Have you wondered why the sure-fire evangelism methods of the past, don’t cut it today? You know; ‘Two Ways to Live’ and ‘The Four Spiritual Laws, and the other techniques which worked tolerably well way back in the 1980s, but seem to fall flat when presented today.
And the Answer is ……..
According the Sam Chan, a medical doctor (Sydney trained), of Chinese ethnicity turned, Evangelist (PhD USA), the reason for the impotency of past methods isn’t that they are inherently flawed, but because the world has moved on, and we, the Church have not.
Our audience (the unsaved) have changed, we are no longer preaching to Modernists, but Postmodernists, and believe me! The old rules no longer apply.
So What’s a Postmodernist?
(I don’t even know what a Modernist is)
Think it’s trendy to be a Modernist? Sorry you’re a dinosaur. Modernism was born at the time of the Enlightenment. You know the philosophers; Kant, Descartes, Hume and co-conspirators.
Okay no worries, you’ve probably never heard of them. Don’t get stressed they’ve been consigned to the dusty pages of history. They’re legacy was the ‘Scientific Era’. An era in which massive leaps in knowledge and technology occurred.
Modernists believed that knowledge (and so truth) could be discovered from experiments, followed by the unbiased analysis of the empirical data from these experiments.
The notion that there’s only matter (ie atoms), that absolute truth exists, it’s universal, and can be discovered by the unbiased methods of science, basically defines Modernism.
Postmodernists reject all these assertions as a metanarrative (an overarching paradigm) imposed on us, by those claiming to have truth or knowledge, and through it are attempting to control us. Consequently the government, religion, and other forms of societal authority are not to be trusted.
Simply put, to a Postmodernist truth is not absolute, all enquiries are biased and never objective, and diversity of opinion on a subject shows a variety of ways to express truth, and so tolerance of diversity is prized.
So How do we Engage with a Postmodernist?
Sam Chan explores some exciting options. Here they are………………
- Walk the Walk, don’t just talk the talk. He avers that a Christian attempting to live, according to the teachings found in the Bible will provide a powerful testimony to Postmodernists.
Like showing hospitality, not to those who can repay us but to those who can’t. Inviting homosexuals to dinner, doesn’t mean you approve of their choice, but shows that you’re tolerant and prepared to love the sinner. Just as Jesus did, he mixed with the pariahs of society. Tax collectors, whores and lepers.
Acting justly, giving to the poor, feeding the hungry, and donating your time to a local charity, and a thousand other practical demonstrations of ‘loving your neighbour’ as Jesus commanded, speaks to a Postmodernist.
- Turning your testimony into a story. A Postmodernist can challenge your absolute assertion that Jesus is the Son of God, but they can’t deny the change in your life that Jesus has made.
- Postmodernists have different pain points. The old syllogism of sin, guilt and punishment, doesn’t have any impact. Postmodernists see this as the imposition of the metanarrative, on them. They’re busy saving the planet, making a difference, and being the perfect parent. Concern for this makes them self-righteous, seeing themselves as better than others. They have made their good-reputation their idol. But ignored God, they have shamed God by ignoring him.
Overhaul the Way we do Evangelistic Church Services
Sam Chan argues that our current model of the Evangelistic Church service, though well intended is a real turn off.
In its place he offers the following alternative. Don’t make the Bible talk the centre piece of an Evangelistic Services, it’s one part among many others. The service should be designed to show Christianity in action, how it works.
Taking up the offering and explaining how it will be used, to pay for the work of your church in the community. Will impress Postmodernists, who thought that the Church amassed wealth for itself.
The announcements and prayers tell them that members are sick, and what the church is doing for them. Taking meals around, taking them to the doctors and offering other forms of support. Shows them that the church is a caring community, a tribe that carries a burden of responsibility for their members. Showing that our love for each other is real and authentic. Postmodernists cherish the community aspect of our humanity.
During these parts of the service, they will also hear that our concern for social justice is genuine. Showing that we care for the poor, the marginalized and the oppressed.
A short message (10 minutes), from the Bible passage follows next. But the final word should be a personal testimony, which proves that God changed someone’s life, and by deduction He can change theirs too.
Sam Chan offers the steps a Postmodernist takes to conversion. 1. The Christian life is livable 2. If it’s livable, then it’s believable 3. If it’s believable, then it must be true. That’s the life I want.
Vic Matthews, has three degrees B.Optom, B.Arts & B. Christian Studies. He is a kiteboard tragic, who now works as a Christian Copywriter. He can be found at http://trustworthycopywriter.com/writing-services/christian-copywriter/
Vic Matthews' previous articles may be viewed http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/vic-matthews.html