Yesterday, I shared how even though conversion is a sovereign work of God, it is often preceded by or consists of many smaller steps. Tim Keller in his book, Center Church, describes these steps as ‘mini-decisions’. Awareness is his first category for mini-decisions – where people can see clearly what Christianity is and how it is distinct from their stereotypes of it. The second type of mini-decision are those related to Relevance. Here’s what Keller writes about these:
2) Relevance: “I need it.” They begin to see the slavery of both religion and irreligion and are shown the transforming power of how the gospel works. Examples of mini-decisions here are as follows:
“There must be some advantage to being a Christian.”
“An awful lot of very normal people really like this Church.”
“It would really help if I could believe like she does.”
“Jesus seems to be the key. I wonder who he was.” *
I hesitate to really embrace the term ‘relevant’. Often in Christian circles it means a pastor pretending to be ‘with it’ or the adoption of musical styles half a decade out of date. But the way it’s meant here is important to understand. It means that people outside the community of faith looking in on Christian life and seeing how it makes sense for regular people’s lives. For myself, I remember hearing one of my friends speak very simply about experiencing God’s forgiveness. It seemed odd to me that someone would value that so much. But as I reflected I realized that I carried around guilt for some things in my life and I decided that I could use that sort of relief. A truth of Christianity started to become attractive to my ‘real life’.
As we labour to make Christ known to people, we have to be open to letting them make many small steps toward Him. This may require us to be vulnerable and let people look into our lives. People need to be able to ‘see’ Christianity in action through our celebration of grace, our glad reception of truth, and even our worship of God. In this way, they can begin to decide that it is ‘relevant’ for them as well.
* From page 282 of Keller’s Center Church.