A couple of years ago, the Womenary Study was Worldview and World Religions. At that time, I was introduced to the concepts of modernity and postmodernity. I have since struggled somewhat with these ideas, how they affect my life and who I am. If I understand them at all, Modern thinking is scientific, reasoned, orderly, structured, analytical, formal. The truth is important and foundations immovable. Postmodern thinking, on the other hand, is organic, flexible, relative, changeable, unpredictable, sensory and causal. It is filled with possibilities and not beset with principles. Recently, I was paired with some younger church members on a committee charged with making some recommendation for our church concerning communication and education. I felt like a alien being...something out of its time and place. The way I approached the issues seemed out of step, old school, maybe even unspiritual from their perspective.
It set me thinking about my thinking style. I was born when Modernity was in fashion and have lived through its demise. I was raised when everything had its place and the best of all worlds was when everything was in its place. Our churches were special set-apart places to which we went on set-apart days, wearing our set-apart clothes. Sunday Morning was Bible Study and Preaching. Sunday night was dedicated to training in church administration and to expositional studies from the pastor. Tuesday was all about missionary work. Wednesday night was set aside for prayer and visitation. Everything was age graded and gender specific. We did not separate out single people. The single men were included in Men's classes or downtown Men's Bible studies. The single ladies did not feel out of place in Women's Sunday School classes. I will admit that though structurally comprehensive, these plans were not always well implemented or sincerely performed, but they did cover the bases. For whatever reason, somewhere in the 1960's and 70's, the organized and orderly was abandoned. Almost every denomination has since thrown out structure and moved toward elasticity, spirituality, fluidity and flexibility. I have to admit that though I respond best to Modern methods, the organized approach brought me only foundational learning, not a living faith. Christ would haunt my life but not become real to me until my late twenties.
That being said, however, I am still much more comfortable with structure, programs, organized efforts, campaigns, and pre-planned curriculum. I am ill at ease with the more organic, random, heartfelt, peer led, culture specific activities of today. The emphasis on being spirit led often stops me in my tracks. If I am thinking through a problem with reasoning, am I depending on myself and excluding God? What happens when one Christian hears God differently than another? How do we get to the bottom line of what is the issue and even more importantly, how do we come to solutions we can all support?
I am still in the process of wrestling with my way of thinking as I contemplate that progress in spiritual maturity is not in the process but in the focus, that God is not stymied by a method of thinking. He who can turn water into wine can meld the modern with the postmodern and produce healthy solutions for the challenges that face the church. I am happy to say that our little committee did make progress and find agreement. I am still Modern in my approach to life but I have a new appreciation for the Postmodern generation and their more freewheeling ideas. I discovered that in Christ we can become likeminded, finding our encouragement in Him, our comfort from His love, and our community in participating in His Spirit (Phil. 2:1-1) regardless ofour style of thinking. In Christ, all barriers are broken down even the one between the Modern and the Postmodern thinking.