Ministry in a Post Modern Context, continued.
This is the last post on this probably too long look at postmodernism in ministry. We’re finishing up today by looking how to minister to the post modern need for holistic involvement. This one is tough, because it has connections to the desire for authenticity that the post modern has as well. What makes it even more difficult is the burden it places on us as established Christians to reach into the non-Christian post modern context. More on that in a minute.
The need for holistic involvement developed in part as a reaction against compartmentalization behavior. You need to understand that some compartmentalization is a necessary part of personality, and men tend to do it more than women. The type of compartmentalization that post-modernism is reacting against is the type of two-faced, intentional separation of character from context to context. For example, acting like one person when you are at home and acting completely different when you’re "with the guys".
Post moderns want whatever they are involved in to be a part of their lives as a whole. They often seek gifts/interests oriented employment to facilitate this desire. Nothing changes when they find a religious aspect to their lives. It is not a Sunday morning type of thing, but rather a holistic part of themselves. This is great for churches that can truly minister and connect post moderns. Once you have them as part of your family, they are there to work for the long haul.
How do we facilitate this need for holistic application? Here’s the top of the list:
– Be a holistic congregation – Many of our churches are not set up to support the holistic need that post moderns have. We are traditionally a Sunday/Wednesday group and don’t typically extend our church relationships beyond that time frame except for the occasional church activity. Becoming holistic means spending time in each other’s lives and finding regular places to meet during the week in a relaxed a casual environment. Breaking the Sunday/Wednesday mindset is probably the biggest obstacle to our churches connecting with post moderns. Finding the "third places" in our lives that we need will be essential.
– Application – Post Moderns need sermons and lessons that are full of narrative as well as application. I want to know specifically what I need to do with the message that you’ve just given me. It is one thing to preach about the fruits of the spirit. It is another thing entirely to say, "Now go and find a way to live this in your office during the week" or "Stop yelling at other drivers in traffic. It doesn’t matter that everyone does it or that your window is up. Stop it." Strong application helps the post modern develop the holistic lifestyle they want.
– Teach it like its expected – The concept of holistic Christianity needs to make it into the undercurrent of your congregation. It isn’t just good for post moderns, but for everyone else as well. When you talk about holistic living as though it is an expected part of congregational life, post moderns that happen to be floating through will find an immediate connection point.
– Give them holistic activities – Why stop at encouraging them to be holistic? Why not provide them with the holistic structure to help make it happen? If you provide the resources for holistic living, you’ll connect post moderns like you wouldn’t believe. Keep it informal, but provide different options. Pick a two hour window for members to meet at a local coffee house in the evening or a two hour window for breakfast in the morning. Make it casual and come-and-go. We have a Thursday Night Coffee House that doubles as a small group and also provide a monthly movie night for the typical age bracket that post modernism covers. The options are limitless, so experiment and have fun.
That’s all I have to say about post modernism in ministry. There’s lots more to be said, so if you have any questions or comments please make them known. The recommended post modern reading will be up in the next day or so. We’ll make it as a post so that other readers can add their preferences to the list as well. Thanks for following along with us!