Adults: Prepare to Do Postmodern Missions

We live in a postmodern world. You probably already knew that, but you might be wondering what it has to do with missions.

Postmodernists don’t believe in absolute truths. They believe everything is relative and shaped by the cultural context of a particular time and place. So when you share the gospel with postmodernists, you may get rebuffed, because what is the truth for you is not truth for them.

Don’t give up. Adapt.

First, let go of assumptions you may have about postmodernists:

  • They have a felt need for God. (Many don’t think about Him.)
  • They fear death. (They don’t believe in an afterlife.)
  • They are hopeless. (Most are quite satisfied with life.)
  • They will come to Christ fast once you introduce them to Him. (Most need the environment of a relationship with a Christian to progress toward a relationship with Christ. You must be willing to make a lifetime investment in people.)

Then, remember what Christians are called to do: make disciples. A disciple is a learner, and discipleship is a process of becoming more like Christ. Discipleship has at least four interpenetrating dimensions:

  1. morals—instilling Christian behavior
  2. teaching—providing the tools of basic theology and a familiarity with the Bible to shape the mind
  3. spiritual formation—nourishing the connection to God with spiritual practices, beginning with worship, prayer, and devotional Bible reading
  4. language—learning the stories and conceptual categories developed in the Christian tradition to give “a peculiarly Christian way of thinking, a set of moral examples, and a frame in which to situate . . . life—in short, a worldview”1

Next, move beyond the niche of the “God people” and step into the world around you to make disciples. Start by finding out what is going on in your city and joining in—take a class, join a club, etc. This allows you to get to know people in context so you can have meaningful conversations. You may be uncomfortable. But you don’t have to do it alone. Go out in pairs or groups. Support each other. Follow the example of Jesus, Who modeled the uncomfortable life (Phil. 2:5–8). And be sure to put on the armor of God (Eph. 6:10–18).

Above all, be genuine, especially about your struggles and how your Christian worldview and community help you. Answer questions wisely and lovingly.

Ultimately, create opportunities to share the love of Christ. The best ways to do that are to pique curiosity, connect God to real time, and tell stories that matter to people.

Adapted from “Postmodern Missions 101,” Missions Mosaic (June 2016).

1Heath White, Postmodernism 101 (Grand Rapids, MI: Brazos Press, 2006), 78.

Kathleen Penton is an assistant editor for the Adult Resource Team, national WMU.





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