photo credit:  Keoni Cabral  via  photopin   cc

Enigma (part 5): Dear Method, Farewell

photo credit: Keoni Cabral via photopin cc
Before I write today's post I want to do a quick recap of what I have shared so far with regard to the challenges and opportunities the church has in light of the post-modern affair. The first thing to note is that in order to reach this generation we cannot continue to do the same things we have done for the last 50 years. To do so would be disastrous and unwise. New methods must be introduced without redefining Christian identity or tampering with the very foundations and pillars that make Christianity what it is. Secondly, along with new and radical methods we must also (and foremost) seek a new and radical connection with God through prayer and the study of his word. Third, we must not allow post-modernism to scare us and neither should we feel helpless in its presence. Post-modern culture contains many redemptive qualities and, as history has proven, they are willing to forsake their philosophy if they discover a truth worth dying for. But how exactly do we help them see that that truth is Jesus?

I know that's what everyone has been dying to read about but I wont be going there just yet. Enigma (the current blog series) is not intended to go into "how to's". This series is merely setting the philosophical foundation for the next blog series I will be co-authoring with friend and "post-modern outreach guy" Nat Tan (sorry Nat, I couldn't think of a better title). That series will be titled Bricolage?[1] and will deal more with the how to's. But for now allow me to propose two more concepts that I find absolutely necessary as we embark on the search for the "how to's." The first deals with what blueprint or method would be most effective in reaching post moderns (today's post) and the next one will deal with the post-modern challenge and eschatology (next post).

So what method is best for reaching post moderns? How do we, as I mentioned in yesterdays post, help them see that Jesus is the absolute truth and scripture the metanarrative that is worth suffering for? Before I answer that question allow me to present the post-modern culture to you once more. In the post-modern culture there can be seen a break down of walls and distinctions that separate and alienate cultures, ethnicities, religions, and worldviews. Due to the influence of relativism post-moderns do not feel threatened by differing points of view. As a result post-moderns are very accepting of a multi-cultural society and are open to all sorts of "new" and "different" expressions of faith, art, culture etc. Thus in his paper, "Street Art as an Expression of Post-Modern Consciousness"[2] Christopher M. Suzuki could write, In this respect it [street art] is truly an expression of post-modern consciousness, drawing from all eras and all worlds without regard to traditional boundaries of discipline or taste." Suzuki then goes on to hit the nail on the head when he says, "Part of what defines Post-Modern thinking and art is the belief that all boundaries are constructions and not absolute realities. In reaction to this truth much of post-modern art is a mismatch of different styles, mediums, and disciplines."

Due to this eclectic worldview it is apparent that post-moderns are extremely diverse, random, and undefinable as a culture. While there are foundational values that all post-moderns share the reality is that there is no structure, style, or absolute framework by which one can define or even comprehend this culture. With this in mind I will now return to the question: "What method is best for reaching post moderns? How do we help them see that Jesus is the absolute truth and scripture the metanarrative that is worth suffering for?" And the answer is straight forward: there is no method. There is no blueprint. To take it further, not only is there no method; there can not even be a method. Pre-moderns were reached by a mass evangelism method that worked wonderfully. Moderns were reached by apologetics and reasonable arguments that helped them see the truth behind the faith of Jesus. But in order to reach a post-modern the church can no longer rely on a "blueprint" or a "method". Instead, we must take the foundational values that post-moderns share (authenticity, community, tolerance etc) and allow the Holy Spirit to reveal to us the best way to reach the particular post-modern community closest to us. However, because no post-modern community is the same that one method cannot be successfully used with post-moderns all over the globe. The only solution then is for Christians to do what they are most afraid to do - leave the comfort of their homes and churches and connect in an intimate way with their community all the while seeking to discover the most Biblical way to reach that particular group. Gone are the days when we could just send out flyers and expect a huge gathering. Gone are the days were we could pay some evangelist to fly out and sit on our pews while he and the elders did all the work. That may have worked in the past but it can no longer work. The only way to reach post-moderns is to become acquainted with the culture in our immediate vicinity and ask God for wisdom on how best to connect with them. No blueprint is coming. No method will arise that will give us worldwide success if it is followed faithfully. Each church needs to discover its own method and its own way of reaching the post-moderns within their reach and this can only be accomplished by leaving our comfort zones and connecting authentically and intimately with this generation.

However, this doesn't mean that there are things that wont work and things that will. There most certainly are principles that we can follow that will work on a global scale, but the point is that there is no one blueprint that will work everywhere. Each city, town, and nation needs to connect with its own culture, speak Christ in their language, and reach them in their own unique way. 

The next post will deal with post-modernism, the book of Revelation and how what it says can influence our outreach and evangelism attempts. This post will bring Enigma to a close. We will then dive into more practical concepts in the series Bricolage?

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[1] In Post-modernism: A processes by which traditional objects or language are given a new, often subversive, meaning and context. [http://www.onpostmodernism.com/terms/#Bricolage]
[2] http://www.cejournal.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/StreetArt.pdf 

2 comments:

  1. Connecting with the culture outside the church in the community has always been true. Even Jesus connected with the people where they were. He was accused of being a partier by the church officials remember. This is Christ's method and we should follow it.

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    1. Great point Anonymous! You will notice if you keep reading my posts that while I am advocating for "new ways" of reaching the culture, the reality is that the "new ways" are simply a rediscovery of the way of Christ. In that sense they are not "new ways" but "ancient ways". What I do not think will work however is the gimmicks that people have been using for the past decades in attempting to draw the culture to the church. This is what I mean by "method" or "blueprint". Everyone seems to be eager to find another "method" to reach post-moderns but what we really need is the method of Christ which is timeless. Anyways, great thoughts!

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