by Rev. Mark Mofield
So I heard a story the other day about a Christian search engine called Seekfind.org.
(OK, I’ll stop right here to explain that a “search engine” is what you use to find information on the Internet. If you have heard of Google or seen ads for Bing or Yahoo, these are search engines. Yes, I am a geek.)
Anyway, there is this search engine called Seekfind.org. It helps you find information on the Internet, but it limits its searches to those websites that, by its own definition, advocate and support a Christian worldview. The story said that if you did a search for “Democratic Party," the first result to pop up was a web page about socialism. (When I tried, it was actually the second result). When I checked it out, I thought I would try some other searches. I did a search for “Duke Blue Devils” and got a whole bunch of results, only 2 of which had anything to do with sports at Duke University, and both of which were articles about the Duke Lacrosse scandal from a couple of years ago. Then I did a search for “bologna sandwich” (I was still a little hungry after lunch). The first result was a website about a children’s game and the second result – and I am not making this up – was a web page about witnessing to atheists.
I never knew how short a jump it was from my favorite lunch meat to evangelizing the world. I thought I needed to be more specific, so I typed in “making a bologna sandwich”. The first result was a web page about the accounts of the trial of Jesus in the gospels and the second result was an article entitled, “Is God Making a Difference in Hollywood?”
Seekfind.org states that its purpose is to “provide God-honoring, biblically based, and theologically sound Christian search engine results in a highly accurate and well-organized format.” It seems to me, though, that in their desire to proclaim sound Biblical truth they are overlooking that there are people who might be looking to put together a really good sandwich. The search engine is providing answers to questions not being asked and not answering the questions that are asked. While the purpose is good, the result is frustrating and ultimately unfulfilling because you have to ask the questions the search engine wants you to ask.
I wonder if this is why people sometimes tear down the church for being “irrelevant.” I wonder if we as Christians sometimes grow too quiet because we wait for somebody to say just the right word to let us know we can talk about faith. Or sometimes we think evangelism has to mean taking every conversation and ending it with “Let me share with you God’s plan for your life.” Relevance doesn’t have to mean accommodating the gospel to the world. I think relevance can mean simply being willing to answer the questions that are asked, being willing to listen and to speak. Sometimes someone may ask us how to make a bologna sandwich. So we tell them how to make a bologna sandwich. If our desire to serve and relate to others is authentic, those questions can establish a foundation of trust for other, more spiritually profound questions.
“God is calling us to be a church that is compassionate, serving, and accepting. God is calling us to minister in ways that are honest, loving, respectful, and faithful.” These values demand that we be relevant, that we listen to what is being asked of us by God and by our community, and that we answer in the love and grace of Christ so that Christ might ultimately be glorified.
Mark Mofield is the pastor of First Baptist Church of Elon, NC. This article originally appeared in their church newsletter, "The Courier."