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Are You Still Relevant?

 

I have heard it said that motivation can be generated in people by offering to meet an unmet need. This maxim is true. On a recent rafting trip with our church youth group, I fell out of our raft into a set of class 4 rapids. As the current spun me around and flipped me end over end, I quickly became motivated for air! It is only when we become aware of our unmet needs that we sense any degree of motivation. I have the same thoughts about Relevant, a new magazine published by Cameron Strang, the son of Steve Strang, founder and publisher of Charisma. It is meeting an unmeet need among twenty-somethings. Relevant is a popular, Christian magazine targeting 18-34 year-olds that have grown up in a postmodern culture. It is quickly becoming the magazine of the “Emerging Church.” Just as Christianity Today or Charisma serves the over 40 generation, Relevant has the potential to be the main periodical for twenty-somethings of both an evangelical and charismatic persuasion. The first issue was released in March 2003. It is published on a bi-monthly basis. The cover price is $3.98US/$5.98CAN.

The four word bi-line expresses the primary focus of Relevant—“God. Life. Progressive Culture.” Each issue is full of topics important to “postmodern” Christians. First and foremost, the articles circle around theological themes with articles entitled “The Greatest of These is Safety” and “Enjoying God as His Favorite.” As well as articles related to spirituality, such as “Real Hunger: How Fasting Connects the Body, the Soul and the Divine,” “The Quest for Contentment: Finding Fulfillment in a Restless Society,” and “Worship as Lifestyle: What a Relationship with God Looks Like the Other Six Days a Week.” The articles and “statements,” as shorter articles are referred to, weave together thoughts about God and church with everyday life. Issues of Relevant are also peppered with “slices,” which are short blurbs on popular culture from movie/music reviews to product reviews and trivial facts. Other articles discuss relationship issues in the lives of twenty-somethings and review Christian books and CDs.

At age 29, I am a prime member of the magazine’s target demographic and I am enthusiastic about this new publication. While I am an avid reader of Charisma, Ministries Today, and Christian History, I feel somewhat disconnected from these periodicals, like an outsider peering into to the worlds they create. I have found solace in some online communities that touch on postmodern issues from a Christian perspective such as www.theooze.com. But let’s face the facts; you can’t curl up with a laptop on the couch with a cup of coffee on a cold winter day. Relevant has filled that periodically void for my generation. The articles challenge traditional (even “contemporary”) ideas about the Christian faith. What makes it appealing is that many of the articles make new connections out of old ideas. For example, one article on fasting spoke about the ancient spiritual practice in terms that make sense in a “hamburger and fries” world. Relevant is a doorway into the world of maybe the most under-reached segment of the American population. If the Church wants to continue to be culturally relevant, this age group can no longer be ignored. Michael Slaughter, Chief Dreamer and “pastor,” of Ginghamsburg Church writes, “If we continue to copy the models of the 1980s and 1990s, we’re going to miss the next generation. I’m now learning to take my cues from the age group that’s under thirty-five.”1 I would recommend Relevant to church leaders who are looking to take cues from and understand the mind of the under thirty-five Christian thinker. More information about Relevant can be found at www.relevantmagazine.com.

Reviewed by Derek Vreeland

 

1 Michael Slaughter, Unlearning Church, (Loveland, CO: Group Publishing, 2002), 22.

 

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Category: Living the Faith, Winter 2004

About the Author: Derek Vreeland, MDiv (Oral Roberts University), DMin (Asbury Theological Seminary), is the Discipleship Pastor at Word of Life Church in St. Joseph, Missouri. He is the author of Shape Shifters: How God Changes the Human Heart: A Trinitarian Vision of Spiritual Transformation (Word & Spirit Press, 2008), Primal Credo: Your Entrance into the Apostles' Creed (Doctrina Press, 2011), and Through the Eyes of N.T. Wright: A Reader's Guide to Paul and the Faithfulness of God (Doctrina Press, 2015). http://derekvreeland.com Twitter: @DerekVreeland

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