1. We ask this question of everyone, and the (diversity) in the answers (is) wonderful – how would you define the “postmodern movement?”
I define the postmodern movement by what it has caused to happen rather than trying to describe it. Postmodernism seems to have caused three things to happen. We live in a time in which speed is more than cool, it is everything. To move slowly and deliberately at this point in history is so (devastating) that things like strategic planning (are) replaced by strategic mapping. This has caused everything to be set on blur and flux. Because of the speed nothing is as clear as it used to be, I mean nothing. Instead of looking for answers, the world is grappling with a new set of questions. As a result, everything is in flux from day to day. Flexibility, without losing ones spiritual equilibrium is essential.
2. Leadership is very important for the future church. (What) do you see as the four most important qualities of a leader in the 21st (century) church, and why?
I think there are two very essential qualities in a leader for the 21st century, both of which define the leader’s character and authenticity. Foremost, is a commitment to a call bigger than one’s own life. This call to serve is more important than life, family, or even health. The day of the career oriented leader is over. Second, leaders are passionate about Jesus and flexible on everything else. When you put these two qualities together, the result is a very passionate leader.
3. With “old line” denominations jumping on the church planting wagon, what do you see as the future for the older urban churches?
I don’t separate the fate of the older urban churches from that of the rest of the established, “old line” denominations. I think the day of denominations in general is coming to an end. They will be with us, but who will notice much longer. My guess is that less than 25% of the existing denominations will survive the next twenty-five years.
4. Most postmodern people see the church as “money hungry.” What do you see as ways of getting the postmodern person to see the importance of giving, without making it seem to be the center of the church?
Postmoderns will give only because they have found a home in the Body of Christ and are head over heels in love with Jesus. Stewardship drives will be replaced by biblical teaching in the early stages of Christian formation. I have always contended that discipled people always give and give well. So the focus should be on discipleship and the money will take care of itself.
5. Traditional churches and “old line” denomination systems “choke” people with a postmodern mindset, what do you see both sides can do to achieve a balance?
I don’t see (any way) to achieve a balance any more than I believe oil and water can stay mixed. I compare organizations to organisms and machines. One of my favorite metaphors for thriving churches is “spiritual redwoods.” I then compare the redwood to a machine. Then I say, “You can’t morph an organism into a machine.” Postmoderns won’t waste their time with the organizational nonsense of Modernity. They don’t want to plan worship or ministry, they want to do it. This question begs me to return to (a) previous question. Putting people on committees seldom grows spiritual giants who give well of their financial resources; whereas equipping people for ministry almost always results in more spiritually mature people who give generously.
6. What do you see is the role “old line” (denominations) will play in the 21st (century)?
At best a back seat. At worse, (they) won’t have a role to play. Unless, they begin to make radical, and I do mean radical changes really soon, and I don’t yet see that happening. Most are still trying feverishly to rearrange the deck chairs on the Titanic. If it weren’t so serious it would remind me of an Abbot and Costello movie.
7. What do you believe traditional churches can do to reach out to a postmodern people?
They have to begin by putting mission before methodology, doctrine, or denominational polity. I am beginning to see more and more churches doing this. They are focusing on separating what is culturally relevant from what is biblically eternal. They are willing to change anything that is culturally relevant while keeping close to the biblical mandates such as making disciples, being a witness to Jesus Christ, and developing a loving, spiritual community.
Perhaps the best thing they can do is to develop a postmodern church within the modern church. Give them space and time to grow and mature without imposing their cultural mores on them. Holding them to biblical principles and mandates, but allowing them to run free and follow the Spirit wherever it takes them.