Community the real issue for postmoderns?

I am intrigued by an article from a young pastor posted on RELEVANT magazine’s site. (The Death of Postmodernism by Jim Randas).  What I find interesting about Jim Randas’ article is that it echoes many conversations and experiences I have had about what postmodern people really desire–authentic community.  Randas says the following (emphasis added):

What I have found has challenged everything I ever thought about the emerging church. I am now the pastor/teacher of a new ministry where we are discovering that today most people have no problem with absolute truth. In fact most people gravitate toward it. What they want is a real connection and community. Realness, for lack of a better word. I would say that a defining characteristic of the post-postmodern church is that, instead of giving answers from the pulpit with a three-point homiletically prose sermon, we are challenging people to ask questions and tell the story of their “real” spiritual journey and find answers together.

What might be surprising to some is that mega-churches in some way often provide excellent small community group options.  This is quite different from the myth that is spread around that these ministries are monolithic entities.  In fact, I believe it is true that there are pastors of mega-churches that are delusional in thinking they really control their churches the way they think they do.  But, nevertheless, people find community in larger churches which is why nearly 40% of people that attend church do it in the top 10% largest churches.

Another thing that is striking is that "absolute truth" is really not a problem in reaching postmoderns, as stated in the quote above.  I have always believed this.  I think absolutely being dogmatic and angry about holding on to old ways of delivering the truth is really the issue.  This is what exits younger folks from our churches.  People want truth, but they want discover truth lived out in real life with real people.

If this is truly the case (absolute truth is not a problem with postmoderns), then is postmodernism dead?

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Rich Kirkpatrick

Rich Kirkpatrick

Writer, Speaker, and Musician. Rich Kirkpatrick was recently rated #13 of the “Top 75 Religion Bloggers” by Newsmax.com, having also received recognition by Worship Leader Magazine as “Editor’s Choice” for the “Best of the Best” of blogs in 2011, 2014, 2015 and 2016.

16 comments

  1. We don’t even know what postmodernism is yet, so how can we proclaim it is dead?
    I don’t know whether or not absolute truth is attractive to “most people.” I suspect that it’s not (especially if you’re talking about non-Christians). I do agree that it’s secondary. People don’t care about the truth of Christ until they’ve experienced the love of Christ.

    I have no doubt, though, that we will continue to find ourselves in a world that will not accept that Christianity holds the truth. People are still searching for the truth, but they’re not automatically searching for it in churches.

    What makes post-modernism what it is, though, is humility — even if I think I’ve found the truth, how can I be sure enough that it’s the absolute truth? This is a valid point of view, but it does easily lend itself to relativism. But sometimes we Christians need a healthy dose of humility in terms of our theology. We need to understand that we still see things dimly.

    For the postmodern, though, the proof of the truth lies not in the apologetics, but in the experience, which is why authentic community is vital, moreso than it always has been.

  2. We don’t even know what postmodernism is yet, so how can we proclaim it is dead?
    I don’t know whether or not absolute truth is attractive to “most people.” I suspect that it’s not (especially if you’re talking about non-Christians). I do agree that it’s secondary. People don’t care about the truth of Christ until they’ve experienced the love of Christ.

    I have no doubt, though, that we will continue to find ourselves in a world that will not accept that Christianity holds the truth. People are still searching for the truth, but they’re not automatically searching for it in churches.

    What makes post-modernism what it is, though, is humility — even if I think I’ve found the truth, how can I be sure enough that it’s the absolute truth? This is a valid point of view, but it does easily lend itself to relativism. But sometimes we Christians need a healthy dose of humility in terms of our theology. We need to understand that we still see things dimly.

    For the postmodern, though, the proof of the truth lies not in the apologetics, but in the experience, which is why authentic community is vital, moreso than it always has been.

  3. We don’t even know what postmodernism is yet, so how can we proclaim it is dead?
    I don’t know whether or not absolute truth is attractive to “most people.” I suspect that it’s not (especially if you’re talking about non-Christians). I do agree that it’s secondary. People don’t care about the truth of Christ until they’ve experienced the love of Christ.

    I have no doubt, though, that we will continue to find ourselves in a world that will not accept that Christianity holds the truth. People are still searching for the truth, but they’re not automatically searching for it in churches.

    What makes post-modernism what it is, though, is humility — even if I think I’ve found the truth, how can I be sure enough that it’s the absolute truth? This is a valid point of view, but it does easily lend itself to relativism. But sometimes we Christians need a healthy dose of humility in terms of our theology. We need to understand that we still see things dimly.

    For the postmodern, though, the proof of the truth lies not in the apologetics, but in the experience, which is why authentic community is vital, moreso than it always has been.

  4. We don’t even know what postmodernism is yet, so how can we proclaim it is dead?
    I don’t know whether or not absolute truth is attractive to “most people.” I suspect that it’s not (especially if you’re talking about non-Christians). I do agree that it’s secondary. People don’t care about the truth of Christ until they’ve experienced the love of Christ.

    I have no doubt, though, that we will continue to find ourselves in a world that will not accept that Christianity holds the truth. People are still searching for the truth, but they’re not automatically searching for it in churches.

    What makes post-modernism what it is, though, is humility — even if I think I’ve found the truth, how can I be sure enough that it’s the absolute truth? This is a valid point of view, but it does easily lend itself to relativism. But sometimes we Christians need a healthy dose of humility in terms of our theology. We need to understand that we still see things dimly.

    For the postmodern, though, the proof of the truth lies not in the apologetics, but in the experience, which is why authentic community is vital, moreso than it always has been.

  5. Derek, I have to disagree about one thing. Humility is not really postmodernism, narcissim is–all about the world through my eyes and my experience.
    Our culture (all ages) are postmodern in this way. We believe what is practical and self-serving. However, absolute truth really is attractive in an age where everything is spun, questioned and regurgitated.

    When postmoderns become followers of Christ, we need to teach them that there are things that are bigger than them that are simply true and have been true–such as the Bible. With the Gospel of Judas coming up for example, it is becoming easier for believers to be “tossed and turned by all sorts of doctrine” when they should be anchored in biblical, historical truths.

    There is nothing “un-humble”, or arrogant in saying some things are just true–regardless of whether or not my experience can validate it. Community indeed will help people see things outside of themselves. This is why it is one of the spiritual disciplines in the Bible.

  6. Derek, I have to disagree about one thing. Humility is not really postmodernism, narcissim is–all about the world through my eyes and my experience.
    Our culture (all ages) are postmodern in this way. We believe what is practical and self-serving. However, absolute truth really is attractive in an age where everything is spun, questioned and regurgitated.

    When postmoderns become followers of Christ, we need to teach them that there are things that are bigger than them that are simply true and have been true–such as the Bible. With the Gospel of Judas coming up for example, it is becoming easier for believers to be “tossed and turned by all sorts of doctrine” when they should be anchored in biblical, historical truths.

    There is nothing “un-humble”, or arrogant in saying some things are just true–regardless of whether or not my experience can validate it. Community indeed will help people see things outside of themselves. This is why it is one of the spiritual disciplines in the Bible.

  7. Derek, I have to disagree about one thing. Humility is not really postmodernism, narcissim is–all about the world through my eyes and my experience.
    Our culture (all ages) are postmodern in this way. We believe what is practical and self-serving. However, absolute truth really is attractive in an age where everything is spun, questioned and regurgitated.

    When postmoderns become followers of Christ, we need to teach them that there are things that are bigger than them that are simply true and have been true–such as the Bible. With the Gospel of Judas coming up for example, it is becoming easier for believers to be “tossed and turned by all sorts of doctrine” when they should be anchored in biblical, historical truths.

    There is nothing “un-humble”, or arrogant in saying some things are just true–regardless of whether or not my experience can validate it. Community indeed will help people see things outside of themselves. This is why it is one of the spiritual disciplines in the Bible.

  8. Derek, I have to disagree about one thing. Humility is not really postmodernism, narcissim is–all about the world through my eyes and my experience.
    Our culture (all ages) are postmodern in this way. We believe what is practical and self-serving. However, absolute truth really is attractive in an age where everything is spun, questioned and regurgitated.

    When postmoderns become followers of Christ, we need to teach them that there are things that are bigger than them that are simply true and have been true–such as the Bible. With the Gospel of Judas coming up for example, it is becoming easier for believers to be “tossed and turned by all sorts of doctrine” when they should be anchored in biblical, historical truths.

    There is nothing “un-humble”, or arrogant in saying some things are just true–regardless of whether or not my experience can validate it. Community indeed will help people see things outside of themselves. This is why it is one of the spiritual disciplines in the Bible.

  9. I would have to agree with you on this one Rich…
    …humility happens to be the thing I find lacking in the emergent church. (I will say that I have found the one “emergent” author I have read a significant ammount of, McLaren, has a tremendous humility.)

    The emergent conversation (especially online!) tends to be characterized by whining, bitterness, rebellion, and dogmatism.

    This has made it hard for someone like myself, who is attracted to the ideas of the emergent conversation, to align myself with it. I would never refer to myself as ’emergent” or “postmodern” without having a fairly intimate knowledge of the person I was conversing with.

  10. I would have to agree with you on this one Rich…
    …humility happens to be the thing I find lacking in the emergent church. (I will say that I have found the one “emergent” author I have read a significant ammount of, McLaren, has a tremendous humility.)

    The emergent conversation (especially online!) tends to be characterized by whining, bitterness, rebellion, and dogmatism.

    This has made it hard for someone like myself, who is attracted to the ideas of the emergent conversation, to align myself with it. I would never refer to myself as ’emergent” or “postmodern” without having a fairly intimate knowledge of the person I was conversing with.

  11. I would have to agree with you on this one Rich…
    …humility happens to be the thing I find lacking in the emergent church. (I will say that I have found the one “emergent” author I have read a significant ammount of, McLaren, has a tremendous humility.)

    The emergent conversation (especially online!) tends to be characterized by whining, bitterness, rebellion, and dogmatism.

    This has made it hard for someone like myself, who is attracted to the ideas of the emergent conversation, to align myself with it. I would never refer to myself as ’emergent” or “postmodern” without having a fairly intimate knowledge of the person I was conversing with.

  12. I would have to agree with you on this one Rich…
    …humility happens to be the thing I find lacking in the emergent church. (I will say that I have found the one “emergent” author I have read a significant ammount of, McLaren, has a tremendous humility.)

    The emergent conversation (especially online!) tends to be characterized by whining, bitterness, rebellion, and dogmatism.

    This has made it hard for someone like myself, who is attracted to the ideas of the emergent conversation, to align myself with it. I would never refer to myself as ’emergent” or “postmodern” without having a fairly intimate knowledge of the person I was conversing with.

  13. You guys are right that for a lot of people, it is all about the self. But think of it a different way — what the narcissistic world wants is for us to be so humble that we won’t boldy proclaim our truth.
    We have to walk the line between being humble — knowing that our interpretation of the finer things can be a little off — while still being bold about the big, important stuff. The danger in postmodernism is that it’s easy to be humble about the big, important stuff. “Yes, Jesus is the absolute truth, but I can’t be so bold as to say that another’s version of absolute truth isn’t possibly valid.” That’s what I tend to see in true postmodern Christians (not necessarily the emergent camp), and is the danger we face in the postmodern world.

  14. You guys are right that for a lot of people, it is all about the self. But think of it a different way — what the narcissistic world wants is for us to be so humble that we won’t boldy proclaim our truth.
    We have to walk the line between being humble — knowing that our interpretation of the finer things can be a little off — while still being bold about the big, important stuff. The danger in postmodernism is that it’s easy to be humble about the big, important stuff. “Yes, Jesus is the absolute truth, but I can’t be so bold as to say that another’s version of absolute truth isn’t possibly valid.” That’s what I tend to see in true postmodern Christians (not necessarily the emergent camp), and is the danger we face in the postmodern world.

  15. You guys are right that for a lot of people, it is all about the self. But think of it a different way — what the narcissistic world wants is for us to be so humble that we won’t boldy proclaim our truth.
    We have to walk the line between being humble — knowing that our interpretation of the finer things can be a little off — while still being bold about the big, important stuff. The danger in postmodernism is that it’s easy to be humble about the big, important stuff. “Yes, Jesus is the absolute truth, but I can’t be so bold as to say that another’s version of absolute truth isn’t possibly valid.” That’s what I tend to see in true postmodern Christians (not necessarily the emergent camp), and is the danger we face in the postmodern world.

  16. You guys are right that for a lot of people, it is all about the self. But think of it a different way — what the narcissistic world wants is for us to be so humble that we won’t boldy proclaim our truth.
    We have to walk the line between being humble — knowing that our interpretation of the finer things can be a little off — while still being bold about the big, important stuff. The danger in postmodernism is that it’s easy to be humble about the big, important stuff. “Yes, Jesus is the absolute truth, but I can’t be so bold as to say that another’s version of absolute truth isn’t possibly valid.” That’s what I tend to see in true postmodern Christians (not necessarily the emergent camp), and is the danger we face in the postmodern world.

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