America is rapidly becoming a postmodern culture. Postmodern people think differently and act differently than past generations. Many churches are struggling to reach people who come from a postmodern world view.
How does a postmodern person think?
A synopsis of postmodern thinking can be found in George Barna’s book, The Seven Faith Tribes, on page 209. Barna writes, “This is the most commonly held worldview in the United States today. It maintains that there is no “metanarrative” or grand story that explains life and reality or gives it purpose. Each person makes decisions about how to live based on feelings and experience. Nobody has the right to dismiss any of those decisions as wrong or inappropriate. Morality is a private matter, and if a choice is deemed right by someone, it is therefore right for that person and others must be tolerant of that choice. Life is a random series of subjective experiences, and a person’s ultimate purposes are comfortable survival and personal expression. The things that matter most in life are having experiences and relationships. One may believe in the existence of God but cannot compel anyone else to do so.”
In light of this viewpoint, when preaching to postmoderns:
1. Don’t be afraid to use scripture. Most postmoderns are biblically illiterate and are not sure about inerrancy, but they are curious and they do generally think God knows more than mankind does. Postmoderns expect something in a sermon other than the pastor’s opinion or some flimsy pop psychology disguised as a sermon.
2. Go deep. During the “baby boomer” years of church growth, many sermons were watered down to meet baby boomers’ felt needs. Postmoderns are not interested in a light devotional. If they have made the effort to come to church, it means they want to wrestle with the tough questions about life and discover deep answers to life’s perplexing problems.
3. Use some interaction and experiential methods. Postmoderns do not just want to sit and listen to someone else talk. They want to experience something, so interact with them in a sermon. Interview one of them or ask questions for them to answer. In the music, make sure it is them talking to God not just listening to a choir talk about God. Let them clap, hold hands or dance.
4. Use technology well - videos, power point, etc. Most postmoderns grew up surrounded by technology. It is the only way many of them know how to learn. Use this to your advantage and become good at utilizing these tools.
5. Use some “liturgy” without being ritualistic. Most postmoderns have enough connection with “church” to grasp that the Lord’s Prayer, candles and communion are all part of worship, even if they don’t know the meaning of it all. Using some of those elements from a liturgical experience that post moderns may have had as a child, connected with modern technology and music, helps postmoderns relate to the worship experience.
6. Use stories of your own life, especially about your failures and weaknesses. Most postmoderns grew up in a culture of brokenness, so they relate well to your own journey toward wholeness.
7. Use “we” and “us” statements instead of “I” and “you” statements. Most postmoderns want to “belong.” Use statements that help them feel part of the group.
8. Don’t ask them to make a commitment to something on the spot. Instead challenge them to think deeply for a period of time and then act on their reflective conclusion.