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April 29, 2010

Pint and a Pipe Thursdays: Post-Modernity

   Over at Matt Coulter's blog you'll find a series called Pint and a Pipe Thursdays.  Matt posts a question and gives you a week to reflect and think on it, then you come back and link your response to the question back to the post.  Maybe you are inspired with a post yourself, a poem or even a song...I just encourage to be thinking and talking with other believers and get involved in the conversation.  This weeks question is How should the Church (corporately and as individuals) respond to the culture shift from modernity to post-modernity?  Here are my thoughts.


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   I went to a concert last night in Cheyenne, WY and the opening band was Another Dream (who incidentally performed their final show last night).  The lead singer for that band is my good friend Peter Blomberg.  He was talking to the audience about the dreams he had for the band over the years and something he said stuck with me in context to the shift from modernity to post-modernity.  He said that he always pictured his band travelling the country and playing shows to youth and college kids and telling them about Jesus and life with Him.  But that people don't need to hear that anymore.  They don't need to hear it because they need to see it. 

   Those words struck a chord with me because it feels like in this whole debate over modernity and post-modernity, it still comes down to a tell me verses show me attitude.  My friends who don't like the shift are still in a mindset that if they tell people the right way, that they will be drawn to Jesus.  Experience in the past eight years says that I can tell them, but if I am not also showing them, I probably won't see much fruit from the effort. 

   As individuals, I think Christians (myself absolutely included) needs to be better about living out our faith.  We need to be cautious about speaking out of both sides of our mouths.  Our words need to be in line with the teachings of Jesus, but our actions say a lot more about our character (and reflect inherently on the character of Jesus to others) than our words alone. 

   In the Church, there appears to be this fear of losing control.  Traditional church people feel more comfortable with a top down approach to Christianity where the leader is supposed to take care of everything and the people of the church are there to support the pastor as needs trickle down.  In the post-modern era, I think the church needs to learn to let go of some of the control.  There are amazing gifts that God has given the people sitting in the chairs that are going to waste because the church fails to challenge or encourage the people to utilize them.  Church needs to be approached in a much more horizontal fashion where people are leading and encouraging each other.  We need to be meeting each other's needs, but in turn, taking that to the streets.  It is when our faith meets the road that our faith becomes real and people's lives are impacted.  I'm still not 100% as to what that looks like for me - I'm still struggling to find a current church home.  I know I want live my faith out and not just hear sermons...I want my kids to experience their faith and not just be taught the stories.  Ultimately, I believe the Church will continue to decline in importance until these lessons are learned and we're open to changing how we "do" church.

8 comments:

Whitney said...

Jon, I would agree that many churches are stuck in a rut that ignore what is going on around them. Obviously this exclusion has hurt churches and fostered a negative cultural opinion about church. However, perhaps just as much as some churches might have a "control" problem because of the way they do things, don't you think that post-modernists placing an ultimatum on the Church to radically change who they are to accomodate post-modernism is controlling too? Why does church have to be one way or the other? I believe that the Lord has blessing and honor reserved for both post-modernist and traditional churches today alike. As long as people are entering into a relationship with Jesus and being challenged in their walk, what difference does it make? Again, we can't be completely ignorant about culture, but I also don't think that traditional churches are evil empires of control either.

Matt Coulter said...

I loved these quotes: "They don't need to hear it because they need to see it" and "In the Church, there appears to be this fear of losing control. Traditional church people feel more comfortable with a top down approach to Christianity where the leader is supposed to take care of everything and the people of the church are there to support the pastor as needs trickle down. In the post-modern era, I think the church needs to learn to let go of some of the control."

I'm not 100% sure of what all this looks like for me, either - luckily we get to dialogue it and hopefully try some stuff together to hone this in our lives.

Let's do another neighborhood BBQ this spring (once spring finally gets here) as a starting step!

Jon Kelly said...

I think post-moderns recognize that the Church is bleeding and in major decline - particularly in the US. Churches have always had to adapt to culture in some ways, but the more slowly that happens, the more decline we'll see.

It's like in Laramie where all the churches accomodate to what is essentially the same type of people...hence the reason that the church population shifts rather than grows. The traditional church seems to only be effective at reaching people who are already churched. That is why I think the church need to evaluate how they reach out to the culture around them.

I think that the structure of the church is just a symptom of the problem. People want to experience Jesus rather than be told about him. I just don't think the current typical church structure isn't very conducive to that. The church is still very much about packing into a building and hoping people come to us, rather than going out to meet needs and point people to Jesus.

Whitney said...

I think that's an excellent breakdown of what you were thinking, and I would agree with most of what you are saying. I just don't see how it's not controlling to impose those ideas on the Church in America or around the world. In essence, some form of control is desired in order to see the affected change.

Diggity Donnie said...

Jon,
I couldn't have said it better myself.
(And I was at the same show! Too bad I have no idea who you are, or I wold have said "Hey!"

Jon Kelly said...

Whitney - In terms of post-modernism, the control is taken from the leadership and assumed by the people. It's people taking control of the direction of their own faith. It isn't any person, board, team or whatever saying this is what you do...it's the regular people saying let's do this together.

Donnie - I'm just a random guy who lives next door to Matt. Aren't you somehow related to him and/or Shelly?

Diggity Donnie said...

Nah, no relation. But they're great people!

Whitney said...

I think that's an excellent breakdown of what you were thinking, and I would agree with most of what you are saying. I just don't see how it's not controlling to impose those ideas on the Church in America or around the world. In essence, some form of control is desired in order to see the affected change.