Many people think that postmodern ideas and concepts mean the death of Christianity. Brian McLaren thinks those people are partially correct. The end of modernity does indeed mean the end of modern Christianity (Christianity as it was enfleshed in the modern mindset). But it does not mean that Christianity is finished. McLaren is confident that Christianity, once it has been freed from modern constraints, can once again be the vibrant, life-changing relationship (as opposed to religion) that it was originally intended to be.
So how can Christians take advantage of the rise of postmodernism, and the fall of modernity? The best and most effective way, according to McLaren, is what he terms spiritual friendship. Based on Jesus' call to make disciples instead of simply converts, McLaren urges us to develop long-term friendships with non-believers. These friendships, statistically speaking, are more likely to bring people into church than any other human activity (friends and family are, by far, the most important factor in a non-believer coming to Christ, according to numerous surveys).
McLaren's call for spiritual friendship is at once innovative, and at the same time, remarkably timeless. It is innovative because "modern" evangelism often seems to be focused on ideas like conversion, conquest, war, proofs, arguments, etc., while spiritual friendship focuses, instead, on ideas like conversation, influence, and even dance, which is one of McLaren's favorite descriptions, as true dance has no winner or loser, but is, instead, an interactive experience in which both parties must cooperate. McLaren's ideas are timeless as well, in that they share a remarkable similarity with what Jesus taught His disciples, and the relationships He built with them.
It is possible (and likely) that some (many) of your efforts at evangelism in your neighborhood have produced more frustration than change. McLaren's concept of spiritual friendship may be just what you have been looking for. Understanding yourself as a spiritual friend will enable you to share the joy and purpose your life has because of God in a deep, meaningful way with your postmodern neighbor. They are yearning for that kind of joy and purpose, and they are eager to find true, faithful friends. By being a spiritual friend, you can satisfy both longings, and you will likely discover that you have been longing for that kind of friendship as well. And you will begin the godly task of overcoming evil with good and love.
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