Preaching to a Postmodern World

by Graham Johnston

Baker, 2001, Paperback

Preaching to a Postmodern World is the title of one of my favorite books that I read in 2002. The author, Graham Johnston, is an evangelical minister who serves as a senior pastor in Western Australia. In this insightful presentation for biblical communicators, Dr. Johnston told about an encounter he had with an unchurched man in his hometown of Perth, Western Australia. This thirty-something postmodern thinker reflected the prevailing sense of struggle for authenticity and truth represented in our culture today when asked the question, “Do you ever attend church?”

He simply replied, “Not really.”
“Do you ever wonder about spiritual matters?”
“Well, yes. Who doesn’t?”
“I framed the next logical question: `If you have questions about spiritual matters, don’t you feel that the church could address some of those issues?”
His response was interesting: “The church is for those who already believe, not for people like me.”
Did you get what he said? “The church is for those who already believe, not for people like me.”
Now how did he come to that kind of conclusion? How do we change misconceptions like that sentiment? As God’s people called the church, we need to be able to say to the world that the message of Christ is for everyone. We ought to say, “The church is for you, too. You can become a part of God’s family of faith.”
Just as international missionaries learn the language of the people and the customs of the society where they serve, we too must learn the language of today’s culture so that we can effectively and personally share the good news of Jesus Christ. In a true sense we must become missionaries for Christ in a confused and chaotic world hungering for truth. I John 3:16 (the other John 3:16) reminds us of this challenge: “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.”

Rick Lance