Thursday, April 27, 2006

Postmodern Era And Leadership

As a response to my previous post on Postmodernity / Postmodernism, Yadah suggested an article around this subject. I found this article helpful and thought provoking, and I could really relate to it. The followings are some of the main points:

  • Postmodern era is really a time of profound change. It has been said that many leaders are finding it hard to engage postmodern culture because they have not understood the concept or the opportunities that it presents. Others have confused postmodernity as an intellectual movement and postmodern culture with its particular value set, like tolerance and moral relativity, and then tossed out the baby with the bathwater - although this is true to a certain extent, I know there are kingdom minded leaders (both in emerging church and in established church), who are making great efforts to engage the postmodern culture.
  • This chaotic and uncertain process leads to a neglect to re-evaluate one of the critical pieces in discovering new forms: leadership. While it is critical that we hold on to biblical values and purpose (function) it is equally important that we don't idolize the old forms. Forms change, the message remains the same - I agree that the old forms shouldn't be idolized. Although the gospel is always the same, the ways to share / express / preach it (forms) can change. In fact, I believe that the gospel has to be contextualised in the postmodern era in order to be relevant.
  • If we view the kingdom as transforming culture (a process that will only find its full expression and completion with the return of Jesus), then we are not only free to explore culturally relevant ways of expressing our faith, we are actually compelled to continually re-evaluate, re-imagine, and re-tell our story in ways that our listeners can understand and embrace - The kingdom is here but not yet, but it is certainly transformative, so I agree that we should explore culturally relevant ways of expressing our faith. Hence re-evaluation, re-imagination and re-telling stories should be encouraged. This is a time when the need for, and relevance of, the gospel has seldom been great, but the relevance of the Church in the West has seldom been less.
  • When cultures collide, as modernity and postmodernity are currently doing, those who find themselves caught in the collision can feel that their world no longer makes sense. Old paradigms collapse, and the frame of meaning is lost. Those who are meaning makers tend to be listeners and observers, and they join the process of communal searching and learn to ride the shock waves. They contextualize meaning and discover a new way of making sense of the new world. They arrive at a liminal place—a place between the two cultures where new possibilities arise - I certainly find myself amongst those who feel that the old and new paradigms of modernity and postmodernity confusing. I long to be one of the listeners and observers in order to arrive at a liminal place. The current credibility gap has made it hard to communicate the gospel with clarity and authenticity. Paradoxically, this is the case even though it is currently a time of almost unprecedented openness to the issues of God. At the moment, I am in between two worlds.
  • The challenge is clear: to effectively engage our culture while maintaining our biblical identity as the people of God, a people (community) on a journey. Our failure to do this, and to explore new ways of faithfully expressing the biblical call to discipleship (in both edification and evangelism as missional communities), will result in our becoming increasingly marginalized and irrelevant - I am committed to engaging our culture and exploring ways to discipleship in this postmodern era.
  • The role of leadership, as always, is critical. But the word no longer carries the meaning it once had. We need new metaphors, and we need to recognize the communal context of leadership and get beyond the confused entanglement of leadership and authority - This is hard, but essential I think.
  • we confront two critical challenges: how to address deep problems for which hierarchical leadership alone is insufficient and how to harness the intelligence and spirit of people at all levels of an organization to continually build and share knowledge. Our responses may lead us, ironically, to a future based on more ancient—and more natural—ways of organizing: communities of diverse and effective leaders who empower their organizations to learn with head, heart, and hand - I believe the inability to confront these two critical challenges are what cause the division between established mainstream church and emerging church in the Body of Christ. I agree that building and sharing knowledge is absolutely important, so is learning with head, heart, and hand.

Finally I am also keen to know how can the emerging church in a postmodern context learn from Paul about the establishment and growth of new faith communities. If you have any ideas, please feel free to drop me a comment or two.


Yadah said...

I was listening to Trinity Broadcasting Network one night (that's a Christian TV network here in the US and online around the world). The son of the founder of the network was hosting the evening show. Matt Crouch had George Barna as a guest. George was talking about the whole different thinking around church and it's effectiveness. Matt was asking very pertinent questions and George was giving very culturally clear answers. Basically, they came to the conclusion that church as it is really is a dying breed. If the church will meet this culture, it must change the way it operates. It was a clear discussion.

The funny thing is that when the interview came to a conclusion, Matt started talking to a pastor in another town. They were talking via sattelite with a split screen on the TV. It was hilarious, because the pastor was defending his "turf" like crazy. He thought that Barna was out of touch with what "he" (the pastor) was doing in "his" church. This pastor was demonstrating exactly what Matt and George had been discussing for the previous 15 minutes. It was amazing and I found myself wishing I'd had a tape of that show. The "modern" church folks have a really hard time with the paradigm shift that postmodernity brings.

Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

Not all writers accept the concept of postmodernity. Some prefer to talk about late modernity or advanced modernity.

There is still a strong modern infuence at work in society in many ways.

I do not view the kingdom as transformative. The Kingdom is not of the world and will always be in conflict with it.

I think the Gospel is something that the world cannot accept. Therefore to attempt to contextualize it is a mistake. The Gospel will always place the world in a position of condemnation.

The Gospel is its own self-defining context.

Every Blessing in Christ


Kc said...

Kitty my comment is too lengthy so I'll probably blog on this one soon. I'm sympathetic though. ;-)

Kitty Cheng said...

Yadah, what you heard on Trinity Broadcasting Network sounded very interesting, and challenging too.
I agree with the conclusion that if the church will meet this *postmodern* culture, it must change the way it operates. Having said that, I also think that this is a time of combination of both "modern" and "postmodern" cultures. The question / challenge is how can our church folks learn to face / adapt / embrace the paradigm shift that postmodernity brings? That is seriously a question I have been grappling with personally.

Kitty Cheng said...

Matthew, it's a fact that not all writers accept the term or concept of postmodernity. No matter what you call it(late modernity or advanced modernity), there is no doubt that this is a time of radical change.

There is also no doubt that modern infuence is still at work in society nowadays, but it is also true that there is more and more postmodern (or late modern / advance modern) influence in this day and age, and we simply could not ignore it if we were to engage in and to be relevant to this world.

If you see Jesus as Lord and King, you would believe that kingdom is transformative. It has been said that the words ‘kingdom’, ‘salvation’ and ‘eternal life’ are closely related.

The theme “kingdom of God” is rich and wide in its significance, covering many facets of God’s gracious working in the world and for His people. The proclamation of the kingdom of God was central to Jesus’ ministry. The kingdom is the core and essence of Jesus’ life and teaching, therefore it is certainly transformative.

I don't agree that the Gospel is something that the world cannot accept. It's not the Gospel that the world cannot accept, it's the way we present the gospel. Therefore to contextualize the Gospel is the way to make it relevant to the world.

Blessings to you!

Kitty Cheng said...

Kc, I am looking forward to your blog on it. Thanks for being sympathetic brother, cos me too!

Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

Kitty, I understand the Kingdom to be the government of God.

This is mediated through the Messiah, who establishes God's rule on the earth.

When we take the Biblical texts on the Kingdom at face value, we can see that the Kingdom is that which is prophesied in the Old Testament, the rule of Christ over the earth directly.

This Kingdom is intrinsically connected with the fulfillment of God's promises to Israel. Thus, Christ called Israel to repentance. Had they repented, Christ's kingdom would have been established over the whole earth two thousand years ago (though we understand that this was not in God's sovereign plan).

Hence, the Kingdom was suspended, but the mystery or spiritual aspects of the Kingdom was introduced. Thus, Gid presently reighns in believers and in the Church.

However, this is in fundamental opposition to the world. God is gathering a peculiar people out of the world.

On Christ's return the Kingdom will be established andf fulfilled.

This is the theological context in which I understand the Kingdom.

There is no hint in Scripture that we have any mandate to transform the world or Christianize it. No, for we are not of the world. We are in seated in heavenly places with Christ. We are only pilgrims here.

With regard to the Gospel, I find it very difficult to see how the rejection of the Gospel is down to how we present it.

Kitty, large numbers of people rejected the Gospel in Acts.

Why? Were the apostles and the early church presenting the Gospel in the wrong way?

Paul says the the preaching of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing. Is that because it is presented the wrong way or because the world cannot accept it even when it is presented correctly?

Every Blessing in Christ