We’ve all heard, to some degree I am sure, about this so-called “Culture Shift” that has happened in the Western World. But for the average Midwesterner it’s something that happened on the two coastal poles (New York and California). It’s something they talk about in D.C. and in “Academia,” but not something that has any impact on the Average Joe. Such ignorance, however, reflects just how smoothly the shift happened.
The culture shift reflects largely an entire worldview alteration away from the empirical, scientific, modernistic, mindset of the 19th and 20th century to a world thriving on experience, openness, freedom, and subjectivity. The Scientific Method is no longer the source of all “truth,” rather personal experience allows for multiple views of “truth” and very little room for “facts” (because, after all, in this new mindset there is a difference). This shift is most clearly seen in the works of Hollywood and Washington, in the major Universities, and the pop-philosophers of the culture, but why bring it up in relation to small towns like Portsmouth, OH? The answer might surprise you.
The reality is that this new thought process, worldview, mindset (whatever you want to call it) is present in small towns all across America. The Shift may have happened at the national level, but when the shift hit the fan of pop-culture it was blown into homes and hearts all across America. Small-towners watching television, listening to the radio, syncing their iPods, and surfing the web have received all sorts of messages about the subjectivity of truth and the intolerance of “facts.” Some people call it “Postmodernism,” nobody has any clue what that word means, but whatever it is it’s in Portsmouth, Ohio too.
What this means for ministry is constantly being debated, but several things are certain about how Revolution is going to react to it. (1) We aren’t going to water down the “facts” of the gospel. As Matt pointed out in his post yesterday, we are committed to the truths of Scripture (even where they offend and turn people away). “Postmoderns” may like more subjective answers but the Bible is our confident source of facts and truth and it is not subjective fluff. (2) It also means that we are willing to recognize that Christendome is dead (if was ever alive in America). The misguided belief that everyone has a Christian worldview, that everyone raised in the church knows the gospel, and that everyone thinks the same things when they hear the words “God,” “Jesus,” “Faith,” or “Christian” will not be found among us. We know that the world is different and ministry, evangelism, and Christianity, is harder than some have painted it. It will take work and heart! (3) We also realize that “Postmoderns” are not evil people. Despite what some Christian authors have said, we don’t believe that the way the church survives is by avoiding the postmodern “conversation.” We must love people, and love them enough to interact with them where they are at, involve ourselves in their world (to the degree that we don’t sin in so doing), and use their stories and analogies to teach them the gospel truths.
Portsmouth isn’t a “one-size-fits-all” city. We’ve got a mix of people here from all over the “worldview map,” and ministering to our community will take open ears and open hearts. And we will need to reach farmers, and business men, young men and old men, single girls and married wives, folks raised in the church, folks raised in the bar, and yes even Postmoderns. Join us as we go on mission with Jesus this August 31st to reach our diverse city!