Evangelism in a secular context

by Vesa Annala

Sweden, perhaps, is known as the most secular country in the world. According to one study covering 1986 to 2011, the average Swede attended a worship service or religious meeting seven times a year.1 These visits include funerals, weddings, baptismal services, and Christian holidays, for example. Another study showed that 23 percent of Swedes believed in God, 19 percent say they do not believe in God, while 53 percent believe in some kind of spirit or life force.2 All in all, Swedes take first place in admitting that they are atheists, agnostics, or nonbelievers. Next come people from Vietnam, Denmark, and Norway.3

Often described as “postmodern,” the secular individual is known as an individual who has a strong, individualist outlook on life. Characterized by gadgetry, the postmodern has and would like even more gadgets. Often people say that the postmodern individual no longer believes in the “big stories” we find in the various religious books (including the Bible). This mentality has led many to throw the major Bible stories into the “historian’s hotchpotch,” as the former archbishop of Sweden, K. G. Hammar, is credited to have once expressed.

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God's mighty acts in a changing world (part 1 of 2)

by Jon Paulien

The Seventh-day Adventist Church faces serious problems in evangelism and church growth. One such problem became clear during a recent pastors’ meeting in South England, where we reviewed the status of the church in Britain. In spite of a major increase in immigration over the last twenty years, 95 percent of the British population remains English-speaking whites. Of the 20,000 Adventists in that country, about 10 percent reflect this majority; 85 percent come from West Indian immigrants, who constitute only 2 percent of the general population; and the rest from other ethnic groups. Of the 8,000 Adventist members in London, only about 100 are whites. Most members felt that these statistics indicate a racial problem: blacks are naturally open to the gospel and whites are naturally closed.

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Process versus instant evangelism

by Miroslav Pujic

The Western world is in a state of flux; the modern world, stretching back to the Enlightenment, is now crumbling. Postmodernism is no longer merely part of academic theory and classification. It is accepted as part of reality and normality, a phenomenon in popular culture; it permeates popular magazines, television, music, and art. It is also manifested in the workplace and in the way people communicate and relate to one another.

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Pastoring on the postmodern frontline (part 1)

by Samir Selmanovic
Last summer I saw a photograph of a white stone bridge crossing over a Florida river. Before Hurricane Mitch, the river flowed beneath the bridge. After the hurricane the direction of the riverbed had completely shifted. A second photograph showed the river flowing parallel to the bridge.
This bridge could serve as a symbol of contemporary Christian ministry, with the hurricane representing postmodernism. The river may be seen as a collection of modern era questions about faith. In the last half-century the old riverbed, caught in the fallout of the hurricane of postmodernism, has radically changed its course; the bridge, symbolic of the ministry and our attempt to answer important questions, has stayed much the same.

Without a doubt, we must remain committed to speaking the "strange" truth of the gospel. Innovation in itself is not the goal. Yet it is precisely because we want to communicate the unchanging gospel that we need to change. We must change not only our methods but also our understanding of how people think and feel and thus how we are to think as we seek to meet their minds and hearts.

The truth is that in many countries of our world, the culture has not merely changed, it has morphed into a humanity with a worldview radically different from the past. The shift is away from the so-called "modern" worldview, which began roughly in the sixteenth century and was built on the Enlightenment values of reason, science, control, and conquest. The postmodern worldview questions all the assumptions, claims, and fruits of "modernism." Because contemporary people are committed to a vastly different way of thinking, a correspondingly different approach must emerge in our ministry to them.

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