The Modern, Postmodern University, part 4: Reaching Moderns

Rick Mattson Apologetics, Evangelism 3 Comments

I‘ll be hanging with these Bemidji State crazies all of next week

This is week four on the topic of reaching today’s young people with the message of Jesus. See prior posts dated Feb 20, 28, Mar 6.

  • Last week: reaching postmodern students.
  • This week: reaching modern students.

Step One with modern students: Show yourself a player. 

That is, show that you care about being reasonable and rational. I heard one of my mentors, Jim Sire,* state in a public talk awhile back that faith is never less than logical.

Yes, it’s much more than logical. It involves commitment, passion, risk.

But it’s never illogical. That stuck with me.

So I try to establish early on that, like many young atheists, I care about the rational process of arriving at truth.

Step Two: Admit fallibility. 

Amazingly, this step is tough for many evangelicals.

Actually, all I am saying is that while God is perfect, I am not. God makes judgments without error, I do not.

If I were infallible rather than fallible, I’d be God.

Admitting my fallibility to young “free thinkers” makes them think I am actually listening to them–actually open to their perspective.

Which I am.

Step Three: Love.

Whereas with postmodern students the relational part comes first, with modern students it comes last.

(Yes, I’m exaggerating. In real life it varies from student to student.)

Most modern students care about truth, science, rational method. So connect with them on that level first. Show yourself a player there. 

Then at some point step 3 kicks in: You draw them into experiences of the kingdom. Not even hard-headed, cynical atheists can say no to genuine expressions of Christ’s love.

OK, some can.

But not usually.

* Dr. James Sire, author of The Universe Next Door and a lot of other excellent books.

Comments 3

  1. Well, the practice of connecting with students … or anyone else … about Christian perspectives takes into account not only the message and the messenger, but also the receiver. You've nailed the person-centered character of witness. Keep up the great work. Enjoying your blogs. D Clark

  2. All in all, we who KNOW God thru Christ can use all the right arguments and attitudes that accompany those arguments (all good!) but it's our individual experience of God's love and saving grace, and the Spirit's cleansing work in our hearts, that defies language. So, like you say, it's also our loving behavior that counts — only the rare cynic cannot respond to divine love. Pity, the person!
    Thanks, Rick

  3. David, thanks for the good word. I'm really committed to the idea that one size does not fit all, when it comes to outreach.

    John, yeah, it's not just the information but the experience that counts!

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