This has been said before, but just because you add some candles and a coffee bar in your church, or rearrange your pews [or take them out…(gasp)] – that doesn’t make you “postmodern” or “emerging.” Something that some people need to understand.
I think that churches who are seeking to minister to people in a postmodern culture can be classified [boy, that sounds like some pretty modern lingo – the need to box things in, classify them…oh well] into 3 different groups:
1. Aesthetically PoMo: This church adds some candles, maybe throws up some art and adds a coffee bar in the back. Wow! We’re ministering to postmoderns! Yet, you’ll hear the exact same message preached…and it will be preached. They will think that this is still the best way to get the gospel across. You might see some PoMos being drawn to churches who will advertise these as “postmodern” services or “alternative” services…but they will not stay long when they realize that these churches are failing to connect with any part of them other than just their coffee-cravings.
2. Methodologically PoMo: This church understands that postmoderns not only may need a different type of setting to worship in [though they may still use some of these aesthetic changes], but they may not relate to the clean-cut-PowerPoint-enhanced-3-point-style sermon. They realize that it’s possible that there may be others who have the ability to speak truth about God and life other than the Pastor – and they want them to have a chance to share. While there may be some who are more progressive (theologically) in this area, for the most part, the theology remains evangelical. Yet, they are much more creative in the ways they can get it across to pomos.
3. Theologically PoMo: This church understands that the typical methodologies used in evangelical churches are not resonating with postmoderns. However, it is not just the methodologies. Theologically PoMo churches are working with a New Theology for a New World – they believe that not only do we need to change the way we rethink sharing the gospel, we need to rethink the actual gospel we’ve been sharing. These churches would claim that too much of our theology today has laid in bed with modernity, and it’s time to break it up. Of course, conservative evangelicals will throw many words at these types of churches: liberal, heretical, wanderers from the truth. Of course, these churches will be reaching many people that would never consider entering a conservative evangelical church.
Note: [a Methodologically PoMo could also be Aesthetically PoMo; a Theologically PoMo church could also be Methodologically and Aesthetically PoMo]