I read an article the other day by a well-intentioned children's ministry leader that went something like this: Postmodernism is an ever-increasing threat to the church (and especially our children), and if we don't take measures to protect ourselves from it, we're doomed. After all, next to parents, who should be more concerned for the well-being of our children than churches?
I've been in a circle of people the last year or two who thinks a lot about the church's purpose and relevance in postmodern USA. I'd heard this word, "Postmodernism," thrown around quite often, but didn't know much about what it meant. So I asked a friend in this circle who double-majored in history and sociology; who better to ask than him? And he gave me the rundown. Postmodernism, firstly, is a literal term. It refers to everything after "modernism." So, like, we're in postmodernism. Modernism is all about dissecting the world around us into a scientific process. Truth is something that can be tested, and retested, to prove its validity, epitomized in apologetics authors like C.S. Lewis and Josh McDowell. The ever-popular Sinner's Prayer? Modernist. Perhaps you could say, modernist believers would contest that Christianity has a rational basis.
Postmodernism, however, focuses much more heavily on what my friend calls vantage points. Postmodern Christians would say that Truth is actually not so easy to pin down. With all that we learn over the years, various cultures, governments, and world views, how can anyone be so sure what is or isn't Truth? Even if you have inklings, how can you say for sure that you KNOW? It's much better to talk about what you've EXPERIENCED. That's postmodernism. Perhaps you could say, postmodernist Christians would contest that Christianity has an experiential basis.
And the cultural implications are HUGE! Architecture, music, clothing, education... and to some (many?) churchgoers, there are moral dangers about said culture.
The Christians I know who would align more closely with "modernism" look upon those shady postmodernists with scorn. "Why won't anyone rise up and stand on the TRUTH? We need more people with a backbone who aren't afraid to take a stand for God! Postmodernism is ruining our children's sense of morality!" In such discussions I usually respond with something profound like, "Hmm. So... how about that sunset over there?"
What's your take? Is postmodernism something we need to shield ourselves from? Do we as children's ministry leaders embrace it? If so, how?
Thursday, March 18, 2010
Wow, there are some really great children's ministry blogs out there. Goodness, there are entire websites dedicated to resourcing leaders with videos, tips, and even entire lesson plans from start to finish. However, this blog aims to do something hopefully a little different. We're more interested in hearing your perspective, to have discussions. So please share your thoughts! The hope is that as we do that, we'll walk away feeling like there's a whole world of possibilities we didn't see before, ones that would empower us to make a positive, lifelong impact in kids' lives towards God.
A Word About Me
My name is Peter Bierma. I graduated from Berklee College of Music with a BM in performance. I'm now the Children's Director at an independent church in Twin Falls, ID called Amazing Grace Fellowship. Funny how things work out sometimes. And I love it! I really enjoy discussing leadership, business strategy, personal development, the future of all things church-related, multi-ethnicity, pop and not-so-pop culture, faith, music, and woodworking, to name a few.
Posted by Peter at 4:01 PM