Tuesday, June 23, 2009
Relevant Worship is not about being hip, or funny or famous.
Which is not to say the 8-person group is without those traits. Singer Chris Lucas' hair can be seen two city blocks away, so he's sort of hard to forget. His brother and fellow frontman, Anthony Hoisington, is plotting a gig on Mars. Guitarist Matt Poulsen will tell you he looks cool in his wedding photos.
It's just that, if Relevant Worship was in the music business simply to be on posters and lunchboxes, the band would probably be called "Relevant Rock" or something really clever like "Jesus Jams".
But it's not in it for those reasons.
The band is called Relevant Worship and, all kidding aside, each member is fully committed to Jesus' command in Matthew: Go. Preach. Teach.
"Our goal is to be a voice and see revival come to our communities and churches," Poulsen says.
With musical skills that"d make a Baptist blush, and having shared stages with the likes of Rebecca St. James, DecembeRadio and Matt Maher, Relevant Worship could write its own ticket to fame and fortune. The band - an amalgamation of Adelaide, Elektromat, This Day and Age and the Priors - could relocate south and make a nice living. But changing the world starts at home. In this case, that means snowy Buffalo, where the band has performed 80 times this year.
"We care about Buffalo because this is where God has planted us," Poulsen says. "To us, it's very important to reach your home. Most people want to go away to the 'sexy' places like Nashville or L.A. to pursue stardom. Or sometimes people feel they need to leave home to be in ministry. But God has placed a burden in our hearts for this area and we want to see revival here.
"There are thousands of people right in our back yard who need to hear the Gospel and experience the power of the Holy Spirit."
Relevant Worship's mission, then, is "To see the spiritual climate and economy of Buffalo and Western New York changed," Lucas says.
So how exactly does the band go, preach and teach, and create positive change?
For starters, Relevant Worship conducts prayer walks each Friday in Buffalo's downtown "party district." The band takes time to pray with both the homeless and the shameless. Moreover, the group embarks upon regular city outreach and community service endeavors, many of which end up in pizza parlors with the band sharing the Gospel - and a slice - with perfect strangers.
"Relevant's vision is that the Spirit of God and revival would take over the church; that we would carry Jesus' message of life, hope and forgiveness to a city that has been told for years that it is dead, hopeless and forgotten," Poulsen says. "We want to love the community through prayer and service - bless the church and unite the body of Christ in worship. It's breaking every denominational line (Relevant's members each come from different churches). It's spurring one another on. Lifting up the name of Christ inside the church, as well as in the streets. Rallying the church to action. Loving one another and also loving the 'unlovely.' "
Just as the disciples in the Gospel of Luke were amazed at the results of obeying Jesus, Relevant Worship has seen its share of amazing feats. Not the least of the band's accomplishments is successfully spreading the Word of God through music at Western New York's largest and most famous "secular" venues.
"It means God is on the move in this area," Lucas says of the gigs.
These clubs have become a central location "where the churches are meeting in the city from all sides of the suburbs to pray for unity and to worship the Lord, the only true source that can cause a cold city to find the love of God," he says.
If God can use the foolish to confound the wise, who's to say He can't use Buffalo to birth revival?
"Many people believe Buffalo is dead or dying, but we refuse to accept that," Poulsen says. "We believe that God has not abandoned this area, and is waiting to renew the church and the community."
Praising God before all else, above all else, and in spite of all else - that's Relevant Worship.
"Success isn't measured by labels or money - especially when it comes to worship," Lucas says. "It should be birthed out of what God is doing in you and around you - not because a label says to record a worship CD. It's not really worship then."
Poulsen sums Relevant Worship up by saying, "To me, it means that people aren't content to be passive about their faith anymore, but are willing to go into the world, into the 'unsavory places,' to bring the light of Christ and to see Him move."