This week, I am traveling to Honduras for a mission trip. While we are there will be ministering hundreds of children, teenagers and their families. My team and I have been preparing for weeks – messages, games, bible stories, worship, etc. You name it, we have thought it through. There is just one final hurdle remaining….
I don’t speak Spanish.
I’ll need to use a translator while I am there in order to minister to the people. Without the translator there to assist me, the people I am ministering to would be lost in translation. Because while my message may be relevant, my delivery is not.
Many youth leaders face this same problem when it comes to ministering to our students. You carry a relevant message. But many times, we make the mistake of delivering our relevant message in a way that is irrelevant. It is not received because our delivery offends their culture. You see, the truth is that there is no getting around the culture of your students. You have to deal with it. You have to learn to be relevant.
Relevancy Defined: delivering timeless principles in a method that is received.
So how do I do that, you might ask? How can I be relevant? The key to relevancy is listening. In order to give your students what they need, you have to learn to listen to what they need.
Jesus was a master of relevancy. Whether it was the tax collector, the Pharisee, the demon-possessed man or the centurion, he knew how to talk to people. Did he compromise his timeless message to speak to their culture? Nope. But he was still relevant. How did he do it? He listened to people. He listened to them, and by listening to them, he determined what they needed to hear and how they needed to hear it.
To the woman at the well, he was conversational and caring. He spoke to her in love, regardless of her lifestyle. To Nicodemus, he was academic and theological, a method of delivery that appealed to the scholar in him. To the disciples, he was a mentor and a teacher. He took every opportunity to prepare them for what was to come. In every conversation, he packaged the message of God in a way that would guarantee delivery to the hearer.
Relevancy has nothing to do with chasing the latest fad. It has everything to do with being heard. It is about listening to the needs of your students and teaching them in a way that translates to where they are at right now.
Read 1 Corinthians 9:19-23.
So when you sit down to write a message to your students, ask yourself, “How can I package the message of the word of God in a way that they will hear?” It is not about the “Christianese,” or sounding like a theologian. It is about ministering to the students in a way that knocks on their hearts, and challenges them to open the door to a knowing and growing relationship with God. It is our job to make sure no one gets lost in translation.