Postmodernism is a term that is very hard to define. Many people define it in various ways. Iwould define postmodernism as a worldview that establishes truth based on community. Truthhas been divorced from relationships, thus allowing each individual to determine truth based onthe view of a particular group or community. Postmodernism is not concerned with finding ordiscovering an absolute, unwavering truth. It focuses on defining truth based on feeling orexperience as opposed to logic or reason. I think the church has been slow at addressing thisissue. If we are really going to make a difference in the world around us, we need to understandthe effect postmodernism is having on us as believers. After studying this issue, I believeChristians and the church basically react in several ways. Below are a few:
Baptize It: I believe one of the things the church has done far too often is to take things from theworld and incorporate them into the church culture from the postmodern world and place it underthe banner of relevance. We need to realize that relevance is basically knowing the needs of thepeople in our ministries and how to meet them in a real and tangible way. Jesus did this so well.As He spoke to the crowds, He would tailor His message to meet the needs of the audience. Wemust do the same. It is okay to incorporate music, video, and other media to reach thisgeneration, but we need to influence the world not the other way around.
Demonize It: In my opinion, this is the most damaging reaction the church has had topostmodernism. I think this comes from fear and misunderstanding. As a human race, when wecome up against something that is confusing or fearful, we tend to reject or criticize it. I was at aconcert in rural Kentucky. This was a very conservative, Bluegrass culture. The event wasactually a youth event to help students understand what they believe and why. The band cameout on stage and began to play. The band was your typical youth-style rock band. Most of thekids were excited and the crowd was electric. But five minutes into the show, 75 people got upand left. They thought that music of this nature should not be played at this type of event. Weneed to teach our students how to be critical thinkers. We need to understand the culture in whichwe live and rise to meet them with the gospel message.Ignore it: I used to be this way when it came to conflict. If I had a problem with someone,instead of trying to work it out, I would ignore it. This only made things worse. Things weretaken out of context, feelings were hurt, and there was a constant tension until one of us took theinitiative to resolve the issue. I believe the same thing is happening in the church. Many adultsare fearful or confused about what is happening in youth culture. Instead of taking the time to dosome research, they just clam up and choose to ignore it. We need adults, pastors, teachers, andparents to rise up and engage this culture. We need to issue the battle cry and lead the charge toreach a generation who desperately needs us.
Critically Engage It: This is the approach that makes the most sense biblically. Jesus chose tofully engage the people of His time. He took the time to ask the tough questions. He alwaysasked the questions that would go way beyond the surface. As youth pastors, we need to knowwhat our students are involved in and ask the tough questions. For example,16 years ago, I did amessage series called “MySpace.” We took six weeks to look at the who, what, when, where,why, and how of Myspace. Myspace is a social networking website where students can set up aprofile, post media, and blogs about themselves. As I began to research this topic, I looked forour students that had a Myspace account, and I was shocked. Some of the students had revealingphotos, lied about their ages, and used profanity fluently. I emailed these students and asked tobe added to their friends list. Within one hour, I had a student at my house. He asked, “How didyou find out about Myspace?” He was embarrassed that I had found his site. He put on a veryspiritual front at church, but his site was far from it. Others were excited that I took time to entertheir world. If we critically engage the postmodern world, we will truly see change. As Christfollowers, we must lead the charge in an evangelical revolution to reach a lost generation.Will you join me on this journey? I am excited that you have chosen to buy this and criticallyengage what it means to fully live and make a lasting IMPACT not only in this generation, butfor generations to come. At the end of this journey, you will see how Transformational Livingcan set you a Trajectory of Legacy! Let the journey begin…