Church, Cross Posts

Intimate Church: Real versus Relevant


I’ve started another site that I am calling Intimate Church: the strength of the under 200 congregation (title is still in the works). On the site, I am going to be posting what I hope will evolve into a larger project.

The project started with the frustration of reading books supposedly written for churches but really written for churches larger than 200 and designed to make them into megachurches (or what I refer to as mini-megachurches, churches under 1,000 who try to behave like megachurches).

I am going to cross post the entries for awhile and see if the project takes shape.

All of This Talk about Relevance

Megachurch pastors love to talk about relevance. They tell church leaders that they need to develop an approach to ministry that is relevant. What do they mean? Watch this blurb from The Wretched Network.

That strange older gentleman wearing the strange t-shirt (and possibly skinny jeans…) is Steve Munsey, pastor of Family Christian Center in Munster, Indiana. He is my father’s age and has been the pastor at that church since 1985. Back when the only channels we got in our basic cable package were the networks and Daystar, I used to watch him. Well, technically, I used to yell at him a lot but he couldn’t hear me since he was on television and I was on my couch.

He used to look like this:

And then sometime in the last decade or so, he started dressing like this:

Remember, this is a guy who is in his late fifties, who has an earned doctorate, who has grandchildren. He is wearing Abercrombie and Fitch t-shirts. Why?

Because he believes he is being relevant.

I don’t mean to pick on Dr. Munsey, but doesn’t it seem a little disingenuous? Are we supposed to really believe that this is genuine? He is the pastoral equivalent of the fifty year old women wearing thongs and squeezing into form-fitting, breast-exposing shirts to show they are ‘still sexy.’

All of this comes about because what church growth gurus mean by relevant is hip and cool. That means that if being cool is about having a fauxhawk and a soul patch, then that is what being relevant is. If being postmodern and relativistic or syncretist is what is cool, then you have to be that way in order to be relevant.

Being Real

One of the best things about a truly intimate congregation is that we don’t need to try to be relevant. That is because if we’re being honest with ourselves, we are already being real.

I am perpetually amazed by the number of small church pastors who do not understand that one of the greatest virtues of their congregation size is that they don’t need to “sell” themselves to these people. We can be real.

It is a lie that you need to be something you are not in order to get people into your church. In the end, you are lying to yourself and to these ‘new people’ because you are pretending to be someone you are not.

Be real – true to yourself and true to the Word of God.


2 thoughts on “Intimate Church: Real versus Relevant”

  1. You are so right about being real. I too find that many small church pastors have not yet discovered the beauty and strength of their size. But more and more seem to be coming around and that will help the ministry of the kingdom. I don’t know the preacher you use as an illustration. I must say I’m in my fifties and not longer preach in a suit and tie but I don’t feel like that makes me disingenuous just a little more comfortable 🙂 God bless you with your new site.
    Terry Reed
    Small Church Tools

    1. Nothing wrong with dressing comfortably. I dress casual myself, although I’m much younger. There is a problem if a pastor tries to dress like a kid when he is supposed to be a shepherd.

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