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Post-Modern Pilgrims By Leonard Sweet (Broadman & Holman,2000)

August 17, 2011

Post -Modern Pilgrims by Leonard Sweet a professor at Drew University written around the turn of the century is a book worth reading but not for the reasons most people read a book. The thesis of the book is summed up in the quotation” Postmodern pilgrims must strive to keep the past and the future in perpetual conversation so every generation will find a fresh expression of the Gospel that is anchored solidly to the faith that was once for all delivered”. This book helps the reader come to grips with (the leading edge in 2000 of ) cultural change which he identifies as postmodernity. The book playes out like a Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson mystery story where Dr. Warson has all the clues presented then procedes to misinterprete them but still helps Holmes solve the case in the end. Dr. Sweet presents an amazing collection of cultural clues, quotes, illustrations, stastics and insights. From these he constructes about 20 what he calls FAITH PRACTICES AND WEB INTERACTIVES to conclude every chapter that are worth the price of the book for creative discussion starters/active learning exercises and application point exercises.The chapters follow the accrostic E P I C which stands for Experiential, Participatory, Image driven and Connected. The problem is not with the clues or the application but in the solution to the proposed problem which using the hindsight of a decades perspective is shown to be signifigantly overstated and therefore incorrect. To illustrate my take on this point I submit two quotes ” Christendom is divided today between old world churches and new world churches. They move at different speeds. They prize different values. They measure success differently. They think differently: one primaraly in terms of big and small the other in terms of fast and slow. One is book-centric, the other web-centric. In one the book is the foundation of everything they do. In the other, the web is their drfining metaphor and mechanism. You can’t avoid the stench of ecclesiastical disintegration or the sweet aroma of new growth” (P 140) Elementary Watson if only those distinctions were that easy to define and measure. The second quote, “Apply what I call the 10 year rule to your church. Look back ten years in time. Can you recognize your church? Are you basicly the same church you were then? Or are you barely recognizable? When you compare where you are today with where you were ten years ago if you can’t say I don’t recognize this place you don’t get it.)p 159) Really….I know emergent modeled churches that are 10 years old and look a lot like they did when they started maybe the issue is not focused on recognizable outward changes as the ultimate sulutions for post-modern pilgrim ministries.

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