Relevant—Appropriate to the current time, period, or circumstances; of contemporary interest
Current—Belonging to the present time; happening or being used or done now
I think most of us would find the above definitions of these words to be satisfactory. In the context of the church, we are often concerned with both the matter of being current and relevant. The degree to which and the ways in which to achieve currentness may differ from congregation to congregation, but every congregation, to some degree, wishes to be current. It’s what drives members to arrive in automobiles, to paint and remodel the building, to use powerpoint for lessons and songs, have wifi access, a (hopefully) updated website, and the like. So long as the tool, idea, or method for being current is in harmony with Scripture, including proper stewardship as well as adhering to God’s pattern and authority, we should be as forward thinking as possible.
Relevance is, perhaps, a more subjective matter. With the maturing of each succeeding generation, we tend to obsess about whether or not our planning, actions, communication, and the like are sufficiently relevant to each generation. In other words, we might ask, “Are we relevant to millennials?” or “Will this resonate with iGens?” There are tools, ideas, and methods we should use to be “appropriate to the current time, period, or circumstances.” But, may we not lose sight of the fact that Scripture could not be more relevant, and it is never more relevant than when it is countercultural. The world’s ideas for how we should dress, talk, think, act, or respond to God may be the very definition of what’s current, but such is not relevant to God’s objective right and wrong on those specific matters. What we teach may be relevant to those areas of concern, but may seem old-fashioned or not what is being used or done now by the majority.
We must emphasize that in our current circumstances, God’s Word, with its precepts and principles, is what is relevant! It’s what the world needs, and it’s what we each need. The church, so long as it boldly, lovingly declares those things, is the very essence of relevant. Let’s just let God’s Word and not the world define that for us.