POSTMODERNS & Do They Have To Experience It – To Believe It? A Leadership Exercise.

by Bob Whitesel, D.Min., Ph.D., 11/2/15.

A student once remarked that is was difficult to get younger generations to give.  He stated, “I find the challenge today is to get the younger generations to also find the value of supporting the ministries of the church with tithes and offerings.  Longevity will also depend on this aspect of financial health.”

Here are my thoughts on this.

Regrettably, younger generations usually do not give until they have been touched themselves by the ministry of the church.  This is because Postmodern-influenced young people gain knowledge through experience.  Thus, telling them (via preaching, Bible studies, etc.) that tithing will help the needy will not affect them very much, until they have been needy and the church helped.  Thus, I often encourage less preaching on the topic of giving, and more fostering of giving experiences.

Postmoderns recognize the validity of knowledge, by experiencing it themselves. This is because they have heard the Boomers say something is good and to take the Boomers’ word on it.  Subsequently, Postmoderns (Postmodern Xers and Gen. Y) often want Boomers (and others) to prove what they say is true by helping them experience it.

A Leadership Exercise:

To begin your leadership exercise, share a story where an experience has helped you understand the validity of a Bible principle?

Here is an example. A student responded with a question.  He said, “Yes it’s makes sense.  Could you provide an example of “fostering giving opportunities” to make sure I’m clear on what you’re saying?  I appreciate it.”

Here are my thoughts that I replied to this student.  By “fostering of giving experiences” I mean having more local ministry to the needy, so people can be personally helped by the church and thus see its veracity and validity.  In many Postmoderns’ minds this local expression of concern substantiates a ministry.

For instance, if a church has a program to help people write their resume, or find a new job; a Postmodern might in turn be helped by this.  Subsequently, the PM might feel that giving to the church had a higher priority, for they have felt their needs met by the church directly.  This however, is not like  some Boomers who might selfishly want something before they give. PMs are very different.  They look out and see so many good giving opportunities, that before they give their hard-earned money away they want to know that our charitable programs really are really working.  In addition, it wouldn’t necessarily have to happen to a PM themselves.  They might witness a friend being helped.  The key in the PM mind is that the church acts locally so the veracity can be assessed, and globally so the world can be helped.  The PM will not just take a Boomer’s (or expert’s) word that a program is working and meets people’s needs.  They want to personally verify this, before giving to it.

Many churches today focus on compassion ministry far away.  Nothing wrong with this, it is just that local ministry is needed too.  And, local ministry will validate and explain what is going on “over there.”

Finally one last illustration.  Rather than preaching about how hard the missionary life is in the field, the PMer wants to experience it themselves. That is why short-term missionary programs can be so powerful.

My friend Elmer Towns quoted his seminary’s president as saying it this way: “The light that shines the furthest, shines the brightest at home.”

Now, to continue the leadership exercise, answer the following question: “Is your church shining its light bright enough at home?  If so, how? And, is that sufficient?  And if not, what will you do about it?”