04 Sep, 2015 Three evidences of postmodernism in the Church
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Hi Pastor or Church Leader
Last month we discussed postmodernism in our culture. This month we are going to consider the scary possibility that postmodern beliefs might be significantly inside our churches.
Mobilising members to evangelistic action is hard – and I have become increasingly convinced that one factor is that many Church people have doubts about basic Christian belief – it’s just that they don’t talk about it? The evidence of this is not hard to find.
Psychologists tell us that beliefs lead to behaviour. If this I the case, and believers are not sharing faith (behaviour), what does that tell us?
For sure, many have experienced disappointments in their outreaching – but shouldn’t love cause us to overcome this? Consider how a parent might risk their life to run into a burning building to save a child. Love produces courage that is able to overcome even our greatest of fears. (And love produces determination to find solutions to problems that hinder love being expressed). I wonder if what we are seeing is a significant growing level of doubt in our churches regarding core Christian beliefs – like the sinfulness of man, judgement, hell, and Jesus as the only path to salvation?
I mean, why would we tell people to follow Jesus if they can get to heaven through other religions (pluralism) – or if everyone is going to heaven (universalism)?
Last month we discussed three characteristics of postmodernism. Lets look at these again, but in reference to our churches:
Scepticism of truth claims – is it inside the modern western Church?
A survey in the US found that 57% of evangelical Church attendees believed many religions could lead to eternal life.
Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life http://pewforum.org/news/display.php?NewsID=15915
- Note that these are so-called ‘evangelical’ Christians.
- The majority believed many religions could lead to eternal life.
A rejection of moral absolutes – is it inside the modern western Church?
While 85% of Americans self-identify themselves as Christians 83% of those said they believed that moral truth depended on the circumstances? Only 6% of them said moral truth was absolute.
The Barna Update 2002
- The greater majority believe moral truth is ‘relative’
- 6% believing moral truth is absolute is really not good – becaues the Bible is clear about this.
What is really going on inside the minds of our smiling, nodding Church-attenders?
A resulting indifference toward religion – is it inside the modern Western Church?
In another Barna report, while 44% of born-again Christian adults were certain that absolute moral truth existed, only 9% of born-again teenagers felt certain of the same!
Barna Research as quoted in the Los Angeles Times, 2002-SEP-17.
- Positively, the percentage who believed that absolute moral truth did exist was much higher than the previous statistic – the reason being that this a subset yet again of the group. The 44% are those who classify themselves not only as evnangelical Christians, but as ‘born again.
- The scary point is that only 9% of so-called ‘born-again’ teenagers felt certain of the same. What is going on?
- I think it is becoming increasingly clear that our younger people are being significantly influenced by our culture in their beliefs. In our churches, we aren’t keeping up with the pace of the changes in our culture. Their thinking and beliefs are being affected – and it’s about time we recognised this, so we can work out how to counter it!
- You see, we might have taught them about what the Bible says – but why do we trust the Bible?
- We might tell them about a good and loving GOd – but what about suffering ,and what about the other religions? Isn’t it arrogant or naieve to think you are the only ones to have the truth?
- So – without answers, our adults keep coming to our churches (though become passive in faith), while our younger ones stop coming altogether because they haven’t been given the information needed to sustain the belief that Christianity might be true.
What are we to do?
I suggest that giving our members a clear and ongoing equipping in why we believe our faith to be reasonable and true is now more important than it was, because our schools and our media are quite explicitly teaching and promoting a multi-religious worldview. Our members are being bombarded with a secular worldview!
How could we do this?
Identify the topics
In any culture there might be only about 10 to 15 key questions about Christian faith.
Why not make a list?
I did this at the back of my book ‘Because we care’, along with some basic directions for answers. And then we did it again in the ‘Faith Q&A’ series – which you can find at 10DayChallenge.co.nz. This series gives you concise video-answers, by New Zealanders, to common questions.
I also recommend the DVD series ‘Towards Belief’ by Karl Faase, in which he has identified a dozen key topics, and then has created some very good 30 minute long documentaries on each of them for small group discussion. It’s a great resource!
Start educating their minds
Why not play one of the ‘Faith Q&A’ videos every week in your service, over a period of 2 or 3 months – but then get members to give their own answers in services over the next 2 to 3 months.
If we would decide to intentioanlly equip our members minds, it is incredible what can be achieved. If we lay brick upon brick, and are consistent in this approach, an entire congregation can develop an amazing understanding of the reasons for their faith.
And the result?
..doing this could give them confidence in their own faith so they stand for it
– while also giving them a wealth of knowledge that they can bring to their conversations in a wise and appropriate manner.
Why not create a list of questions, and then find a way to work through them using the ‘Faith Q&A’ series that is free online, or using Karl Faase’s ‘Towards Belief’ DVD series with your small groups.
It will make a difference to their confidence in their faith – and to their ability to be a witness.
May the Lord make you effective in making your members effective!