|the next new thing... bored with being "postmod"?|
As a whole, Christian pop culture tends to be very fad oriented. We become quickly bored and move from one new thing to the next. Christian marketing will no doubt, become the next "hot" degree in our seminaries. People will attend these institutions to learn how to sell Christian programs, conferences, ideas, and (of course) product lines. We can't have a movement of the Kingdom without a t-shirt and a conference. Right?
Postmodernism was a popular issue. I think the topic is on its way out. Like the WWJD bracelets put on the discount rack to make room for "God Bless America" products and "Prayer of Jabez" promise rings, postmodernism is not en vogue any more. At one time, we could sell books on the topic. Curious people would attend a conference or two. Christian magazines would even allow the subject to grace its cover for a few months here and there. But I think, its becoming (gasp!) passé.
Instead, the subject of postmodernism will become co-opted into the general culture of "Christian ministry". The issues will be integrated into a newer, more hip trend of cutting-edge ministry stuff.
While I see this happening, a great division will occur between the popular Christian culture and those who refuse to have the issues of postmodernism co-opted into a safer, more commercially feasible ministry fad. I am one of those stubborn people.
I believe we have so much deeper to dig, so much more to discuss. I believe the Church has an opportunity to transform into something so radically different from what we've been for the past five hundred years. All the books I've read so far on "postmodern ministry," in my opinion, have been simply… introductory. I don't think the postmodern issue is a fad, I think its revolutionary. But we need to go further--much further.
Here are my observations, suggestions, biases, and concerns on what we've titled "postmodern ministry"
1. Too many in
the ministry industry are trying to make a dollar on postmodernism
However, I issue this warning: don't become too enamored with your privileged position. People listen to you, because you say weird and exciting things. Soon, you'll just become annoying to them and they will want to shut you up. Don't stop making noise. Don't become bored or complacent with what you're doing.
The Postmodern Super Friends are a group of people (mostly pastors) who came out of modern Christian culture. They recognized change and responded in a very courageous way. They began to explore postmodern theory and relating it to Christian ministry. They are not native to postmodernism, and often their role is communicating these ideas to other people within the modern culture.
These pastors and storytellers will someday pass the torch to those people who are native to postmodernism. The Natives did not experience the same modern angst the Super Friends dealt with when they realized their world was changing. The Natives grew up in it, and the ideas are not foreign to them--but as common and beautiful as the air we breathe. I'm a part of that indigenous crowd. I'm young. I'm stupid. I'm sometimes more trouble than (it seems) I'm worth. But your job is to teach me, and help me carry your dreams. We don't need seminaries. We need mentors. You are those mentors.
3. The "Saving"
People in my culture are really not concerned with notions of personal salvation. Francis Schaeffer was correct in assessing--if you're going to "save" someone, you must first convert them to the despair of his or her worldview, and then offer the anecdote. Simply put, if you were to ask someone the question about "if they died tonight," they really wouldn't care.
It's not that the notion of eternal torment under God's holy wrath sounds appealing. And of course, eternal bliss would be preferable. And it's not that postmodern culture is blind to their precarious place under the wages of sin. Most will confess their sins. But you're dealing with a different value system. They are not rugged individuals concerned with "personal" salvation. Their Gospel is a new way to see the world. Their Salvation is to have a sense of wonder restored. Can Jesus show them this?
The modern culture failed to seek the Kingdom of God. Instead, they were too busy searching for God's "wonderful plan for their life." The Kingdom message takes center-stage in a postmodern value system. Instead of Billy Graham altar calls, we should seek first the Kingdom of God. If you want to call this "conversion," fine. But it will be impossible to calculate your success and effectiveness of evangelism; instead you will meet people, form friendships, tell stories, and maintain that community. Some of you will feel like failures and die as heroes.
6. Too many websites,
not enough storytellers
We have a lot of Christian websites, not enough people telling stories and having conversations.
7. Stop reading
Augustine, start reading McLuhan
I love reading the work of the early Church Fathers. I find Church history absolutely fascinating. (And I don't use the word "fascinating" lightly!) However, they were writing to a different culture and a different time. We should value their contributions, but we need to know our culture and our time.
8. Fuller Seminary
should drop my "F" and the $500 I owe them
Ironically, a professor from Fuller is using one of my Next-Wave articles as required reading for his course this semester. That should be worth something, right?
9. Write less,
have more to say