Sharing the Gospel in a Postmodern World

young woman sharing her faith with her friends outside | article on Sharing the Gospel in a Postmodern World

Article by Sarah Koontz, Founder ofLiving by Design Ministries

Have you ever wondered what it would be like if Jesus’ life and ministry on earth was happening today?

I do not believe it would be an error to hypothesize that Jesus’ earthly ministry, and the subsequent work of the Apostles, would have looked quite different had it occurred in a different time or place.

It is unlikely that a modern-day Jesus would walk from town to town or a modern-day Paul would communicate with church leaders by hand-delivered letters.

In the same way that our methods of transportation and communication have evolved, our method of delivering the gospel message must be continuously reevaluated and redeveloped as culture changes.

In the same way that our methods of transportation and communication have evolved, our method of delivering the gospel message must be continuously reevaluated and redeveloped as culture changes.Click to Tweet

Communicating Truth in Different Eras

In the second half of Christ’s Great Commission, we learn that teaching is an essential element of His call to global discipleship.

Jesus explicitly stated that He wanted the disciples to teach the people of all the nations to “obey everything I have commanded you” (Matt. 28:20, NIV).

So how have Christ’s disciples sought to fulfill this particular aspect of the Great Commission in different cultures and throughout the ages?

And what impact does the current cultural climate and the impact of postmodernism have on Christians’ ability to reach and teach the nations about the truth of Jesus Christ in the twenty-first century?

group of young people sharing their faith with friends in a park | article on Sharing the Gospel in a Postmodern World

The incarnation of Jesus Christ, more than 2,000 years ago, gave us the ultimate example of the lengths God will go to communicate truth to a group of people.

The Son of God actively and purposefully immersed himself in the culture of his day.

We see several examples of Christ’s contextualization sprinkled throughout the New Testament:

(1) Jesus taught with relevant illustrations that were understandable to His listeners (John 15:1-2).

(2) Jesus familiarized himself with the religious customs of His audience (Mark 10:2-9).

(3) Jesus spoke, dressed, and operated in a way that was common to the people of His generation (Phil. 2:6-7).

The incarnation of Jesus Christ, more than 2,000 years ago, gave us the ultimate example of the lengths God will go to communicate truth to a group of people.Click to Tweet

Before He ascended into Heaven, Jesus instructed His disciples to follow His example (Jn. 20:21) and commissioned them to “preach the gospel to all the world” (Mark 16:15, NIV).

Although the truth of His teaching is timeless, Jesus’ message was contextualized because it utilized the “language, ideas, customs, and social structures of a particular culture.” [1]

Because the “missionary’s ultimate goal in communication has always been to present the supracultural message of the gospel in culturally relevant terms,” [2] it is vital for Christian teachers to study culture and the Bible.

So what does that mean for us believers today in our role to share the Gospel?
How does living in a post-modern era affect how we spread the Great Commission?

group of young people sharing their faith and studying the Word together in a park | article on Sharing the Gospel in a Postmodern World

Three Keys to Successful Ministry in a Postmodern Culture

The postmodern movement is essentially a reaction, or recoil, to the modernist view that truth is discoverable or knowable.

Black and white thinking has been replaced with shades of grey, and many versions of the truth are acceptable and valid.

In a world of grey thinking, the only thing that is not acceptable is absolute, black or white, truth.

Conversely, our Christian faith is built upon Jesus’ declaration in John 14:6, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

In a world of grey thinking, the only thing that is not acceptable is absolute, black or white, truth.Click to Tweet

The driving force in Christian evangelism is a desire for the entire world to know that Jesus Christ is the way they are searching for, the truth they need, and the life they are missing.

So how can we, as Christians, reach a culture that doesn’t believe in absolute truth with the only truth that they absolutely need?

group of young people walking together and sharing their faith | article on Sharing the Gospel in a Postmodern World

At Living by Design Ministries, we are attempting to tackle this postmodern ministry dilemma with the following three-fold approach:

#1. Equipping Christians to study and apply the truth of the Bible to their own lives.

I wholeheartedly agree with John MacArthur’s assertion that “Every true Christian should know and love the truth.” [3]

Truth is the source of our sanctification, and the Bible is our source of truth (John 17:17).

When we build our lives on the truth and allow the truth to transform our lives, we are prepared to live in unity with other believers and our lives will help the world believe in Jesus Christ (John 17:21).

The Bible says that truth is the source of our freedom (John 9:32) and salvation (2 Thess. 2:10).

If we want people to take our version of the truth seriously, we must study it, believe it, and obey it consistently.

If we want people to take our version of the truth seriously, we must study it, believe it, and obey it consistently.Click to Tweet

While most Christians revere the Bible as the inspired Word of God, they rarely read it. “Adults who use the Bible daily account for 14 percent of the total adult population, followed by 13 percent who use it several times a week, 8 percent who do so once a week, 6 percent about once a month and 8 percent who use it three to four times a year.”

According to the Barna Research Group, “more than half of users now search for Bible content on the internet (57%) or a smartphone (55%), and another 42 percent use a Bible app on their phones.”

By providing free online resources to help Christians better engage with the biblical text, Living by Design Ministries is tackling the problem of Bible literacy in a culturally relevant manner.

young people in a park studying the Word and sharing their faith | article on Sharing the Gospel in a Postmodern World

#2. Building a safe, uplifting community and regularly inviting outsiders to participate.

We live in a culture that values community, and many people are turning to the internet to find meaningful social connections. 

Our ministry has had great success cultivating online communities and utilizing social media platforms to share our uplifting, biblical message with internet users.

We utilize social media, e-mail, and blog articles to engage Christians all around the world in evangelistic discipleship.

By creating free educational tools that are delivered digitally, we help Christians grow in their knowledge and understanding of God’s Word, while also equipping them to evangelize to their friends and family by sharing our free resources online.

By providing free online resources to help Christians better engage with the biblical text, Living by Design Ministries is tackling the problem of Bible literacy in a culturally relevant manner.Click to Tweet

#3. Offering the Bible as our source of truth and inspiring people to read it for themselves.

We need not water down or apologize for our Christian belief that God’s Word is true (John 17:17), but we must be strategic in how we choose to share our truth with others.

At Living by Design Ministries, our goal is to create engaging opportunities to encourage people to read the Bible for themselves, but not by themselves.

Our free online Bible studies are packed with multi-sensory educational resources to attract and inspire a wide variety of people to give Bible study a try.

Many of our studies include an audio version, free digital gifts, coloring pages, and beautifully crafted shareable graphics to help our readers engage all their senses in Bible study.

If anything on earth has the power to change a person’s perception of truth, it is God’s “living and active” (Heb. 4:12) Word!

In a world of grey thinking, the only thing that is not acceptable is absolute, black or white, truth. So how can we, as Christians, reach a culture that doesn’t believe in absolute truth with the only truth that they absolutely need? | Sharing the Gospel in a Postmodern World

As Christians living in a postmodern era, we must not strive “to be a moral majority but a gospel community, one that doesn’t exist for itself but for the larger mission of reaching the whole world with the whole gospel.” [4]

Instead of fearing postmodernism, Christians should take time to discover the underlying needs and assumptions that motivate this type of thinking by engaging in positive, thoughtful dialogue with people who do not share their views.

At Living by Design Ministries, our goal is to create engaging opportunities to encourage people to read the Bible for themselves, but not by themselves.Click to Tweet

We must follow Jesus Christ’s example and find the courage to creatively, persistently, and graciously engage our culture with the gospel message.

As ministers of the gospel in the twenty-first century, it is our job to do everything we can to create new opportunities for people to be set free by the truth of God’s Word (John 8:31-32).

BIBLIOGRAPHY

  • [1] Kreider, Glen R. “The Role of Culture in Theology.” Lecture, Dallas Theological Seminary, Dallas, TX. 2013.
  • [2] Hesselgrave, David. J. and Edward Rommen. Contextualization: Meanings, Methods, and Models. Pasadena: William Carey Library, 1989.
  • [3] MacArthur, John. The Truth War: Fighting for Certainty in an Age of Deception. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2007.
  • [4] Moore, Russell. Onward: Engaging the Culture without Losing the Gospel. Nashville, TN: B&H Publishing, 2015.
About the Author: Sarah Koontz

About the Author: Sarah Koontz

Sarah Koontz is the founder of Living by Design Ministries, a non-profit organization that exists to deliver free Bible Studies to inboxes around the world. She is a passionate storyteller who enjoys using illustrations to communicate deep spiritual truths. Sarah and her husband Ryan live on thirteen acres in the heart of the Black Hills, SD. They have two beautiful daughters, a rowdy flock of chickens, and two cats. Sarah is an avid gardener, a faithful coffee drinker, lover of one-pot-dinners, and an unexpected homeschooler.

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