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Relevance: God's Kingdom Mandate or Cultural Deception?

Relevance: God's Kingdom Mandate or Cultural Deception?

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Relevance: God's Kingdom Mandate or Cultural Deception?

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Apr 11, 2019


Relevance in today's culture has become the quest and mandate of the modern church. Relevance explores the scriptural view of cultural relevance and establishes the legitimacy of the full-gospel church in the climate of Christian political correctness.
Apr 11, 2019

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Relevance - Dr. Shirley Arnold



Something big is happening in the church. After years of conducting a traveling ministry and pastoring a local church body, it is clear to me that a major shift has visited the house of the Lord. This should be no surprise if you have listened to the prophetic words of the last twenty years. It was declared that a new church would arise and would not resemble the traditions of the past. I wholeheartedly agreed and looked forward to the new thing the Lord would do in the next season. I participated in roundtable discussions about the postmodern era and how the church would respond. I began to hear innovative ideas about how to reach our culture and how to breach the walls of the church in order to impact our communities. Again, I was excited about the new season that was coming.

However, the innovative impact has affected the church in ways I could not have imagined. Along with the burden to reach our communities, the philosophy of cultural relevance has become an overarching theme. Change is necessary in every generation. But not all change is for the good. It seems that in some cases, being culturally relevant means adapting to the cultural norm. This raises the following question: Is the culture supposed to impact the church more than the church is impacting the culture?

We listened to all the statistics about why people attend church and why they don’t. Then we began to institute methodologies and strategies that would answer the challenge of why people don’t attend. So the culture voted on what it wanted in a church, and now we have adapted to the culture to give people what they want. The new model of church is more masculine, with shorter services and more social programs. And churches have grown by the thousands as we have given the consumer what they want in this product called church.

Now, don’t get me wrong. There are great people doing great things with what some people would call great success. I do believe that the lost are being reached and the social programs are providing a service greatly needed. However, some concerning side effects have resulted.

The architects and builders of this new philosophy believe that the full-gospel church, with public demonstration of the gifts of the Spirit, including speaking in tongues, is no longer relevant to our society. If we believe in the full operation of the Holy Spirit, both in His person and His giftings, we are ridiculed and considered old-fashioned. This new model tolerates no other model’s existence. So the full-gospel Pentecostal churches are in a battle to preserve the full expression of the Holy Spirit—and many are losing the battle.

I have no argument with those who feel this is the right model to follow. There is much in the culturally relevant movement that I agree with and for which I am thankful. However, I believe we have to examine relevance in light of scriptural understanding. I wrote this book after years of my own search to find the congruence of Scripture with methodology.

I have fallen in love with the church, the glorious and prevailing church that Jesus spoke of. The Scriptures are very clear about how the church should operate by giving us the models in the New Testament. It seems to me that we have to learn how to shift culturally without compromising the full-gospel message.

I recognize that by writing this book, some people will consider me judgmental and blind to all the success of the culturally relevant crowd. After all, if the crowds are coming and the money is flowing, then it has to be God’s will! Right? Again, I am not saying this philosophy is of the devil. I am saying that we need to correct course on how we view the relationship of the church to the community and how the local church should respond. McDonald’s sells millions of hamburgers every year and is certainly considered successful, but some of its food is not healthy.

As you read this book, I hope you are challenged to find the truth according to the Word of God. I hope you find encouragement to stand if you are in a difficult place in this shift. And I hope it points us all to the establishment of the kingdom of God through the restoration of God’s original intent for the church.

The Power of a Moment

One moment can change a life. One moment can alter destiny and write history. One moment can create a movement.

In 1517, a monk named Martin Luther had one such moment. His growing concern with the way the Catholic church was operating—by selling indulgences and teaching people that salvation is based on good works—blossomed into a full revelation of the Scripture that reads, the just shall live by faith. That moment of revelation created a movement called the Reformation that is still in motion today, five hundred years later.

One moment on a bus ride for a woman named Rosa Parks changed the trajectory of the world. The growing discontent of the people who could not tolerate basic human inequality, along with the emergence of a black Baptist preacher named Martin Luther King, exploded into a movement that is still moving.

One moment at a wedding feast in Cana called a carpenter’s son out of the shadows into the spotlight. The hope of a people’s anticipation for a messiah that had withered over many generations was suddenly rekindled when water was turned into wine. A movement was born and is still moving today because there was a revelation of truth.

In the kingdom, every revelation compels us to expand our understanding and application of the kingdom message. My personal journey can be measured by these kinds of moments. I was born again in the charismatic movement. My husband and I were part of the harvest of souls that came to Jesus right off the streets. We had some background in a religious structure, but this charismatic outpouring gave us freedom from the old dogma of tradition.

We came to know Jesus and the Holy Spirit simultaneously. The revelation of this powerful and engaging Holy Spirit was new, and His gifts were celebrated. It became our earnest desire to see the gifts of the Holy Spirit operating in our lives and in the life of the church. Where had healing, words of knowledge, prophecy, and

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