any speaking situation is the audience.

Here is probably the most well known verse in the Bible: “For God so loved the world (the audience), He gave His only begotten Son (the message), that whoever (the audience) believes in Him (the message) should not perish but have everlasting life.” You might say after reading this that it appears that the message is just as important as the audience. I can see why you would say that, but consider this: God loved the audience so much that He gave up His message for them. Most of us need to learn to give up the message for our audience. We may have the coolest presentation and the best facts, but if we are not considering the listener, then we are not communicating the gospel.