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March 09, 2005 

Back up just a bit

There has been tons of conversations about this within my circle of people. My hope is that the circle will expand. I'm not sure how to handle all of this, but I am sure I will learn as we go. I'm trying to migrate. So in this first post, I will include notes from the discussions that we had as a "thinktank" and we'll go from there...

...Notes from the ChOG Postmodern Thinktank January 4, 2005

Mike, Steve, Dave, Ken, and Randy.

There was no order, or agenda in this meeting. We just went for it and this is what came of it…

Things are changing. Harvey Carey said it used to be cool to be pizza and pop youth pastor. If you still are, shame on you. Let’s be different. “Youth Group Leaders”…no more.

Cars & Trees: Cars are made for one purpose. Only can be driven. It can be repaired, but it is nothing else than a car. It’s like the church is trying to nail ’57 Chevy parts to a tree.

At 14years old 9% of people decide to follow Christ. It goes down 50% each after that. Why are they leaving the church?

Steve’s Grandma’s life was about God and God was life, and church was a big part of it. Now life is about Church and Church is life, and God is sometimes in it.

The church has idea arthritis/ analysis paralysis.

Learning now has to happen with, or through experience. Spiritual experience.

The Grand analogy we went with: The Upper Peninsula and the Lower Peninsula of Michigan. We must be guides to the U.P. We need to be missionaries to both modern and postmodern cultures. Both Trolls and Yoopers. You hear stories about the northland. That it’s a place of backward woodsmen and Eskimos. “Is this the world famous Sody dear camp?” [Escanaba In Da Moonlight]. It’s not all weird. Steve discovered on a mission trip to Escanaba that there was in fact western civilization there. Wal-Mart, movies, restaurants. The people spoke English. It’s not all different or Martian. Ken said that he has heard stories about the great hunting and fishing. So he’s visited, but not interested in living there. But every time he goes he likes it more. So how can we get people to cross? Randy thinks it’s ok that not everyone crosses. But wants to see us at a place that being a Yooper and a Troll is ok for both sides. So what percentage of the church should cross? Most, more than not? Yes.

...Postmodern Thinktank February 21, 2005

Present: [I am including this, so that if someone who wasn’t there has some questions they can contact one of us that was there. If this is too Modern then I won’t do this again.] Dave, Ken, Mike, Nate, Tim and Randy

Randy and Mike started out with a thought from a conversation the day before the meeting. Most of us in this room, except Ken are sitting on the middle of the Mackinac Bridge, wondering where to go next. We know that we don’t like modernism in the church, but we don’t know totally what postmodernism looks like either, or more importantly how to live it out. We are more apt to recognized it when we see it.

We worked a lot on finding the language we need to express what we are seeing. Because we may say something that a modern would say, but mean two totally different things. This may require moderns and postmoderns to go see and experience the same things, then talk about it.

Some suggested books on postmodernism or new things happening in church: The Present Future by Reggie McNeil, The End of the World as We Know it by Schmitt, Emergent Worship by Dan Kimball, Emergent Culture by Dan Kimball, Postmodern Youth Ministry by Tony Jones, Anything by Brian McClearn, Relevant Books from Relevant Media Group, find some of these titles in the YS Emergent section at Christian bookstore.

Ethos was mentioned…the experience of a place or a community. This is something that may be indefinable, at least a blanket definition. As many cities and communities in the U.P. as there are, there are that many different kinds of examples of postmodernism. Len Sweet suggests in his book “Becoming Epic” that there are four elements that are in Ethos: Experiential, Participatory, Imagery, and Connective. One may dominate a given lesson, event, etc. or they may all be employed. So if you are looking for some teaching or event helps, there you go. Throw some of those things in there this Sunday or Wednesday!

Is a problem that postmoderns have with the modern church a value discrepancy or the expression of those values? Certainly postmoderns will not share all the values of moderns and vice versa, but there is a definite difference in the expression. Dave brought up the fact that one of his church’s core values is excellence. Who would argue that we should not give God our best shot, for his glory? But he sees the expression of the value as a crisp Sunday service, suits and ties, and “Pew Buddies.” Tim interjected that in many ways, if not all, the postmodern churches are out shining modern churches on all ways to be excellent. Why? Because those involved are connected to each other, and to God, and the church is seeing that connectedness being lived out. Many times the worship time is a shared planning experience. They lock themselves in a room and come out with lots of creative ideas.

Another help in defining… “BC” or “AC”? Was a person born Before Computers or After Computers. There are also immigrants or natives. To bring it back to the opening thought, we are trying to immigrate to the UP. It was decided that we defiantly need a “native” of the new world to join our plight. We have Ken who is a modern, willing to learn and discuss. We need a Upper, eh? So then with that thought, it doesn’t have to do with age necessarily.

The church is headed for death in 20 years. The world changes much more rapidly now than it has since the first 7 days, we, the church have to adapt quickly. We can no longer be behind the times, we have to be in the future, because the present is disappearing. I wonder if some of that feverish pace will slow, so that we can truly experience “the now?” That remains to be seen. Pick the age of your youngest modern. Randy said he has some moderns in the youth ministry. But will they migrate to the UP once they go to college or move out? That also remains to be seen.

Motivation for Randy is calling from God. God has told him to help the church transition 3 years ago and he has been waiting for actions to take. Thus, we are conversing. How’s this one for ya: this discussion or discussions like this are a tour or a trip to discover the UP. It’s a safari to see the where the wild things live.

Tim expressed some hardships about “coming out” as a postmodern. Jeans at church, living some postmodern values in ministry. He gets what sounds like severe flak every Sunday. He is discouraged by this, duh!?

Tim and Nate talked about that it’s difficult to lead from the middle. From where we are in ministry. Unless the people in authority are willing to change, or let us change the way that we do ministry, nothing will happen. But Ken interjected that we ARE having an impact. We ARE making a difference in the transition. Randy then told a story about how his professor of Philosophy at Anderson, Willard Reed, makes everyone apologize for missing class. No excuses, just this statement: “I apologize for missing class, and depriving you of my contribution. “But Reed, what if my wife and two kids died!?” “Apologize then, sit down and shut up Johnston” That is where Reed references the “Theory of The Butterfly Effect.” Just by someone sleeping in class they make an impact on the class, thus changing the class immeasurably. [So shut up and keep doing what we’re doing ‘cause we are making and impact on the church.]

We will be throwing out dates to go to Westwinds Church in Jackson.
www.westwinds.org Check it out.


I am glad you got it going!

Every time I cross this dang bridge - the UP landscape changes! Where are you guys?

Thanks for the invite, Randy. Looking forward to the ride. Sorry it took so long for me to find my keys.

Randy, thanks for posting the original "post" again for us to re-read. The conversation is still important! In fact it may be as important as ever! Speaking from inside the "modern Michigan bubble" postmoderns got tagged with a "label" and perhaps marginalized again but it doesn't mean the conversation is irrelevant. There are numerous examples outside the church of God where congregations have morphed and developed relevant, life changing, ministry. they have migrated to the U P and made it happen.

Let me say one more thing. You are talking about deep change and deep change is scary. I am going through probably one of the deepest change I have ever gone through in moving to Western Canada. I have more questions than answers. In fact the same old personal paridigms are being challenged so you can expect alot of push back from the modern church. Guys, I should have "backed" you more. I should have given you a great voice than I did. I am not sure why I didn't. Can anyone help me with that?

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