Our church has rallied around three core values and we reference and talk about them regularly. They are Service, Acceptance and Power... Serving People, Accepting them wherever they are on their journey and expecting and experiencing the Power of God. As I prepared to teach a couple of weeks ago I was struck but the significance of that last value... Power.
Serving people and accepting people are not the private domain of the church... there are many great organizations that do an excellent job of serving people and meeting needs. There are many groups who are extremely accepting and love people and receive them with little or no judgment or motive. These things are not inherently 'Christian'.
But Power... the Supernatural Power of God is different. There is nowhere else that it can be found. The church is the primary dispenser of the power of God. Jesus said that we would do the works He himself did and even greater works (Jn 14:12). What He was doing when He said that was commissioning us to be His body. Not just figuratively or allegorically... but I think literally. As Jesus was here to reflect His Father I think Jesus commissioned us to reflect Himself. And it's a hands-on assignment... go be powerful in Him!
As a church planter I have read many things on making the church relevant to its culture. I believe in that philosophy... I really do... but 'exegeting culture' and strategic planning can quickly become a substitute for simply doing the stuff Jesus did.
A church that is reflecting Jesus in words and works, doing and saying what Jesus did and said, is going to be relevant in any and every culture.
I linked to a post earlier this week by Tullian Tchividjian that talked about the "exegesis of culture." I agree with what Tullian said, but also agree with what Duke said above. Good preaching, and ministry in general, does require an understanding of the culture in which we are communicating. But all that understanding is practically useless if not accompanied by the power of the Spirit - and demonstrations of that power.