1) what do you feel is the most important part of the postmodern movement?
Great question. For me — and sorry if you were looking for something very profound, because this really is so obvious and simple — it’s the questioning of modernity. Even today I was realizing in some new ways the degree to which my thinking has been captive to modernity. It’s not that modernity is bad, any more than my size four shoes that I loved to wear back in kindergarten are bad … it’s just that modernity isn’t the one-size-fits-all way of seeing and thinking that we have to squeeze into forever.
2) most define the postmodern movement as a “age thing.” while others see it as beyond a generation. how do you define the postmodern movement?
In my opinion, it’s certainly not an age thing. It’s an emerging movement that is in its very, very early stages (surely still far to young to define with any clarity or completeness), united around the belief that the sets of assumptions, thought patterns, and values that characterized modernity (both outside the church and in it) are used up and need to be reexamined, sorted through, and wherever necessary, moved beyond. It is highly diverse and experimental. It is challenging to all of our modern “certainties,” and for this reason, many people are afraid of it. But, I am confident that it is a cultural phenomenon that is very open to the gospel, and in which the gospel will prove as good news as ever.
3) what do you see as the most important issue facing this generation?
Inside the church? Rediscovering (sorry to be repetitive here) what the gospel can mean when it hasn’t been sliced and diced by modernity. Outside the church? I guess the same thing!
4) who do you look to for support when you are faced with a like crisis?
I have such a great cadre of friends and family. At Cedar Ridge where I pastor, I would look to my fellow staff and board, along with many good friends. Outside of Cedar Ridge, I have a network of mentors across the country who I trust and value immensely. And I am fortunate enough to have a wise wife, loving parents, and nearly grown children who are there for me as well. We actually did have a life crisis a few years ago — one of our four children is a cancer survivor. So we learned first-hand how great it is to be part of a caring network.
5) a postmodern mindset tells us that friendships are extremely important. what do you do at CRCC to help develop new and lasting friendships?
Well, the first thing that comes to mind is that we try to create an accepting environment. We believe that the gospel is about God’s acceptance of us, and we try to live that out with each other. But here in the Washington area (I think Stephen Shields, who is part of Cedar Ridge, wrote about this) our great enemy is the speed of life … and I think all of our relationships struggle against time pressures, and speed, and hurry. It’s not easy, and I think we all wish we were better at it.
6) what do you believe is the best way – not the only way – of sharing your faith with a “not-yet-believer?”
I like what my friend Jim Hendersen says … we become “Christian consultants” or “spiritual consultants” to our friends. Not salesmen. Not preachers. Not manipulators or broadcasters. We’re friends, and we make ourselves available as consultants or guides to people in their spiritual journey. I often say (actually I have a book about this coming out next spring, called “More Ready Than You Realize”) that the essential thing is “to count conversations more than conversions.” If we are always trying to convert people, we’ll shortchange conversations — with all their questions and twists and turns and ups and downs — and as a result, conversions won’t happen. But if we focus on asking good questions and keeping conversations going, conversions naturally occur. At least, that’s how it seems to me. Sometimes it’s just best to ask questions, like “Tell me about your belief in God,” and then just to listen, listen, listen. We may preach more effectively by asking questions and listening than by anything else…. as you are doing by asking these 7 questions!
7) a great many of us see pop culture as an important way of communicating, what do you believe is the roll, if any, of pop culture in the church?
Well, I think those old lines between pop culture, folk culture, and high culture are really blurring, maybe even disappearing. So, to me the issue is simply recognizing that culture is everywhere, and churches that think they are isolating themselves from culture are really only isolating from THIS culture (i.e. the one into which they were sent by Christ), and instead, they are staying tied up in some other culture — maybe 18th century British culture, or 1950’s Kansas culture, or whatever. I’d rather be part of a “missional community” engaged with a living culture than a ” museum community” engaged with a dead one.
The challenge, of course, is to recognize that culture changes fast — and we haven’t learned very well to be churches of constant change.