Postmodern Worship

I’m on holiday which means I have had chance to get on with some reading.  I am just about finished with Adventures in Missing the Point and McLaren has said something about the phrase “postmodern church services” that amuses me greatly.

Traditional worship means uncool (ie suitable for the over-50 crowd), contemporary worship means used to be cool (suitable for the over-35 crowd), and postmodern means really cool (suitable for the under-35 crowd).


23 Responses

  1. Thats a great quote! 😆

    I have just finished ‘The Power of Everyday Conversations: More Ready than you Realise’ by the endlessly helpful Mr McLaren. I would recommend it most wholeheartedly, and its probably helped me understand the whole modern vs post-modern thing more than anything else I’ve read, in terms of how to relate to folk who are spiritually seeking.

    On the back cover it says:
    OUT: Evangelism as sales pitch, as conquest, as warfare, as ultimatum, as threat, as proof, as argument, as entertainment,as show, as monologue, as something you have to do.

    IN: Disciple making as conversation, as friendship, as influence, as invitation, as companionship, as challenge, as opportunity, as something you get to do.

    Perhaps you could be the founder member of the BMcL fan club and I can join too.

  2. Wonder if you’ve seen this? Its a letter to young pastors. Found the link on Brian McLaren’s webpage.

  3. Ha ha. I suspect that Mr McLaren would accuse us of missing the point 😀

    That Ken Wilson Link is fantastic!

  4. But would it be an adventure in missing the point Robb?

  5. Life is one big adventure. My friend used to say that was the reason I drove a 39 year old car. I wasn’t interested in the destination but the adventure of getting there.

  6. Unfortunate that so many buy in McLaren’s postmodern liberalism.

    But if having a faith that is readily acceptable and palatable to everyone around you is the “in” thing, I guess that’s another thing the church must contend with.

    It would seem the “cool” thing to be doing is searching. Finding…not so cool.

  7. Hello Mr Parrot

    3 Questions:

    1) would you rather all the people who don’t know Jesus were not searching or being encouraged to do so?

    2) would you rather that all the people who have grown up in, or otherwise found themselves surrounded by church culture, and yet get to that point where they think… “actually, i’m not sure whether i’ve found anything or not” just walk away rather than start searching.

    3) you know everything there is to know about God and have an infinitely deep relationship with him, right? And you have an answer for every life problem and heartache that anyone has ever experienced and an answer to explain away every question. Cos you’ve found. So there’s no more searching and exploring for you.

    I agree searching shouldn’t be an end in itself. Nor should we give a pretense of being conflicted and lost just to look cool. That’s a mugs game. But i think that everyone should be allowed to be honest about where they’re at in seeking God, and no-one should be condemned for honestly admitting there are things they’re still grappling with.

  8. Linus, thats well expressed and I agree with you. I would not deny what I have found, or that I have been found. But there are still a ton more things to find and learn, and I think narrative/journeying metaphor is more helpful than the in/out lost/found idea.

  9. Questions questions! What to do! Well, I’ll take my best shot folks.

    1) The thing I’ve noticed about the emergent/postmodern movement is that it is cool to be searching…not so much to find.

    2) Is “searching” another buzzword I have to get accustomed to like “mystery” and “social gospel”?

    3) No. But holding ignorance high as a sign of humility is somewhat dubious. Nobody knows everything, yet at the same time there are things that are indeed concrete.

    Grapple away with whatever you need too. I’m a Messianic Christian ( does that make me a pre-modernist? ) so you can well imagine the things I must consider and the searching I must do. But at the end of the day my emotions do not determine my walk. The Bible does.

    And that’s my objection with postmodernism.

    Postmodernism searches with an ambiguity towards finding anything definite. For example, “Jesus is the only way to heaven”. Is that distasteful to some? Sure, but it’s written in stone. The in/out/lost/found may be out of step culturally for some, but God is not dependent on our culture. It is what it is. Wanting something to be something else does not make it so.

    There you go. In 3 minutes or less. Deeper objections to postmodernism are widely available…just search!

  10. Hmm, am not sure that objections to postmodernism are the sort of things people are searching for…! 😆 I am not particularly disagreeing with you – yep, some things are concrete in our faith. No question. What they are, and how many of them there are, are open to debate.

    I don’t think searching, or journeying, or postmodernism, are about emotions. I think Jesus spoke and taught differently to different groups or types of people, he was culturally aware of the backgrounds of his listeners at different times. I think its possible to talk, teach, witness, live in ways that make it helpful for those around who want to understand.

    One of the (many, brilliant) things BMcL has to say is that we are not engaged in a system of belief, but a way of life. I agree with that wholeheartedly, and I still think people are drawn into a life that embodies love for others. That means not cramming religion down their throats and then blaming them when they find it unattractive maybe?

    As in the old message attributed to Francis of Assisi, preach the gospel at all times, using words only where necessary. This is a big ask. It’ll keep me busy awhile yet.

  11. I would actually like to ask you, personally, what it is you are searching for.

    I say this because I want to understand what the context of this line of thinking. Think of this as a favor!

    Are you searching for Biblical context, absolute truth, or just sort of an ambiguous “searching” that comes along with youth? ( I was young too! )

    As I see Christ, he spoke to the Jews and sent the apostles to the gentiles. Hence my focus on hebraic studies and context. Would this line of searching be consistent with postmodernism, or is it too definitive? For as I do this, more and more makes sense than trying to shoehorn Jesus into gentile 2009. Most postmodernists I know frown at this…as if to imply I’ve done wrong by learning something academically.

    And then another question…what is the postmodern gospel? Jesus as the sole means to the Father by faith alone as evidenced by our actions? Or a cooler, hipper ( showing my age ) Jesus who just wants to hang out at the coffee shop and not worry about all that “theology stuff”.

    BMcL is indeed pushing a way of life, but so are the Mormons. At some point, doctrine is going to have to be there or the gospel ceases to be. BMcL seems to be endorsing universalism more than anything.

    Seriously, I need some context from someone. Is Bible study just uncool?

  12. Only a short answer for now, as some of this needs more thought to explain. NO, Bible study is not uncool!! Its really cool, necessary, and helpful. Up to a point.

    I, personally, cannot really fully explain what postmoderism means, or purports to believe. The part that makes sense to me is about the narrative, not having arrived at a destination of fully knowing yet, but seeking to learn more about Jesus and embody that in my life. That will, truly, take me my whole life, and at the end my knowledge of him and embodying of him will still be imperfect.

    I think that if it has a theology as such, it is seeking to not divide, separate, label, reject – in the way modern Christianity has – but to reconcile, unite, support, join, bless – it is a positive theology. The BMcL idea of a way of life is a gospel way of life, as far as I can tell? I don’t hear him say anything that isn’t solidly based on the bible. Maybe you will disagree.

    I will give more thought to your very pertinent questions, if thats ok. Have a good weekend.

  13. This seems like it has a lot of wisdom in it I think, and it explains the idea of journeying very well – what do you think?

  14. Heh, DP that’s cool, i don’t need to search for objections to post-modernism, i’ve already found plenty of them =] I think we are coming from different directions to positions that are not actually all that far apart.

    I agree the purpose of searching is to find. I also think Jesus meets us where we are at. While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. If we demand people have already “found” before we extend grace and welcome to them, we’re not representing Him very well.

    I haven’t read a lot of the big Mac L’s stuff, so i can’t comment too much, but what i have read seems to extend grace and an invitation from a place of genuine trust in and love for Jesus.

    I think there’s an equally trendy trend(!) in some circles for labelling everything that isn’t very conservative and very evangelical as “postmodern” and then dismissing it by using arguments against postmodernism. This argument by association seems dangerous to me. As i say i don’t know enough about McLaren to comment on his specific point of view, but if your argument is:

    1)”any kind of expression of faith as a journey/process is postmodern”

    2) “postmodern is bad”

    THEREFORE: “faith as journey/process is bad”

    then i agree with the second proposition but not the first (with the caveat that, yes, the journey should have a destination)

    God is waaaay bigger than our culture, but its worth looking at how Paul ‘I have become all things to all people so that by every means i might save some’ of Tarsus engaged with different cultures. He speaks differently in Athens to how he speaks in Jerusalem. Same message, expressed to a different audience.

    I think that Jesus *is* cool and i think that Jesus *does* hang out in coffee shops, and other places too, because He cares about the people in them and wants them to be part of the Kingdom of God. My job as His representative in one of those coffee shops is to try to express that invitation in a way that makes sense to the recipient. If i say “salvation by grace alone” i’m likely to get an answer ranging from “What?” to “whatever”. If i say, “So, what do *you* think the purpose of life is?” then i’m engaging in dialogue which ultimately will allow me to talk about Jesus lots. In my experience, theological and philosophical knowledge is really useful in those kind of dialogues, so i would certainly respect those who are learned in these areas.

  15. I appreciate the insight. Thanks!

  16. You go on holiday for a few days and come back to find that you have missed perhaps the most profound debate to happen on your own blog.

    Good stuff guys!

  17. Shame you were away though – you would’ve had wisdom and articulate explanation to add to this for sure. Thank heavens you’d had the forethought to book Linus as your stand – in 😆

  18. I bumped into Linus on Monday night 100 miles away from home and we mentioned that I was missing out on my own blog 😀

    It’s one thing reading on a mobile phone. Its another entirely trying to make sense writing on one!

  19. And it was most excellent to see you and the Dr, too.

    Bloody hell, peace and harmony breaks out on the internet, how did that happen?

    Kim’s thought of me being a substitute you is amusing, no? =]

  20. Nah – pepsi will do in an emergency but coke is the real thing 😉

    Peace on the internet? I blame the cheesemakers!

  21. I prefer Sprite, myself =]

    You’re a very naughty boy.

  22. And also with you 😉

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