My notes from presentations by George Barna, M. Rex Miller, and Erwin McManus

Developing Leaders in a Postmodern Culture

Notes from George Barna

in existentialism or naturalism: there is no God

Postmodern culture:
– idea there is no such thing as absolute truth
– it is fine for you to believe there is a God, but not ok for you to tell it to someone else
– it is ok for you to have faith, but there is not single right faith
– part of your life adventure / discovery process

relationships are essential in a postmodern context
– fulfilling life is centered around relationships
– they tend to be group oriented, rather than one on one
– your tribe is signficant for you because it is your surrogate family
– things such as marraige are appreciated but not viewed as requirements
– divorce is not seen as a negative, just as a necessary right of passage from one set of relationships to another

people come to appreciate ambiguity in a postmodern perspective

your participation in something gives it value in a postmodern context
– it is all about participation

there are no objective facts, no truth in postmodern context

authority is a big issue
– is only valid if invited or earned, cannot be imposed

impact of postmoderns on our institutions
– impacts on policies: you are not a legitimate instituion unless you tolerate everyone doing everything
– you are supposed to tolerate everything except intolerance
– diversity is seen as a value
– must give people behavioral choices: you just want to provide menus and let people choose their own path
– language: politically correct movement, toward inclusive language (has positives with respect)
— language is important because it defines and distorts reality

Postmodernism also embraces condtradictions
– working in postmodern culture with postmodern thinkers who lead a postmodern lifestyle

— people want vision and process from leaders, but they also want to be allowed to go their own way
— they want connections without consequences, but still want certain results at the end
— postmodern leaders are evaluated on their ability to generate results, but…

leaders are supposed to demonstrate strength and authenticity by showing weakness

public is attracted to spirituality, but not necessarily to the exclusive truth claims of Christianity

ministry to postmoderns is less about our exercising power as it is about partnership

postmoderns are nonlinearthinkers, moderns are linear thinkers
– need to think about communicating in that context

Suggestions to keep in mind:
– human perspectives change regularly, God never changes
– first thing Jesus always did was ask questions, to find out where people were coming from
– modern leaders tend to motivate by persuasion, personality, etc
– postmodern leader listens, confesses, dreams with people: motivation remains a key part leadership

rather than mobilizing people around tasks, you mobilize people around a team (people driven) who come together around a common vision
– rather than identifying specific steps to accomplish, we negotiate people’s participation in a vision (don’t necessarily dictate the path)
– postmodern leader gives suggested resources, rather than mandating them

my thought: so postmodern is less authoritarian, top-down

we must remain true to God who does not change
– go back to the non-negotiables, we are Christians first, leaders 2nd
– we want to have an unwavering focus on God’s vision (not what the culture says)
– incite participation, de-emphasize the individual in favor of the team
– more important to emphasize character development over corporate conquests

being the church is must more important than building the church
– Jesus didn’t die on the cross to fill or build auditoriams
– commniicate the truth through stories and dialog
— how we convey it is critical

communicate our personal brokenness so people can relate to us, and we can relate to them

we need to relax a bit and not be so uptight: the journey is more important than reaching the destination
– in God’s perfect timing things can happen
– involving people throughout the journey is key, orchestrating their personal expression
– efficiency sells to builders and boomers: but not to postmodern
— reality is: great ministry is never efficient

– accept messiness as a mark of authenticiy

THAT IS A GREAT IDEA (my thought: think about the schedule of Jesus)

Book by Rex Miller: “Millineum Matrix”
– studied communications and theology 30 years ago to understand changes in culture

Rex’s definition of postmodernism:
– the observation that there is more than meets the eye
– go back to when Heisenberg and Einstein opened up the hood of the atom, that ripple effect has gone through art, literature, all the disciplines
– will use different structure: understanding shifting communication mediums

Rex will give us a decoder key for understanding why someone decided to write about postmodernism
– there have been shifts taking place, these are knowable, and understanding past and current shifts can help us predict future shifts

When our perceptions of the world change, our worldview changes
– our perceptions change when the tools of our communiication change
– changed perceptions change our perceptions of the world, rewires our brain

MY THOUGHT: verify this will Bill

right side of the brain is for broadcast TV, when you read it is the left side of your brain
– this changes relationships, so we build new organizations and instutitions to support those relationships

now lets llok at communication and dominant communi

1st: oral tradition
– litergical tradition

Protestant churches
– print culture, modern worldview

Celebration churches:
– broadcast culture, postmodern worldview

Convergence churches:
– interactive/digital, interconnected worldview
– organizations seeing themselves as more connected than separate

now let’s go thorugh 2000 years of transition, first in art

Different cultures:

oral: dynamic, open ended, ephemeral, intimate, now
print: linear, sequential, parmanent, abstract, historical
broadcast: fluid, fragmented, transitory, vicarious, future
digital: interactive, linked, iterative, virtual, future-perfect

In art:
– oral orld: symbolic representation, heaven and earth interconnected
– reinaissance culture: perspective, dramatic shift in how reality was represented, a rational worldview, visual truth (where oral culture was spiritual truth)
– contemporary culture: Picasso Madonna and Child (conceptual)
— idea is: there is more than meets the eye, we must deconstruct the mindset to get at something more at a gut level
— Picasso goal was not to rationally consider/analyze the image
– digital interactive culture: live image, blurring of categories, convergence of race, elements of remixing old themes with new and making them current
— are many similaries in digital culture with the oral culture
— computer games are ritual reinactments

skipped music

now to architecture
– oral: form is the metaphor
– renaissance: form follows function in protestant church
– broadcast: form becomes a platform to conveny image and brand
– digital: architecture beecomes more of a flexible backdrop

Gospel has changed its expression over time
– oral: through divine reinactments, a cosmic drama, you becaome one of the participants
– reinaissance: retelling of the events
– broadcast: a reselling, persuasion, the consequences
– digital interactive: remixing, old themes and new themes, a real convergence of ways of expressing the gospel

– oral: truth was relational, message was inseparably connected to the messenger
– print: focus is on the content of the message, propositional characteristics
– broadcast: relevance of message comes from the perspective of the listener
– interactive/digital: the dialog, ongoing conversation, the way people connect and relate to the truth

in the book Rex takes a 100 categories like this and breaks this out, differences in sensibilities between these cultures

leaders in these different traditions:
– oral: leader was a holy man, reprsent
– printed: reliable expert, theologian
– broadcast: the engaging personality
– interactive/digital: a colaborative catalyst

Now wil focus on digital/interactive culture, the emerging medium, 7 qualities that will define organizations in the future

1- interactive nature of digital communication
— pasters must realize: now they are speaking to audiences that can speak back
2- connected nature
– creates complexity
3- accelearating change, feedback loop
4- the intangible will supercede the tangible: more important than building
5- convergence of categories, boundaries and relationships
— immediacy, we live in the tempo of now, space between desire and fulfillment is continually compressed
— unpredictablity: incrased voatitlity ,dislocation, and unintended consequences

the rules do change overnight in this new world
– so how do you deal with that, and prepare for that

Metaphor for understanding all this: when we build supertankers, we consider the seas they sail in
– tankers for caribbean are different from north atlantic (north atlantic are 1/3 as small and are much more expensive, but can handle rough conditions)

What Rex considers to be some of the shifting trends (megatrends for leaders)

1- become significant to a few, rather than marginal to many
— broadcast makes you accessible to many, but people don’t want to be in a foster care system, the world wants to be adopted

2- shift to sustainable growth rather than fast growth
— we are now seening many of the unintended consequences of fast growth: churn, etc if you exceed 15% annual growth

3- embedded Chrstianity, reconnecting to neighborhoods
— now we can unplug from the office, connect with others
— in past we have driven people to the church: how can we help people get reconnected to local neighborhoods

4- redefining the local church as the network of local congregations
– people see themselves as nodes in a greater network, not just separate, autonomus
– world will know the father when they see the church as one
– be effective cross–functionally
– the people who have the common interests to solve the problems of the community are what matter: barriers should come down, no one church can solve them

5- convergences: community, church, charity, commerce
— read wired magazine this month on commerce: build networks within the community

6- skipped willful and global

7- blur between professional and clergy in leadership
– if you are not in clergy today, you probably could be
– when everything funnels up to Sunday, it can’t work: have to release and
– Army has concept” the army of one, can make decisions at the front end on the battlefield

web environments: very important to consider
– is not a billboard, a brocure calendar, diretory, for annocements

power of the web is : connection, conversation, collaboratioin

WalMart has created a website because of all the negative publicity they are getting
– the web is not about the packaged story, it is about the unfiltered truth: this is what people want
– Walmart is doing this defensively, but this should be part of our DNA

Narrative and preaching
– change to storytelling: the realities are becoming so complex they can be communicated more effectively through storytelling rather than propositional lecture
– Garrison Keeler is great example: not anecdotal, but carries the great themes of our lives together

we have seen people write mission statements, then purpose statements

congregational culture and community are the keys for the future

Tom Peters, in Reimagine, “we still think in terms of planning and ordering schange, but there is no longer time for that… every bosses’ top job is not to “make change” release those who are already doing

General Shinseki: if you don’t like change, you are going to like irrelevance even less

Dee Hock: problem never how to get new ideas into your mind, trouble is getting old, out of date ones out

living church: interactive, highly networked, deeply connected….

what is a collaborative catalyst?
– different skill set than what we are used to: see this in creative studios, where different people come together, goal is linking up people’s ideas and skillset, bring that down to
— great listening, pick up on what people are saying and doing, and bring it all into a package

now comments from Irwin McManus
– difference between being a visionary leader and creating visionary environments
— past: charismatic, visonary leader
— now: far more difficult to call people to their unique, individaul vision

Rex: truth being dialogical
– gets back to oral traditions, where conversations and discussion of truth, continual pursuit was a key idea
– this is within relationships, context of the realtionships that become the package for the ideas that walk out

it is not the vision, it is the dynamic that continues to go out
– it is more questions than answers

Irwin: in a debate when someone keeps asking questions, we tend to want to just answer them
– the people who are answering questions tend to be perceived as close minded, and those who ask them are viewed as open minded
– if you want someone to come to a conclusion: continually ask good questions, rather than just giving the answer


like socratic evangelism


Irwin: before he become a Christian, he considered himself a Socratic

– Irwin is a first generation Christian American
– from El Salvador orginally

his church: Mosaic is actually 60 years old, a southern baptist church
– shifted to bicultural congregation, was preaching centered, had classic modern feel
– started introducing film,
– average age is about 24 1/2, about 85% single now, 60 plus nationalities, 50% Asian

Irwin’s definition of postmodernism: shift of authority from anything else to me
– it is so complicated, this can help narrow it down, postmodernism is reflected differently in different places

not going to add more frameworks, now going to unwrap this on a local level
– idea: shifting from where are we going to who are we becoming
— older people are more concerned with where we are going (that is a modern question)

physical location of the mosaic church

who you are going with is more important

in past the leader was supposed to commnicate certainty

have clarity more about what is important, rather that what is true
– help people find clarity in their own life

pastors have been trained to lie: prophesies, arrogance

We should be honest with congregations when we are uncertain about something, we should’t act as if we know everything when we clearly do not

Part of crisis of leadership challenge is: if a person thinks they are the center of all authority, your preaching is not going to change that
– challenge is to try and get inside people’s heart

preaching in last 100 years: us preaching on God’s behalf
– now it has shifted to us speaking on behalf of humanity to God

it is very important as a pastor to uncover the truth of human struggle: speak also on behalf of humanity to God
– wants people to respond: he really understands what I am going through

In past, source of a pastor’s spirtual credibility was knowing God’s word
– know it is knowing God: does the Pastor know God?
– if they conclude that you know God they will listen to whatever you know: your knowing God gives credibility to the scriptures

50 years ago, if you knew the Bible people thought you were Godly
– assumption was: the more Bible you know, the more Godly you are
– this is no longer the assumption
– pastors are no longer supposed to be the best communicators of the Bible, they are supposed to have the most intimate connection with God

True for Moses and Daniel, Acts 7: Moses understood the pagan secular world in which he lived and had to lead, intersection with everything that was sacred and that which is not

part of leading in our culture is to articulate what is going on inside Christianity, people won’t believe you if they perceive you to be disconnected to the world outside Christ

in past we tried to convert people into community, now we try to convert people in community

for a friend, his longing to be in Biblical community brought him to Christ

we are in a post-Christian culture, we are doing to have to learn to disciple people before we evangelism
– we need to get this order changed: disciple first
– people come to Mosaic to get discipled

When you look at the Bible, discipleship is focused on non-believers
– if the original 11 had taken our view, they would have just discipled each others rather than going to the four corners of the world

Need to go to those who do not believe, invest in those who do not know Christ
– in past, focus was taking people from the world into the church
– and we wonder why people view us as an institution?!

Emerging reality: it is about moving the church to the world
– the church isn’t here for you: we are the church and we are here for the world

world has taught Christians to be consumers rather than investors
– it is very different to call people to true servanthood: it is hard to call people to true servanthood

Cover of unstoppable force was designed by 22 year old

leadership in this emerging age is not “where are we going,” it is about “who are we becoming?”

We had to convince our leadership that it was appropriate to bring nonbelievers on mission trips: that the process of doing service could be an intrinsic part of their journey of faith

mobilization = assimilation at Mosaic church

other quick thoughts
– creativity
– diversity
– uniqueness

If you are going to effectively lead in this culture, you need to feel comfortable relating with people who are dramatically different from you
– the more people perceive you as a person open to diverse relationships, who has friends different from you, engages people who are not from your tribe, the better they regard you as authentic

dynamic of creativity: discipleship is NOT about making people all the same
– whenever God brings a new person, we are different as a community

we need to create a culture of pliability and adaptability
– we no longer tell people “this is the structure we are going to use forever”
– tell people it is our values, what we care about together that is most important

you cannot care about things you don’t believe, but you can believe about things you don’t care about

KEY FOCUS: changing what people care about
– leadership in the past environment was putting together the edges of the jigsaw puzzle: that was
– need to learn to lead by putting together the middle of the jigsaw puzzle, and organizing it in clusters

need to speak to people where they are on their spirtual journey: people are already having a converstation with God before you come a long

we are returning to mysticism as a nation, Americans are looking for spirituality

Video that shows fusion of the secular

At Mosaic: the more they can be part of the creative process, the more they can engage people
– in the entire activity people discussed Christ
– key focus was question: what is the meaning of people?
– also shows that we edit life, the scriptures, and everything: trying to say everything is about us

This film won a film festival award in LA

digital interactive culture now allows for authentic expressions of culture that are not pre-packaged, pre-processed and wrapped by professionals

Irwin has lots of art in the service: people painting during the service, painting in public: we have dance, key is not the same thing every Sunday, creating anticipation

some people say: I have already been to church (it is the same every time)

If you grew up in church in the modern world, you have the capacity to endure constant boredom and monotony
– forget modern and postmodern: if you were not raised in the church, you don’t have the same muscle

it is painful and tedious for many people to have a single conversation
– we live in an era where people can and want to keep track of multiple conversations, multiple channels, etc.
– what is the world of children today: world is expansive, very different from previous generations

IM is another example of this

Next film “select fit” shows that the church is not afraid to deal with complex issues
– thing is, it is right there in the Bible, but we are afraid to deal with it
– we have a hard time often dealing with controversies in the Bible

next film is about all of us needing to become, our destiny

for Irwin the key is holding people’s attention: what entertains is to hold people’s attention
– to communicate in the medium that is natural for people
– it is about speaking to people

Irwin: fundamental problem with postmodern idea of Christianity: it seems to be against the current church, anti-modern
– not sure if you can deconstruct everything
– there are natural partnerships for Mosaic with those who want to expand the kingdom of God

positive things happen when we try to construct things, rather than deconstruct them

The hardest thing for leaders is not to get new ideas, but to let go of old ideas.

Irwin’s evaluation: in the modern world, people did not come to Christ through reason, it was through God’spiritual revelation
– Peter did not come to know Jesus through reason: reason brings you to the cliff but does not take you beyond it, that is God’s spiritual

question: how do you blend worship styles in modern / postmodern congregations
– option with youth is to have a culture within a culture
– not something that you can go to a conference and come up with a solution
– like a family within

Irwin thinks we have a spiritual narcissim problem: we tend to think the church is for us, if we don’t move beyond that we can’t move forward
– we need to continually ask how do we bring the message to Christ

people would rather lose their children than lose their traditions

lots of other countries don’t have the luxury of having many of the debates that we are allowed to do

limitation of the postmodern discussion is the idea that western history is all of history
– in LA, much more influenced by the pacific rim than be European cultures
– america is not just becoming like Europe, we have influx of Indian, Tibetian, etc.

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