karen ward

Karen Ward is pastor at apostleschurch.org

1) how would you define “postmodern culture?”

i wouldn’t.

maybe YOU would.

that’s fine… 4 YOU.

i’m in solidarity with where, like, you’re at on this…

so, you go boy!

don’t fight the karma!

define anything you like…

but i’d rather not.

I mean, come on?

DEFINE? Rootword = de-finire. = TO SET BOUNDS = a thinly guised will to power!

uh huh… you may wanna go there, but I’m not coming with (unless you just need a companion)

it seems like an innocent question, right? (said the spider to the fly)

didn’t mean any harm by it?

NO ONE EVER DOES, so join the club…

scratch that!

some of us “middle passage” people were never allowed in the club (unless to clean it)

you may not have CHOSEN this POWER, but you BENEFIT from it.

COMPRENDE?

anyway, vie du wilst…

it’s all good! isn’t it? (well, if you believe in good. I have my doubts…)

you defend the right to be BEAR ARMS.

i defend the right to ARM BEARS.

WHATEVER AND EVER. AMEN

one “man’s” definition is another person’s POWER-PLAY

let’s just fuh-gahd-about-it

besides, who has time to fight any LAME POWER…that’s so sixties, UGH!!!

better to ignore it, Ay?

defining culture?

can we say JIHAD?

bor-ing…

why try and define anything?

the things that matter most to all of us can’t be defined.

we can’t define the wisdom of the wise, or the love of a friend, or what makes us laugh or cry…

all we can do is experience those things and know in our hearts that they are real.

instead of defining our culture, let’s just groove with some.

so why don’t you invite me out for sushi and grits?

afterwards, we can go find a decent turkish hookah bar, chill to some nusrat fateh ali khan,

or israel kamakawiwo’ole and just chill.

p.s. if you haven’t heard kamakawiwo’ole’s version of “somewhere over the rainbow,”

use your MORPHEUS and nab that KILLER tune.

2) i love your term “emerging ethos” can you unpack that term for us?

i can’t unpack it too much as it is still emerging! I like to use the term “emerging ethos” when talking about churches, church movements and networks that are native (rather than immigrant) to the postmodern era. the majority (not all) of such churches and networks are being founded by members of native postmodern generations (post 1960 born). such churches (like www.seaq.org, www.thebridgechurch.com and www.vineyardcentral.com ) and networks (like www.emergentvillage.org and www.theooze.com) seem to have a discernibly different ethos that churches and organizations founded previously. by “ethos” I mean “footprint” or “modus operandi,” their way of seeing and being that is native to the postmodern culture, so as to communicate gospel (not culture) to postmodern people.

the term “gen x church” is too limiting, as the postmodern orientation and outlook overlaps with, but goes beyond just age. and the term “postmodern church” is also a misnomer, because the church is not postmodern, we are. human epochs change and will continue to change from pre-modern, to modern, to postmodern, and post-postmodern… but god and gospel are the same yesterday, today and forever. the only descriptors that I find really useful for god’s church are “one, holy, catholic and apostolic.” these descriptors are not the newest buzz words from some pomo guru’s latest book, but come from the nicene creed.

to me, “emerging ethos” churches seem to share many of the following traits:

a flat and loose structure

a “plan/do” rather than maoist blueprint for action

a non-interest in building huge “campuses” or mini fiefdoms

a low maintenance meta, not high maintenance mega feel

a communal rather than programmed lifestyle

biblical, rather than self-improvement teaching

a respect for deep core tradition and symbols.

seeking authenticity more than “excellence”

no fear of vulnerability in the world, and before God

a distaste for spit and polish

a comfort with technology as a tool (not a panacea).

a view that all are seekers

a view that all need real worship (not entertainment).

a non-interest in parsing worship into “styles”

a desire for cruciform, rather than self-actualized living

a vocabulary devoid of the word “contemporary”

a need to know, more than to “know about” god

a focus on growth in the love of god

a orientation to faith as journey, not destination

a view of conversion as process not moment

a need to grow “into the stature of christ,” more than to out-size a community

church growth (in numbers) that is sideways and not up

a thirst for justice

a belief that the love of god is made real in love and service to neighbors… which is our spiritual worship.

for a more in-depth profile about such churches and why they are sprouting up (mostly undetected, like holy weeds growing beside mega and modernist church lawns), check out the book “in search of authentic faith,” by steve rabey. you can get it off my site at http://www.emergingchurch.org/resources.html

3) how do you see outreach being best accomplished in a postmodern culture?

the best “method” i can think of for doing outreach in a postmodern culture, is basically, the “jesus method.” not necessarily in a “wwjd” way, but in a way which realizes that in our postmodern and post-chrisitan culture, it may not always be clear to us what jesus would do in every particular situation, but because god has gifted us with the holy spirit, we have the capacity to discern what it is we are to do, in harmony with the great and two-fold commandment that christ has given us, “to love god, and serve neighbor,” as therein is all the law and the prophets.

outreach in the postmodern context needs to be relational, incarnational, honest and just. it involves: sharing (without arrogance or proof texting) the story of what god has done and is doing in the world through jesus christ. embodying that story in how you live your life before god. accompanying others as they enter the story and journey to faith and discipleship, teaching new believers to observe the things, which the lord has commanded (rather than marketing the faith or trying to meet superficial “needs” ).

the heart of outreach in the postmodern context is embodying the faith, as st. francis said, “preach the gospel at all times, and if necessary, use words.” how you treat others… how tread upon the earth…how your conduct life… all speak volumes. the reason the message of the early church was heard is because they practiced what they preached. they cared for orphans, widows and all in need, and had love for one another that was obvious to the world.

outreach in the postmodern context will also mean hanging up the “bait and switch” and trying to lure people into becoming “members.” loving those who come to us with god’s own heart, means putting out to pasture our “head-counting” agendas. it will mean creating free and open space within our communities where the spirit can blow where it wills and where seekers can have the time and breathing room they need to explore the faith, try on the christian way of life, count the cost of discipleship, and discern for themselves if the way of christ will become their own way (or not).

out-reaching churches in the postmodern era will be confident, loving and brave enough to provide for the exit as well as the entrance of seekers. real doors are thresholds. a door with a way in, but with no way out, is not really a door, but a trap. the church is not in the business of trapping, but of flowing with the spirit as it moves in peoples’ lives. this kind of honest, relational, agenda-free and process oriented outreach is nothing new, as it was practiced by the early church.

for more grist read robert webber’s book “journey to jesus- the worship, evangelism, and future mission of the church.”

4) how would you define authentic worship?

authentic worship is god-directed, christ-centered, spirit-infused, heart-felt, biblical, just, communal, experiential, participatory and culturally accessible.

5) community is central for postmodern culture. how do you see “home groups” helping develop community – or do you?

i believe that nurturing small, cell-based communities is key to the well-being and mission of the 21st century church. in the case of many true emerging ethos churches, they will not just have home churches, they will become a “network of home churches.” it only makes sense, as human beings are by nature “pak” animals, and post-moderns especially are in tune with this, as we of the “friends generation” don’t make a seriuos move without our posse in tow!.

when people (especially when seeking, broken or hurting ) get lost in a huge herd they can suffer, but when they band together with a smaller intimate pak (even while still belonging to a larger herd) they can prosper… the same applies for the church. this is nothing new, its pretty book of acts… so we are kind of going “back to the future” by re-vamping this ancient christian pattern for use in the future christian church.

6) do you see denominations working together and closing the ‘we got it right” gap and working closer in the future? why or why not?

absolutely, and it’s about time. postmodern seekers are asking primary questions about life and meaning, like “who is god, and does god matter?” and “who am i, and do i matter? they are not asking about who is a presbyterian or non-denominational or pentecostal. not that our distinctive gifts don’t matter…they are the spice in the kingdom’s soup. the point is, in our pluralistic, postmodern and secular world, the only title that truly matters for all of us is christian,- that we really are, and that others can see christ in us.

once people hitch their lives to the reign of god, and give their hearts to christ, they can then wander around the kingdomspace to compare, ponder, evaluate and then decide whose play-room in god’s mansion they want to hang out in.

i’m pretty comfortable in my own lutheran room (as it has the best beer), but i put my ear to the wall in the pentecostal room, causes they have the kickin’ music, and I love to raid the adjoining anglican room when its sherry hour.

7) you have got to be one of the most creative people i have ever seen in a long time, what part does that creativity play in your planting a church?

a lot I hope. to me, the faith and the church are like jazz. there is a central theme (god in christ) and endless spirit driven variations that each person and gathered community brings. and its not really about my creativity, it is the creativity in the people who will together to make up the body. I see my role as being a talent scout, booking agent, curate and cheerleader of what god is doing among god’s people. i’ll spend my time hooking up and connecting the artists (god’s people), coaching theory and harmony, and scheduling practice times … i’ll help set up the regular weekly gigs, and occasionally blow the pitch pipe to keep everyone in tune. then I’ll sit back, dim the lights, relax and enjoy the kingdom jam.

any closing thoughts?

“the true measure of each human being is not in being superior to other human beings, but becoming superior to your former self.” for us christians, this means trusting in god’s mercy, doing justice, loving kindness, living joyfully, and growing into the full stature of god in christ.

each week we strive to offer a different person from the postmodern christian world answer seven questions. these questions are designed for no reason except to have fun and learn what is happening in the christian world with this generation. if you would like to be part of this community building activity, let us know. if you know of someone you would like to hear from, let us know. if you have questions you would liked to see answered by a certain person, let us know – this feature is designed for you, with you in mind.

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