Saturday, May 5, 2012

Postmodern Spirituality

I recently wrote an article about how Grandpa's Church is Struggling. The article talks about how churches are rapidly losing their young people. The article seems to be getting a lot of attention on the web. I followed that article up with one on Understanding Postmodernism, which can be a complicated philosophical worldview to grasp (even by those who hold to it). Then I connected those two articles with a third, which explained the link between Postmodernism and Age. That article helped readers understand that the reason Grandpa's church is struggling is because most of the young adults in the community have bought into postmodernism and most churches do not understand what that is or how to communicate with those who hold to that worldview.

All of these articles have led some of my readers to conclude that postmodern people are not interested in being spiritual. However, I think it is important to point out that contrary to what many Christians think, people with a postmodern worldview often consider themselves to be quite spiritual. However, they tend to pick and choose the pieces of spirituality they like from a variety of sources. They will not accept the church’s traditional brand of spirituality without personal exploration, experiences, and relationships. Since so many traditional evangelical churches expect blanket acceptance, postmodern young people have struggled to remain involved in traditional evangelical churches in recent years. 
For several years I have known Li-Jin (name changed for privacy reasons), who is an exceptionally bright student at one of the finest colleges in New England. One of Li-Jin’s parents is a Christian; the other is a Buddhist. Li-Jin often refers to himself as a Christian Buddhist. After I had extensive conversations with Li-Jin, it was clear he had spent a considerable amount of time reading books by both Christian and Buddhist authors and melded certain aspects of each religion into his own personal belief system. Though parts of each religion clearly contradict the other and the two worldviews are incompatible as an integrated faith system, in Li-Jin’s mind, this melded religion makes sense. Li-Jin essentially created his own religion—his personal brand of spiritual truth. Not only did he get to pick the parts of each religion that he liked best, but he was also able to avoid disappointing either of his parents. This eclectic kind of spirituality, in which pieces of different religions are combined into a new belief system, is becoming quite common among members of the next generation. As one can imagine, small churches will have to work harder to reach people like Li-Jin. But they can be reached! In my next post, I will explain how!

Adapted from my book, Mission Possible: Reaching the Next Generation through the Small Church, which can be purchased at thousands of online retailers or directly from the author.

1 comment:

  1. I know "Li-jin" (BTW: that's a funny name you made up for him). He is a great guy. Definitely does not think of himself as a "Christian." Not really sure he would consider himself a "buddhist" either. He really has made up his own worldview. Interesting.