What I've been thinking and what I've been reading for you to compare notes.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Trust, Tolerance, Truth, Brokenness, and Aloneness

TRUST is the first of the five leading struggles of the postmodern generation, according to chapter two of John Burke's book, "No Perfect People Allowed."

Burke attributes the birth of the "Postmodern Experiment" to the "Me Generation" that preceded it. Characterized by "The Sexual Revolution", skyrocketing divorce rates, latchkey kids, kids being forced to grow up into adulthood too soon, etc., "Americans went out for a three-decade binge on self, and now our country is vomiting up the consequences uncontrollably." (Page 32)

Postmodernists suffer from understandable trust issues that can only be properly addressed by the faithfulness of God as seen in trustworthy Christ followers and congregations.

TOLERANCE is the second leading struggle for postmodernists, and Burke warns, "Christian leaders must understand the stereotype we fight against." (Page 40)

Many Christians may not be intolerant but we must wrestle with the perception that we are nonetheless. We can stand for truth, which we must, but our presentation and our personal relationships must be without judgmentalism.

As one woman said when asking about visiting Burke's church, "I just need to know you're not one of those hateful churches." (Page 38)

"The attitude of the church culture will either convey the person of Christ and his attitude, which was outrageously accepting of and attractive to the 'sinners' of his day, or our attitudes toward others will reinforce a stereotype that does a disservice to Jesus." (Page 40)

Burke quotes Romans 2:4, which highlights the tolerance of God, as our model. "Do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God's kindness leads you towards repentance!"

TRUTH. "A national survey taken by Barna Research revealed that only one-third of Americans believe moral truth is absolute and unchanging." (Page 41)

"I find our generation incredibly open to spiritual truth and dialogue, but they have grown up in a world of competing beliefs...They don't resist truth; they resist arrogance...Fundamentally, truth is not primarily propositional, but personal. Jesus said, 'I am the truth...' The best way to help emerging generations find truth is to introduce them to Him." (Page 42)

From previous forays into summaries of postmodernism, I already firmly concurred with what Burke states next: "Personally I have found that much of postmodern thought presents a potentially greater opportunity than threat for the church."

I have some pastor friends whom I have shocked by stating this same opinion. So I've asked them, "So you believe the previous worldview of 'modernism' was friendly to the church and the spread of the Good News about Jesus?" Read the history of the church for the 19Th and 20Th centuries. Some of her greatest battles were with the modernistic worldview that scientific theories trumped Scripture! How is that more friendly than postmodernism? It isn't. It's just a different battle.

BROKENNESS. "If Christian leaders do not prepare and organize and pray so that healing can occur from the wounds caused by the Postmodern Experiment, we will lose a generation. Trust issues may make them cynical, tolerance issues may make them unwilling to listen, truth issues may confuse them, but acting out of brokenness will destroy them." (Page 44)

"If you are going to minister to emerging generations , you must create a culture where broken people are welcome and healing happens." (Page 44)

ALONENESS. Knowing how to effectively connect with others in community is often difficult for members of emerging generations. Just as he does for the preceding four leading struggles of the postmodern generation, Burke gives the causes and affects of this plague.

Once again he points out that the church is effectively structured by God to meet this need. A local church culture of unconditional love is essential to heal aloneness.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Dare You Not to Smile!

Our grandson Andrew in Spain, 4 & 1/2 months.

Even if his t-shirt were in Spanish you would know what it said from the smile on his face!

Now admit it, there's nothing like a smiling baby - especially if it's your grandchild.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Colts Belong in the Big Game!

I've been a Colts fan since the days of Johnny Unitas. I grew up less than 30 miles from Baltimore and was living in Indiana when the Colts moved there in the 80's. It is good to see that they will go to the Super Bowl after having bested the Patriots, their arch-rivals.

The Colts deserve to be in the big game. Their defense stepped up its play when it mattered and the offense has been proficient the last several years.

I got a call after the game from our baby girl, Bethany, (our baby who is now 24) who grew up in Indiana, congratulating me on the Colts win. That was the icing on the cake after watching a great game.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Cynical Results of Postmodernism

Reading and reviewing chapter two of John Burke's book, "No Perfect People Allowed" I have these thoughts to share.

I can identify with Burke's frustrations that people don't receive the Good News about Jesus like they used to. With postmodernists something can make sense to them but making sense is not all it takes to get them to follow Christ. Those who wish to win current and future American generations for Christ need to take a serious look at how the playing field has changed.

I follow Christ in the "Bible Belt", although I'm not sure our city qualifies actually. Huntsville, Alabama, believe it or not, is really quite cosmopolitan in many ways. Science and tech industries have imported open minds from around the world. And people under 30 have had their worldviews shaped by sociological, philosophical, historical, political and even spiritual ideas foreign to the Bible Belt no matter if they've grown up here or not.

Burke makes a solid case that those of us interested in reaching a generation whose thinking has been adversely affected by postmodern thinking must contextualize the message of Christ for the culture in which we live.

Problem with me is I just turned 50 last year. The older you get the more contact you lose with current cultural trends - unless you do so intentionally.

It's good my wife and I have three children who just left the nest in the last several years. Their communications help me stay somewhat in touch with current trends. I can benefit from something I read somewher else recently called, "Reverse Mentoring." Like, one of the teens at church helped me program some stuff on my cell phone recently. I honestly didn't know how. And don't ask me who won the grammys. I see the names and hear the songs and I'm totally lost - except for contemporary Christian music - and even then I can't keep up totally.

Well I haven't kept up with talking about Burke's second chapter. I've rambled. It's Friday. Perhaps I'll get my mind back in gear for this later.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

No Perfect People Allowed

This book was on my Christmas want list and our youngest daughter Bethany and her husband David gave it to me.

Published in 2005, I have been wanting to read it for some time.

I will update my reading progress by journaling in this blog - if no one else reads - at least it will help me solidify my thoughts.

The most pertinent comment of his introduction: "This is truly the most diverse generation in American history, and, as you'll see,
it's a generation not easily reached by a one-size-fits all approach." (Page 10)

I wept when I read the Scripture Burke gave as his basis for chapter one, probably because right now is one of those times the Holy Spirit is really stirring my heart with Christ's compassion for those who don't know Jesus. "Look around you! Vast fields are ripening all around us and are ready now for the harvest." (Jesus - John 4:35)

"Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were..." (Paul, 1 Corinthians 6:9-11)

I sense God is going to stir my heart by reading this book. This is the highest goal I long for when reading Christian works.

"Unless Christians leading the church in America change, and unless the church begins living out the magnetic attractive force Jesus had on the world, the Christian church in America will become completely marginalized in decades." (page 15) "...doing church like this is a mess...but its a beautiful mess!" (page 16)

"This is the emerging church, not church for a post-Christian culture, where Christians huddle up behind the fortress walls and make forays outside into the messy culture, but a church molded out of a post-Christian people - and indigenous church, rising up out of the surrounding culture to form the Body of Christ!" (page 17)

"Emerging cities of America have much in common with Corinth: wealth, education, leisure, sports and entertainment 24/7, the most religiously diverse population in the world...but much like the church in the pagan, pluralistic, promiscuous city of Corinth, the twenty-first century church will be messy if its't to be effective." (pages 19-20)

"Are we raising up a generation of leaders ready to lay down their comfortable lives to dive into the muck of cultural America? Or are we just playing church..." (page 20)

Those types of comments set the stage for the vision of the book.

"Our responsibility is not to make people grow or change. Our task is to create the right soil, a rich healthy environment, in which people can grow up in faith until the invisible God is made visible through His body, the church. But how do we create soil in which the invisible is made visible? This is the art of culture creation and the focus of this book." (page 22)

"The culture is what seekers pick up on immediately." (page 23)

In the rest of the chapter he defines culture (in the local church) and how to understand cultural context.