I spent much of my "church life" as a pentecostal and was blessed to have found such a witness to the grace, glory and love of God through Jesus Christ as the Methodist Church. Sounds like a commercial spot, right? Well it could be and ought to be, but instead of it being done by "starving, no talent actors", it should be done by sincere, moved and transformed Christians who have found a relevant meaningful and purposeful gospel that makes sense to us "post-moderners." I have recently been reading a book that was published by the Nazarene Church publishing house and that was heavily contributed to by Nazarene's...oh and one little unknown Methodist dude, named Len Sweet :). The book is entitled "Post Modern and Wesley"...intriguing, right? It was to me!! From the moment I picked this little book up I could not set it down. For me, this book put some skin and muscle tissue on the skeleton of what I have been feeling about our churches post-modern witness, or lack there of. The truth is the world has changed, but the churches approach to how it reaches the world has not. The church is using modern techniques to try to effectively reach the world in a post-modern era. So the big question is...where do we go from here? I mean, if your paying any attention at all to main-line protestantism you will see that what we're doing is not working, it is in fact, broken. What actually needs to be done is that church needs a new model for doing church. I recently spoke with a friend of mine, who is a priest in the Episcopal church and she also believes that some "new model" must be formulated in order to reach a post-modern world, but she admits she has no idea what that looks like and neither do most church leaders. We all have been doing what we do for so long, there just isn't any other way to do it, or at lest that's what we think. The new model, the model that will reach post-moderns can best be demonstrated in the natural order of things.
Scientist have proven that in nature order comes from within not from without. Order in nature is born out of what we would perceive as chaos. This is called chaos theory. In quantum physics there is this thing called a "strange attractor". A strange attractor is a sub atomic particle that moves in what seems to be random order, but in it's chaotic and random movements it creates something that is ordered. I saw a diagram of this in a book I recently read called "Leadership and the New Science." This one small sub atomic particle moved and moved across a computer screen and created a three winged bird!!
The key to reaching postmodernist is Holy Spirit Leadership. How do I derive this from quantum physics? Well nature is often the best reveler of God's plan. Len Sweet says that "truth is green and black" meaning that truth is found in the black ink of scripture, but it is also found in the "green" of nature. The Holy Spirit moves and often we do not understand its movement, but we trust that in this not-understood and sometimes chaotic movement of God's Spirit...God is creating and re-creating in and through us. If we are to reach postmoderners we much take on a new model that listens to the movements of the Holy Spirit, we must embrace what is organic in a community, what is natural, the church must return to it's grass roots and stop confusing the mission with the institution.
As a Methodist, I value structure and organization, but I see it only as a tool for the purpose of building the kingdom, not as the kingdom it's self. The church must reconsider what works and what does not, we must do as Lovett Weems suggest... "live on the edges", the edges of what once worked and what will work. I belive that Wesleyanism and the new Anglican Churches such as The Anglican Church in North America that have been formed out of the "chaos" of the Episcopal Church are moving in away that will allow the Holy Spirit to be their Strange Attractor and create new life out of it all. I'll finish with this story... The most transforming and reforming moment of my Christian life came after our fallout with the Pentecostal church. We were so burned out and hurt from our experience in that church that we were about to give up on church all together. Then we came into contact with an Anglican/Episcopal Priest who invited us to come and receive "Eucharist" that night. we went, not sure what Eucharist was, but we went and we met Christ maybe even for the first time. When I went down front for communion and that wafer touched my tongue I felt forgiven, I felt alive, even born again, for the very first time!!! That was a transformation.... out of chaos and uncertainty, out of what was not typical for me came the creation of beauty from God's Holy Spirit. I finally gave up on what I thought God was and what I thought church should look like and that's when God moved the most. Join me and others as we continue to seek out truth and meaning and the way to connect the gospel to this post-modern world.