Friday, October 20, 2006

I thought this was interesting

The Danger of Postmodernism
Making the Gospel about Us

by Esther Jing-Hua Wu

In an attempt to be culturally relevant and seeker friendly, the youth ministry team asked our youth worship band to play songs from Lifehouse, Linkin Park, Creed, and other popular bands. We thought we were being delightfully postmodern and experiential, not to mention, cool. "What a great way to spread the gospel!" we thought. "Use songs that are popular with teens, whose lyrics allude to a spiritual theme to draw them into worship—perfect." We were convinced that our kids would experience God more powerfully in this new, nontraditional worship environment.

It turns out that our students dreaded singing these songs. They complained that the songs weren't worshipful and insisted that they couldn't connect with God through them.

When I asked the youth band to go back to the contemporary praise and worship choruses typical of the adult service, the transformation amazed me. The songs that proclaimed God's holiness and character where the ones that drew our kids into the presence of the holy. What is it about repeatedly singing "You are holy" that draws a postmodern teen into the presence of Christ?

Our students are hungry for spiritual food that will satisfy. They're hungry for what's real in Jesus Christ. The danger of postmodern Christianity is that we become so focused on making God culturally relevant, hip, cool, and fun, that we run the risk of making the gospel about us—our experiences, our relationships, our needs, our worship preferences, our lives. When this happens we lose our awe of God's holiness. If we spend so much time relating to God as personal friend, we lose sight of the holiness of the God who inspires fear, wonder, worship, and beauty all at once. When that happens, our proclamation of the gospel tips dangerously towards self-centeredness and our experience of God; and the way we want to connect with the holy becomes more important than God himself.

The postmodern emphasis on experience, presentation, and narrative has enhanced our faith richly in many ways. However, experience and narrative are by no means the beginning or ending points of our faith in Christ. God's holiness is. Of course, we'll experience God in tangible ways that shape our lives and increase our Christ-likeness tremendously, but our experience is ultimately not the anchor of our faith.

We can never create an experience of God's holiness, because that's something that comes from revelation. God alone makes this revelation possible. How can we pursue God's holiness practically? Today's church should bolster her understanding of God's holiness. We're in danger of making the experience, new language, multimedia presentations, or liturgy the centerpiece of our faith. And the result is an experience-based faith instead of one that is holiness-based. Ultimately, this kind of faith will crumble. Our calling as followers of Jesus is to ground our faith in his God-ness, which rests outside our experience. In terms of youth ministry, we should be careful not to overemphasize the experience of church to our students, while inadvertently de-emphasizing God's holiness.


Esther Jing-Hua Wu is the youth pastor at Vineyard Christian Fellowship of the Peninsula in Palo Alto, Calif.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Sick and Behind

There is nothing worse than being sick and getting behind. I had the privelage of getting the stomach flu and having to miss three days of life!!! Whenever I get sick I always think "why do we get sick!!??" It is never fun to be sick. I think something can be learned from being down and out though. I am learning that I need to run to him no matter how bad I feel. Over the course of my life I have fallen in the habit of watching a rediculous amount of t.v. when I am not feeling good. And every single stinking time I think I feel worse when I do. After a couple of days of being bored out of my mind I decided to turn the dirty thing off. Finally, I was able to rest and actually slept better. Go figure. But really though, God wants us no matter how we are feeling. I can respect that. :)

thank you Lord for your healing.