Postmodern Ministry Takes Us Back to The Bible
David Posthuma @ Jun 3, 2005 02:33 PM
If you ask most church leaders what trait most typifies the Echo-Boomer generation (ages 15 – 33), the likely response will be that the current generation does not believe in absolute truth…that the young adult decides for themselves what is true. Repeatedly, I have heard church leaders regale against the current relativistic generation because they tend to perceive such young adults as de-valuing Scripture. I believe this perception is inaccurate.
It is very true that today’s young adult wants to judge for themselves what is true…and this includes the process of knowing God. The Echo-Boomer has no love for the know-it-all pastor who tells the congregation what to believe and how to live. At the same time, the Echo-Boomer displays little long-term appreciation for topical talks we label as “Seeker Services”. They know intrinsically that God is much more complex than these feather-weight talks convey. The Echo-Boomer, above all things seeks authenticity. They are marketing savvy. They can smell a packaged presentation a mile away…they have trained themselves to disbelieve any thing that does not display true authenticity.
A Severe Impact Upon Church Services
The impact such cultural distinctives will have upon our worship services are severe. The presentational and programmed model of ministry that has been so prevalent over the last 35 years is now finding waning support among young adults…particularly those who have not been raised within a Christ-centered faith community. As one young adult communicated to me some time ago: “It doesn’t take a real Christian to put on a Christian show”. And, from the perception of many Echo-Boomers, that is what many of our churches have become…merely a show, a performance, filled with a live band, drama, multimedia, lighting and entertaining talks.
If It Was Good Enough for Us, then….
Ministry leaders make a fundamental error in believing that the model that was good enough for the Boomers must be good enough for the Echo-Boomers. The labels themselves should help us understand that the two cultures are very distinct from one another. An “Echo” occurs when sound bounces off from another object. In the case of the Echo-Boomer, there are many facets of the Boomer’s values that the Echo-Boomer reacts against (i.e., bounces off from). Below are but a few documented traits:
Postmodern Ministry has Raised Discipleship from the Dead
Today’s generation is starving for God. They want to know God intimately. In April of 2004, the Pew Internet and American Life study demonstrated that the #1 search category on the internet was “Spirituality and Religion”. In fact, 65% of online Americans have used the internet for spiritual research purposes. Today’s generation seeks God, but they highly distrust packaged religion. If your ministry seeks to “package” God and the Christian life in every Sunday service, the young adult will avoid your ministry. But if your ministry can adopt an attitude and atmosphere that communicates “we are all learning together”, and are able to facilitate Biblical learning…by allowing the Bible to speak for itself…then the young adult will have open ears and open hearts.
Facilitation also implies personal participation. To facilitate Biblical training and application requires that our services become much more interactive. A common methodology utilized is in-service journaling. Through the use of journaling, while providing moments of quiet introspection, prayer and reflection throughout the learning process, the participant has an opportunity interact authentically with God. The old preaching paradigm told people how to live and expected them to apply the teaching once they exited the church doors. The postmodern preaching paradigm enables the individual to spiritually participate in the immediacy of the moment.
An excellent example of a postmodern "Biblical Facilitation" ministry is Mars Hill of West Michigan. Much has been written about this 10,000 attendee ministry and its bleached blond, barefoot pastor, Rob Bell. But if you were to visit this church, you would be taken back by how basic and raw everything is. The atmosphere is warehouse like. The band plays on the floor and there is no visible worship leader. There is no drama, no staging and no special lighting effects. The heart of Mars Hill is Biblical facilitation. Rob Bell will open the Bible and guide the participants through lengthy passages of Scripture. He permits Scripture to speak to Scripture. Rob is also an excellent facilitator. He consistently utilizes journaling and participatory dynamics to enable the individual to meet with God in the moment.
Below I present an MP3 of a teaching by Rob Bell. I present this teaching for one purpose alone…to illustrate how radically different postmodern Biblical facilitation is from the Seeker-Sensitive Topical Talk model so prevalent within our churches today. I encourage you to listen quietly and reflectively to the entire teaching. Do what Rob asks you to do. And when the teaching is concluded, consider for yourself whether you feel as if you not only learned about God, but more importantly, met with God. I believe that if our pastor's can re-educate themselves to utilize Biblical facilitation, they will find that both young and old, as well as seeker and leader, will highly value and appreciate the methodology. Additional teachings can be found on the Mars Hill website.
Add Your Comment