Engaging the present
January 17, 2011
by Pastor Keith Carlson, Evangelical Covenant Church, Dassel

I have found that many of the resources that I subscribe to are addressing the issue of the Christian church of today as we attempt to live in the changing culture of our world.

Over the past decade, they have used terms like “modern” and “postmodern” to describe our changing times. It is important for us to study and discern the proper response to such times, and how we can most effectively serve the Lord.

I would like to summarize some thoughts from an article by Soong-Chan Rah, originally published in Leadership maga-zine.

Living in a postmodern age doesn’t mean much to some Christians except a concern that young people want to abandon dress codes, throw out traditional hymns, and introduce high tech features into worship and meetings. Because of tensions that rise up out of such diverse preferences, we must study the trends of our community and society to discern what the information suggests about sharing our Christian faith in the times we live in.

In doing so, I believe we discover that:

• postmoderns clearly live in the world, and so do we;

• postmoderns yearn for close-knit relationships;

• postmoderns tend to be relativistic and cynical about truth concerning God. What this means is that their desire is to really experience God, rather that just talk about Him.

Yet, our culture makes it difficult to connect people together. The world’s continual fascination with speed and motion naturally moves people away from one another. People have become disconnected. Technology, pace, and individualized communication, as seen in the development on the Internet of Facebook, Twitter, and more, multiplies this move toward individualism.

So, what is the goal of the church when ministering in a “postmodern” age?

It is not unlike the focus of the early church that develops in Acts 2:42. We are reminded that the focus of the early believers included:

• devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching;

• devoting themselves to being in fellowship with each other;

• devoting themselves to the breaking of bread together; and

• devoting themselves to prayer.

I believe the focus of the church when ministering in a postmodern age is very similar to that of the early church. Our goal is to restore connection – with God and with each other. That is why ministry today must embody the person of Christ in a tangible, observable way.

But, even more important, Christians in our age must demonstrate an ability to love, and show compassion and mercy. People around us who are hungering for community, authenticity, and sincere faith cannot argue against the evidence of genuine love.