Friday, 8 February 2008

Connecting With Our Postmodern Culture

I got this great quote from my mate Jeremy's blog:

This is a quote from Ravi Zacharias that has huge implications for evangelism in the emerging culture.

"We must learn to find the back door to people’s hearts because the front door is heavily guarded."


Paul's Thoughts said...

Hi Clive,

I’m trying to figure this quote out as it is short and metaphorical and linked to reaching a people influenced by postmodernism. The “front door” implies difficulty, resistance, a prepared defensive stance by the hearer/observer. The secular post-modern world idealises feelings, imagination and speculation, and rejects the absolute in favour of constructing your own meanings. In such a social climate, objectivity has been replaced with the catch cry of “tolerance”, as opposed to truth being absolute. For Christians the ‘front door’ of a postmodernist is characterised by a distrust of any ‘totalising’ discourses that have a grand framework to explain everything, including society, human agency, reality and so on. They are guarded because they embrace heterogeneity, difference, perpetual change, scepticism, and subscribe to notions as “might be true for you, but not for me”. The Christian has a “totalising” discourse, by claiming that the bible holds all the answers to the big questions. Perhaps in approaching the ‘front door’ of a persons heart, all the listener thinks is “your not very tolerant or accepting of my beliefs, it is arrogant to assume your worldview is better than mine, my heart is closed to you.”

Maybe in the ‘front door’ approach the Christian has failed to fill in the gaps inherent in the ‘mix and match’ post-modern mind. By gaps I mean that the unbeliever may have huge holes in their knowledge about Christianity. The ‘back-door’ approach understands and adapts to the secular nee-jerk reaction to outdated evangelistic methods, in order to communicate the gospel better. To quote Don Carson “In the past evangelism was rather like hanging washing on a clothesline that was already in place. In the past you could take texts like John 3:16 and hang them on the ‘line’ of Judeo-Christian worldview. The problem in trying to reach post-modern people is there is no clothesline. The great challenge before the preacher is to put up the clothesline” So, perhaps part of what entails the ‘back door’ approach is to find ways to gently go about the reconstruction of the clothesline. Postmodernist people, going by their fundamental assumptions, should be accepting and tolerant of different viewpoints, and therefore this should make it easier, not harder, to give such people an understanding of the gospel.

Interesting quote, but I’m still struggling a bit with what “front-door” and “back-door” actually represent.

J. said...

Too true - so many people carry hurts from the past that make it hard to 'get in'. Going in the 'back door' normally requires touching them in a way that shows you care - because it catches them unawares :-). Great method of evangelism that is too, especially in a culture that often sees Christians as hypocritical. Go in the 'back door' and they'll be surprised and more receptive - both on the personal level and on the spiritual level.