Postmodernism- “WHERE ANYTHING GOES”
Evangelizing in Today”s Post Modern Culture
A Must Read for the Street Evangelist
From my perspective Post Modernity seems to be the most self-centered, self-indulgent, defiant way of thinking to date. With a world view so resistant to truth it is no wonder that our societies are crumbling down around us. From political perspectives to spiritual practices this way of looking at life seems to be the unraveling of our moral fabric around the globe. Extremists are given license, abominations are being applauded and the unborn are being murdered all in the name of tolerance.
When I was a child some of my favorite lines were “Don’t tell me what to do!” and “Let me decide what is right and what is wrong!” The key word is child. I resisted instruction on morality and pushed boundaries. Making my own choices on issues that seemed settled to others was my right as a young adult. A lifestyle of promiscuity, drugs and alcohol was what I considered to be “My Truth”. I even convinced myself to believe that the majority lived and believed just as I did. Even as a young father and husband this worldview of my own creation was ever present and influenced my every decision. If I wanted to participate in activities that the established governing bodies deemed wrong I would and would not let my conscience hinder me. Nor did a law or truth ever stop me, until April 5, 1997 when my actions placed me securely and squarely in the Georgia State Penitentiary facing the mountain of a ten year sentence.
I am not going to get on my soap box and blast the Post Modern way of Life. I will however, launch this assessment from the springboard of Biblical Text. “Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child. But the rod will drive it far from him” (Proverbs 22:15) For it is my assessment that this worldview will lead many straight to hell if the underpinnings of society are continued to be trampled upon as they are in this current era.
As ministers of the gospel and ambassadors for Christ it is our mission to reconcile the lost and to bring “every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.”( 2 Corinthians 10:5 )How we are to do this remains in the experimentation phase. Without getting the cart before the horse, I must begin by stating that none of this can be done apart from the supply of the Spirit of God, through Faith in Christ Jesus. I believe our first ministry to the Post Modern World is PRAYER, prayer for guidance and wisdom. Jesus told us to be cunning as serpents and harmless as doves. With the current subject before us, the barriers are unbridgeable without The Reconciler to lead us. Next we must pray for the fields of Post Modern Harvest that God will prepare the soil in the hearts of those we are trying to reach. In my life it was tragedy and devastation that tilled up the fallow grounds. In others it can and will be different. But the thought that I am attempting to convey is that Post Moderns must be prepared or conditioned to receive the life giving truths we are compelled to covey.
It is not my intention what so ever to be dogmatic in pattern or program. I will simply relay what God has pressed upon me in light of the research I’ve done on the subject.
The key seems to be found in relationships. As Christians our relationship to Christ must be our central consuming focus. When we are in right relationship with Christ our light shines and we begin to flavor the world with the supernatural worldview that Christ is the center of all that exists, now and forever. It is my opinion, that we must genuinely display our love for Christ and His work in our lives everywhere we go, which will stir up an interest in what is going on in us. The old methods of confronting the lost with absolute truths are out dated. It is the Christian example that wins the day. I believe our character opens that dialogue into the spiritual side of life. When we allow such an opening, the walls of resistance turn into sincere desire to hear reason for hope that is within us. With this opinion in mind it would serve me well to stop here and iterate that this type of opening doesn’t always avail itself on the first encounter. We must sacrifice time to establish caring relationships with Post Modern individuals. There is no set time on the doors to the heart. Some will be more resistant than others. But time and consistent Christian character will appeal often even to the most resistant.
Once we have garnered the interest of the Post Modern individual, we can relay truth based on our experiences with Jesus Christ. Relaying to them how Christ has moved in our lives to bring about wholeness and peace. All the while carefully leading to the impression that this supernatural working that has had success in our life is available to them as well. Here is where the cunning as a serpent part of Jesus’ statement comes in. In our Evangelistic mindset this would traditionally be the point where we push to close the deal and send them to stir the waters. However, we must resist the urge to push at this point. A good alternative could be to ask the Post Modern if they have a need that we could ask Christ to address in their life. Or maybe even convey to them our “Life Verse” and explain why it means so much to us. This would give them food for thought. We should let them know Jesus loves them and is willing to affect their lives in a positive manner as well.
According to the material I gather that the Post Modern is suspicious in nature and will be somewhat reluctant to jump right in. Especially since their friends and social circles will typically be their biggest influence. We have a great responsibility to reveal to them that there is a community of people who, like us are experiencing God in a real and personal way. Church affiliations and denominations must take a backseat to Christ and His work in us. If the Post Modern shows an interest in further investigation into our world, we then are able to offer discipleship of sorts. Maybe we can present a scripture like Matthew 11:28 on a piece of paper, just something to reflect on and take with them on their way.
The next step is getting the Post Modern into cell groups, where we can deliver the gospel message by practical experiences had by the individuals of the group. We must be honest and open, being ever mindful that it is not all about us. Inclusiveness is the door into
the Post Modern world. They must feel welcomed as well as feel like they can identify with the members of the group. There is a tendency of the modern thinker to exalt himself as having all the keys, this must be resisted and give place to revealing our continued need for God’s work to improve our existence. If we can make the Post Modern feel:1) that the playing field is level,2) that we all are in pursuit of spiritual fulfillment,3) as Christians openly worship Christ and praise Him for the grace he has bestowed upon us, then it will be easier for the Post Modern to feel a sense of belonging. Furthermore the Post Modern will most likely sense the Spiritual Presence of God in our midst. Hopefully at this stage the Holy Ghost will stir a sense of worship in their hearts as well or at least reveal to them that God is not very far from them as not to be attainable.
Such inclusiveness and fellowship should offer the Post Modern a comfort and sense of acceptance that hopefully will give way to belonging. Once belonging is established perimeters of doctrine can be laid down only to keep them safely inside the faith of Christ Jesus. Rigid structure must be avoided at all cost, for the Post Modern will resent the feelings of being “duped” or “tricked” into being a Christian. Softly and tenderly we can use things like the parables of Jesus and practical examples of truth in our modern times to gently mold the worldview of the Post Modern.
Finally when the Post Modern has found their comfort in this new little community we can invite them to a corporate gathering of believers for worship. Here the elements of a large group must “feel” like those of the smaller group, just on a grander scale. We must be welcoming and open to the guest, giving them a continued sense of belonging all the while keeping the focus on worship. We do not want the first time in corporate worship to make them feel insignificant or lost in the crowd. We also do not want to isolate them with practices and examples that do not appeal or are foreign to the Post Modern culture. We must however be distinct in the fact that WE ARE DIFFERENT, different because we have found hope and salvation in Jesus Christ. But we are not to give off the impression that we are alien to their culture and opposed to all that is not “US”.
In conclusion, the Post Modern Era presents many challenges to Evangelists worldwide. It is tough to bridge the span between our worldviews, but I believe that with the supply of the Spirit of God and the careful investing of our lives into our communities we can find common ground on which we can stand to proclaim the life changing Gospel of Christ!