The task of preaching to a broader audience and promoting the Christian faith has become significantly more complicated over the past several decades, mostly due to the change in cultural perceptions and the resulting shift in values. In the present-day environment of post-modernism, a phenomenon that is very difficult to define, the task of spreading the word of Christ has become particularly challenging. Nonetheless, preaching the Word of God in the formal sense not only still has a place in the ministry, but also is required as it has never been before due to the changes caused by revisiting and challenging the traditional concepts through the Postmodern lens.
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The propensity toward secularism is another sign that can be interpreted as the reason for concerns and the urgency of faith integration in the community. With the introduction of numerous opinions on the issue of Christianity, Christian values, and their place in contemporary society, Christians will be exposed to multiple ideas that may tamper with their beliefs, ultimately undermining them (Savarino 161). Among the key trends that raise concerns, the tendency to glorify secularism needs to be brought up as a serious threat to the Christian community.
Therefore, the focus on traditional Christian values as the stronghold of the Christian faith and the quintessence of it needs to be maintained. Moreover, nowadays, it is as important as it has never been to spread the word of Christ and convert people into the Christian belief. Due to the increase in the extent of exposure to numerous threats to the integrity of faith and their virtue, people need the guidance of an effective leader and the support of a faithful community. Therefore, as a minister, one has to channel critical beliefs and ideas across the community to enhance the strength of the influence that the Christian philosophy currently has on believers. The role of reinforcement of Christian ideas and concepts amidst the environment of secularism and pluralism has been proven multiple times, such as in the case of Paul preaching to Galatians (Lose, 2013). The combination of Postmodernism, Pluralist, and Secularist ideas creates a barrier that some people might find excessively hard to overcome when following their need to seek salvation and shape their Christian identity.
Since the Postmodern culture implies challenging the traditional perspectives, thus creating the threat of eroding the foundational human values, it is critical for Christian leaders to uphold the principles of faith integration and focus on reinforcing the need for holding onto crucial Christian values. Otherwise, the concepts such as unity, compassion, thankfulness, peace, wisdom, and endurance will be ultimately lost in a nihilistic attempt at subverting the traditional philosophy without offering anything of substance. Thus, Christian leaders need to build on the traditional concepts mentioned above, as well as the principle of Christlikeness as the ideal that people will have to uphold. Thus, the foundational values needed to manage the clashing forces of Postmodernism, secularism, and pluralism will be established.
Social media has doubtlessly changed the world significantly, entering every aspect of people’s lives and transforming their communication. The described alteration in the management of the interpersonal dialogue has changed the interactions within the Christian community and especially the Church significantly (Kim 38). Examining the changes that social media has produced in the Christian church, one will have to notice greater opportunities for reaching out to a broader audience. Therefore, the current technological advances, including informational technologies and especially information and communication ones, allow expanding the audience that a pastor can embrace. Thus, the application of social media in church allows for the inclusion of an entirely new paradigm for preaching.
Specifically, the use of networking helps to build stronger connections between a pastor and the community, at the same time reinforcing the ties within it. As a result, sermons have a much greater and longer-lasting impact on the target audiences, and the weight of the statements made by the pastor increase significantly in the target Christian setting. As a result, new opportunities for convincing people to accept Christian values and open their minds to the idea of salvation emerge. Therefore, the opportunities for connecting with the community and understanding the needs of every member will allow priests to appeal to the target demographic more naturally and effectively (Sweet, 2014). In addition, social media can be used by the Christian church to educate those who have not yet accepted Christ in their lives, thus creating new opportunities for their enlightenment and spiritual development.
At the same time, it is important to remember that, as a Christian leader, one needs to maintain a balance between the preaching style that appears to be accessible and easily understandable to all community members, and the approach to preaching that has strong connections to the Bible. Although on-tap preaching has been a popular framework that has helped to reach particular effects, it is still crucial for a Christian leader to return to the Biblical roots. Otherwise, the spiritual weight of a sermon will be watered down and, eventually, lost in favor of an easily digestible speech. Although preaching needs to be palatable, it has to contain the essential grain of Biblical wisdom, which cannot be reached when simplifying the preaching process and its message extensively.
There can be no doubt that the modern content to which both pastors and community members have been exposed has given a strong impetus for change in the preaching manner. The very message of preaching may have been altered slightly in an attempt at adjusting to the rapid changes in the sociocultural context and the perception of religion and faith by target audiences (Sweet, 2014). Although the described changes are fascinating in terms of the opportunities for the exploration of one’s spirituality and Christian identity, it may come at the cost of losing the traditional perception of Christian philosophe, as well as the role of a Christian leader and the methods used to direct the target audience on the path of salvation.
Preaching in the postmodernist context implies dealing with the idea of denying the traditional values without having any tangibly useful substitute in their place. Indeed, when considering the effects of Postmodernism and the Postmodern culture on the evolution of preaching, one will notice that the role of a leader has been altered from that one of a guiding force to that one of a support system for Christians. On the one hand, the specified change has allowed for the promotion of individualism and the focus on culture-specific needs of community members when preaching crucial ideas to the crowd (Poythress 127.). On the other hand, the described alterations may have weakened the impact that a pastor has on the community, as well as the extent of change that a pastor can inspire in an individual.
Furthermore, the contemporary Postmodern culture tends to view religious beliefs as absolutist and not allowing for a discussion, which is why a range of people tend to dismiss religious beliefs as constraining free speech. The described opinion has become quite popular among general audiences, which has led to people refusing to accept Christian beliefs and values. As a result, the notions of unity, empathy, collaboration, support, and other instrumental principles required for peace and cooperation within a community are dismissed (Gair and Vlacos 133). Thus, the specified mindset needs to be challenged so that more people could accept Christian ideas as positive and promote love and acceptance.
Finally, the cultural diversity of the Postmodern era has also affected the preaching process, as well as its core goals and frameworks used to reach out to the target audience. Specifically, the notion of preaching has gained the sense of speaking to a broad range of people from all types of cultural backgrounds. Arguably, the specified environment has defined the changes in preaching toward an overly simplified introduction to critical ideas and values (Lose, 2013). Thus, one could claim that, in the Postmodern era, the process of preaching may have been watered down to communicating only basic truths without challenging the target public intellectually.
However, on the other hand, the described alterations in the type and range of audiences may have created opportunities for introducing new ideas into the preaching process and trying new strategies for addressing people. By borrowing approaches to communication, as well as specific aspects of it, such as unique metaphors, symbols, and imagery, a pastor can create the lingua franca that will be palatable to any Christian churchgoer, at the same time inviting people to contemplate new ideas (Chiroma 2). The creation of the common language that every member of the church can understand will allow transcending the linguistic barrier that is often mentioned when communicating key challenges of preaching in the Postmodern context.
Thus, making God’s message comprehensible while leaving opportunities for a discussion and a profound analysis remains one of the key challenges that the current postmodern environment sets for preaching. The task of conveying a nuanced idea to fellow Christians becomes even more challenging due to the restrictions of the medium. While social media and tools for telecommunication offer a strategy for embracing a wider population, they also imply using a different format, which may make the preaching process more rushed and, unfortunately, more shallow (Khlyscheva et al. 127). The problem of the shallowness of the discourse in online media is a crucial one since it represents a major obstacle in the way of shaping people’s idea of Christianity, its foundational values, and the philosophy that stands behind it. Without proper discourse, one is likely to fail in encompassing the complexity and versatility of the issue.
The problem outlined above can be approached by focusing on the traditional Christian values and encouraging discussions concerning Christian ideas and philosophy. By challenging the preconceptions and prejudices shaped by general audiences, a Christian leader can convince the target demographic that Christianity promotes love and acceptance, as well as a peaceful and virtuous life. Thus, a broader range of people will be able to accept the Christian faith and contribute to the promotion of Christian values across the community.
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Chiroma, Nathan H. “Theological Education and the Challenges of Postmodernism.” International Journal of Arts Humanities and Social Sciences, vol. 2, no. 11, 2017, pp. 1-7.
Gair, Christopher, and Sophie Vlacos. “From Poe to Post-Postmodernism: Symbiosis, 1997–2018.” Symbiosis: A Journal of Transatlantic Literary and Cultural Relations, vol. 22, no. 2, 2019, pp. 125-145.
Khlyscheva, Elena Vladislavovna, et al. “Postmodern Rhizome and Models of Religious Identity.” European Journal of Science and Theology, vol. 16, no. 1, 2020, pp. 119-130.
Kim, Eunjoo Mary. Christian Preaching and Worship in Multicultural Contexts: A Practical Theological Approach. Liturgical Press, 2017.
Lose, D. J. (2013). Preaching at the Crossroads. Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press Publications, Inc.
Poythress, Vern S. “Paul’s Preaching and Postmodern Skepticism.” Unio Cum Christo: International Journal of Reformed Theology and Life, vol. 2, no. 2, 2016, p. 127.
Savarino, Luca. “Moral Pluralism and Christian Bioethics: On HT Engelhardt Jr.’s After God.” Christian Bioethics: Non-Ecumenical Studies in Medical Morality, vol. 23, no. 2, 2017, pp. 169-182.
Sweet, L. I. (2014). Giving Blood. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publications, Inc.