Over the past 3 months I’ve started reading 5 different books but haven’t finished any recently. I’ve decided to finish some of them before starting any new one. Last night I finished reading “No Perfect People Allowed” by John Burke. Two words… absolutely incredible!
This is a “must read” for anyone serving in or desiring to serve in a church intentionally reaching the Post-Modern community.
Four years ago I was on staff at a contemporary denominational church. It was a great church making an impact on our community, but I knew something was missing. My generation wasn’t there. I was in my mid-twenties and there was a significant gap between 18 and 30. Nearly all of my friends were people serving in the Children’s Ministry. They were about 10 years older than me and my wife and they had kids. We were completely missing this segment. It was then that I started to look and see what others were doing. This was also at the time that the seeker sensitive or seeker driven churches were on the rise. These churches had the rockin’ music and served Starbucks in the lobby. God forbid, you could even take your coffee into the “sanctuary.”
I remember the criticism. “These seeker churches are an inch deep and a mile wide.” Yeah, a lot of them were (and still are). I know I was confused as I wanted to serve at a place that didn’t compromise as a church but was doing something to reach “my” generation. Shortly after this I moved to Texas where I served a church that fit the “seeker” description. Although different from the denominational church, it wasn’t “shallow church” by any means. I was now in a church where my generation was at least represented (reaching my post-modern generation still wasn’t intentional). Honestly, ministry had become a lot more fun. However, I still probably couldn’t tell you exactly what the whole “seeker” thing was about. I knew it was about doing ministry in a socially relevant way and it was about building “authentic” relationships.
Sorry, getting to my point now. This book by John Burke is the very first clear description of what this whole “seeker” thig is about (or was originally intended to be). He was a Willow Creek (weren’t they the pioneers of this stuff?) guy and now pastors a church in Austin, TX. For the first time the lights have really come on for me. It’s obvious that the “seeker” movement is in full swing here in the US. But it really doesn’t have anything to do with music or the coffee. I think a lot of churches have jumped on this “seeker” bandwagon the way many churches added a “contemporary” service at 10:30 after their traditional service. Some of these churches have added all the seeker ministry “components” thinking that if they are more relaxed, more real with cooler music, then they are doing it right.
What I’ve learned from “No Perfect People Allowed” is that in order to reach the post-modern generation, it’s got to be your DNA. Like I said, it has nothing to do with adding “seeker” components, its either who you are or who you aren’t. Ministry to post mods can be really messy. It’s really messy because life for post mods is messy. It’s a generation bound by alcohol, drugs, cohabitation, homosexuality, religious ambiguity and so much more. Reaching this generation is going to take intentional efforts to connect with them as it’s unlikely they’ll just show up at your front door. Truly, it’s about contextualizing the gospel into a message that makes sense to a generation that doesn’t really understand what this “Jesus thing” is all about.
By no means is this book pointing fingers at how others aren’t reaching this generation, it’s the story of Gateway church as they’ve seen incredible success at reaching those who belong to the Post Modern generation. If you’re like me, you’re heart will skip a beat over and over as you read about people’s lives being changed in a highly relevant way. It’s definitely challenged me and will go down as one of the best books I’ve read this decade.
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