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Postmoderns extremely receptive to the gospel, says evangelism head

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (BP)–In an age when truth is relative and the end justifies the means, people are searching for something that transcends the “cultural free-for-all” called postmodernism, says Ray Jones, personal evangelism specialist at the North American Mission Board.

“Postmoderns are the easiest people on the planet to witness to,” Jones said. “Don’t believe the media stereotype. They’re not hostile.”

Postmodernism, a term coined near the end of the 20th century, is an ideology built on the premise that there is no absolute standard of truth which applies to all people for all time.

“Experience in postmodernism has been elevated to the level of a god,” Jones said.

Consequently, Jones said, postmoderns, or people who hold this belief system, have never been more open to listen to someone share how his or her life has been radically changed through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

Jones led a seminar on “Reaching the Postmodern Mind” during “Legacy 2000,” an evangelism and church planting conference cosponsored by NAMB and Bellevue Baptist Church, Memphis, Tenn., in October.

He illustrated the effects of postmodernism by describing a woman he once counseled who said she believed Jesus’ claims in John 14:6 that he is the only way to heaven, while also believing that there are multiple means of securing eternal life.

“We’ve got people who are creating their own religion,” Jones said. “They will say with their mouths what they believe and contradict it with the next sentence.”

Jones described the postmodern era as much more like the first century than the 20th century. He cited the testimony of the apostle Paul before governmental leaders and the woman who met Jesus at the well as examples where the power of one’s story of a personal encounter with Christ was extremely effective.

That’s why, Jones said, NAMB launched an evangelism strategy earlier this year, called “The Net,” designed to equip Christians to effectively share their faith to postmoderns in a conversational and culturally relevant manner.

“The greatest apologetic of all of Christianity is a changed life,” Jones said. “It is the truths of God that make our experience legitimate.”

“The Net” focuses on sharing the gospel through a Christian’s personal testimony or story of the difference Christ has made in their life. With “The Net,” minimal Scripture memorization is required because the presentation is driven by one’s personal testimony.

“They won’t argue with your story,” Jones said. “They won’t debate it. They may not always agree with it, but they will not debate it.”

But effectively reaching postmoderns with the truth of the gospel, Jones said, will occur only if Christians personally invest their lives in those left empty by the materialism of the 20th century.

“They want to know that you’re the real deal,” Jones said of the postmodern. “They want to know that you’re not just after them as an evangelistic headhunter. If they see you’re real and you’re authentic, that grabs postmoderns’ minds because nothing in this world to them is authentic.”

Jones said postmoderns are more responsive to a Christian witness when they realize the person sincerely cares for them. “Reaching postmoderns is sometimes a process, not an event,” he said.

“Relationships are huge to postmoderns,” Jones said. “If you can develop and cultivate relationships, you’re going to go a long way to being really able to reach postmoderns.”

But Jones warned that Christians should be careful when building relationships not to forget evangelism. “The goal of connecting relationally is to bring them in the kingdom,” Jones said. “All evangelism is confrontational. At some point in time the person has to be confronted with the claims of Christ to receive him or reject him.”

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  • Lee Weeks