ChurchETHOS

Speaking of Postmodernism

Posted in uncategorized by Nathan Creitz on October 8, 2005

I want to take a second and give a few of my impressions on reaching out to a postmodern culture. Since postmodernism is a worldview and not a generational thing, it is possible for an older person to have a postmodern worldview and for a young person to have a modern perspective. Keeping that in mind, we don’t have to throw out all modernistic approaches. There are still millions of people that have a modernistic worldview that need Jesus. The Church needs to once again be a shaper of culture, not just a responder to culture. We have to understand the worldviews of others so that we may know how to respond to each one of them.

Anyway, the first thing I would say about being relevant in a postmodern culture is to not try to be relevant to this culture. Be like Christ. Some will hate that, some will genuinely be drawn to that. We make much of Paul’s “I have become all things…” and make less of “deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow Me.” When it comes to the fitting in, we love to do what we can to make sure no one sees how different we really are. Some would say that to be postmodern, you need to be a pipe-smoking, poetry-loving, coffee-drinking free spirit who believes what he wants. Well, I never said I wanted to be postmodern, I want to bring Jesus to those who are postmodern. I don’t smoke a pipe because my body is a temple of God and I’m not ashamed to say it. When it comes to the self-denial and cross-taking and Christ-following, most emergent church leaders draw back in our fervor because if we really did that, we wouldn’t be “relevant” we wouldn’t be “all things to all people” now would we. If you ask me, many who call themselves emergent have a wrong idea of relevance and misunderstand Paul’s meaning of becoming all things to all men. Maybe they even have a misunderstanding of what the emerging church should be about.

Once you can safely say you are trying to live a sold-out life for Christ, you can move on to other things to reach out to our current culture, like telling your story. Those with a postmodern worldview thrive on metaphors and stories. They are experiential. Don’t just tell it to them, describe it for them. Let them know your experience with Christ. Use a situation that is familiar to them to tell the story of Christ. The PM worldview responds to things like the narratives and the parables that we find in the Bible. Jesus told stories using common elements. Do that.

Another thing you can do is invest relationally. Use every opportunity to sacrifice for someone so that you can build a relationship. There are a couple of people I have been investing in for more than a year now in Boston and we are just now getting to the point where we can talk about spirituality. You won’t start out with a PM with them trusting you. You earn their trust over time.

Those are just a couple of quick things that I’ve discovered, not because it was in some book, but because it is what we are told to do in Scripture. Too often, the emergent church is just a rebellion against all things traditional and structured. Most emerging church leaders had a bad experience with church and so they are starting their own. Rebellion against the status quo shouldn’t be our motivation for starting a church. Doing things differently for the sake of difference and change never helped anyone. The emerging church should be one that desires to follow the teachings of God’s Word and the leading of the Holy Spirit. That’s all any church should ever be. We aren’t going to reach PM’s with anything new if it’s new just for the sake of being new. We are going to reach PM’s because of our passionate pursuit of God, our authentic relationships with our church fellowship, and our energetic desire to reach the world for Christ. Loving God and loving people. As much as the emerging church would say things have changed, there’s not much different about loving God and loving people.

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3 Responses

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  1. adam said, on October 9, 2005 at 11.55 pm

    hey man,

    reading the last few posts, i’ve felt like i was reading posts from my church here in texas. our church is built upon relational evangelism and authentic relationships in lifegroups (small groups) and have been the same since the beginning.

    i go to a church that started about 6 years ago and has grown almost 100% or more every year. actually, the first year, i grew much more than that and the basis is relationships. our pastor stresses this and does not waiver on his vision of having a church of disciples and not members. and God blesses the efforts. our church started in a house with 8 people and a vision. jennifer and i started going here b/c we knew the pastor from p’cola and the church was still in a house with like 45 or so people after about 4 months of being in existence. since then, the church has grown not through programs but through people reaching out to people. people started bringing lost family and friends and they would get saved and involved. they would bring others who would get saved and involved. then others who had been out of church for several years thought they’d give it a try and they got plugged in. now, after 6 years, we have 3 services every sunday with over 300 people a sunday!! and with no major programs. our services are basically the same every week…singing and preaching. our youth group doesn’t do these huge concerts and program-based ministry….our entire church is based on getting connected through small groups and bringing in the lost to make them into disciples. also, our pastor steps on toes every single sunday without apology and preaches purely exegetically without any postmodern messages that are politically correct. as a matter of fact, he was invited to be a member of a local group for ministers and refused to pray with the others at the first meeting because they were from other faiths. he does not pull any punches yet our numbers have increased.

    i know this is a huge comment and actually a post in and of itself but i just wanted to encourage you to continue to base the vision of the gate on scripture and relationships because God blesses those efforts. by the way, if you want to check out our website, it’s http://www.121cc.com.

    adam

  2. Mathias said, on October 13, 2005 at 3.39 pm

    Halleluja. That is all I want to say. Praise be to God. I have read quite a lot on emerging church, but I have had this gut feeling about it, without being able to articulate it. I love the concept or idea of emerging, but I hate the trend of starting new for the sake of being new. And I don’t support starting new churches that are born out of frustration and misundertanding. I don’t believe that is God’s will.

    Well, I hope you don’t mind me trackbacking this post from my blog. I wanna share this onward, because these words are the ones I was searching for 😀

    God bless you so much!

  3. nathan said, on October 13, 2005 at 5.58 pm

    On the other hand, that same frustration with the status quo and with the lack of energy and power of the churches I was a part of before, is what led me to begin praying and thinking more about God’s will for my life. We can use the struggle, we just can’t let our churches become a movement about what we hate about the church. Instead, they need to be what we love about God.


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