Postmodernism is the idea that individuals have both the intelligence and the right to decide for themselves what truth is. In the past, truth was a clearly deﬁned fact that was generally accepted by each generation. Postmodern individuals see the deﬁnition of truth as less clear. As postmodern people search for truth, they base their conclusions on their own research, individual experiences, and personal relationships instead of on the truth accepted by their parents, government, or church. This does not mean postmodernists do not believe in truth; it just means they deﬁne truth for themselves.
Postmodern people are quite comfortable with the concept that diﬀerent people will come to diﬀerent conclusions about the same subject and all of them have discovered the truth, even if such truths contradict each other. For most postmodern people, the concept of absolute truth does not exist. It has been replaced with a more personalized sense of truth that may vary from person to person.
It can be diﬃcult to describe how postmodern people think because they do not like to be categorized. However, careful observation of their behaviors, combined with listening to what young people say and write, oﬀer a glimpse of postmodernists’ common characteristics. Dr. Earl Creps is the director of the doctor of ministry program at Assemblies of God Theological Seminary in Springﬁeld, Missouri. He writes extensively on postmodernism. He has discovered:
The average person inﬂuenced by postmodernism may never have heard a lecture or read a book about it. Nonetheless, the traits that embody the philosophy are all around us: the centrality of community, the primacy of experience, the subjectivity of truth, the complexity of human perception, the fragility of progress, the unreality of absolutes, the enormity of the spiritual [and] the plurality of worldviews.
Other writers have compiled similar lists of postmodern traits that frequently appear in the next generation. If churches wish to eﬀectively engage postmodern people with the gospel, they will have to deal with these common traits.
An excerpt from Terry Dorsett’s book, Mission Possible: Reaching the Next Generation through the Small Church, published by CrossBooks, a division of Lifeway.