In a recent interview in the PreachingToday newsletter, Don Sunukjian observes, “Relevance is when the listener realizes, ‘I see how this message applies to me.’ See is the operative word. The listener thinks, ‘I have a mental picture of where this fits in my life. I see the guy next to me at work. He comes in, sits down in that seat, puts his brown bag in the third drawer on the left side, turns to me, and complains. I see it.’ Relevancy is when the listener can say, ‘I see where God is speaking His truth and where it fits my life.’ It’s not that the listener can see it in somebody else’s life, or in Czechoslovakia, or in Victorian England, or in sports metaphors.

“I, as the listener, have to see it in the specifics of my life—otherwise it stays at a level of generality, abstraction, pious cliche. We nod and say, ‘Uh-huh, uh-huh,’ but we have no idea how it shows up in our lives.

“Without relevance, it’s just knowledge. It’s information. But the Bible passes judgment on an information- and knowledge-based ministry. In 1 Corinthians 8:1, the apostle Paul says that knowledge puffs up, but love edifies.

“The goal of our preaching is not knowledge. The goal of our preaching is not Bible instruction. The goal of our preaching is to teach people how the Bible fits their lives. Knowledge is only halfway to our goal. If we stop at the halfway point, we produce an arrogant, proud people who have Bible knowledge but who have not yet become Christlike. Knowledge alone does not change us.”

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