Let me just preface this by saying I really have a lot of admiration for Dever, especiall his classic Nine Marks of a Healthy Church. He’s been a captivating pastor and theologian in many ways to for me, especially in my college years, but on this one I’d have to say “sorry Mark, but the setup doesn’t set us up well as witnesses for Jesus.”

Here’s the quotes from his piece posted at 9Marks Ministry blog.

“I would like to suggest that the most fundamental problem in the church is not that we are not relevant enough in relation to the world, but that the church is not distinct enough from the world. Our churches must reflect the character of God,” said Dever.

“Church leaders should channel their energy toward maintaining purity in the church instead of spending great amounts of time and ministry on relating to the culture,” Dever said.

“The problem with the seeker-sensitive model, emerging church model and even the traditional model that say, ‘Get as many people into a room as possible and share the Gospel with them,’ is that they view success in light of visible fruit,” he said. “All three of these approaches say, ‘Change your techniques and let’s get some numbers.’

“Instead of being directed by [visible] success, we should be directed by faithfulness. We should say, ‘If the Lord doesn’t like our product, we will change the product.’ We shouldn’t take the idea that if we don’t have X number of conversions in our church, then we must be doing something wrong. I am glad Jeremiah didn’t think that. And I am glad that Jesus Christ didn’t think that. Let us remember that we are following the One who was crucified as a revolutionary.”

Cultural relevancy isn’t a distraction from the gospel, its an expression of its original incarnational form. The Gospel was anything but unrelevant, and the people its produced are anything but undistinct. Its BOTH AND, not either or. Just as saying relevancy comes first before being distinct can produce faulty disciples living for affirmation rather than by His revelation, so to does saying distinctness comes before relevancy can produce harden, culturally illiterate enclave churches and Christian leaders.

(Photographic art by Krazze, the piece is called “La nuova Mela”)