back the edge
by john o'keefe
have been hearing lately that many of the “long
time” postmodern ministry sites have been “losing
their edge” and they (the sites) are wondering why
this has happened.
Let me start by saying, I agree – many have
lost their edge, and they must get it back.
Many have become the ever-unpopular biblical
“lukewarm water” and many postmodern people are
spitting us out. I
recently submitted an article to one of those
“long-time ‘edgy postmodern’ sites” entitled,
“10 reasons why your church sucks” (posted on
article was not overly offensive to anyone; it was
however very truthful. The email I received from the person who runs the site in
response to the article was interesting.
Her response was “if you take the word s**k
(her spelling, not mine) out” and “if I would tone
down the article a little” she would love to publish
until then, she would have to consider those who
“contribute” to the ministry and felt “in its
present form your article would offend the more
traditional/contemporary ministry members who visit our
it would offend them, modern people are offended by
world like “suck” and when you connect it with words
like “church” they completely freak out.
They were less concerned with the content of the
article and more concerned with the word.
But postmodern people read the article and say,
“dah, of course the church sucks.”
why are most postmodern sites loosing their edge?
I think it happened because they hit the comfort
zone, and they don’t like the pressure caused by being
on the edge. Being
on the edge is scary, cool but very scary.
You see, being lukewarm is comfortable; being
ether cold or hot is not.
After all, would you rather swim in an ice-cold
pool, or one with a “comfortable” tempter?
I think the reason postmodern sites have lost
their edge is that many have forgotten what “being on
the edge” means.
edgy is not found in “cutting edge designs;” being
edgy is not what we look like it is what we say (imagery
over image). Most
postmodern ministries are moving to the flash, and are
less concerned with the substance of what makes us
get me wrong tech is cool, at ginkworld we are always
striving to move ahead (when we can afford it) with tech
– but we should not want to sacrifice our edge, to be
edgy is not found in our willing to please everyone.
For me, and I can truly only speak for myself,
being edgy is not a willingness to compromise our core
have been hearing too much lately about “building
bridges” and “not offending” or “soften the
if we truly are secure in out theology, and we truly
desire to change the church to minister to a postmodern
world – we need to be firm and speak out minds.
I am not a bridge builder; I am postmodern; if
moderns desire to join us, cool – if not, oh well. My theology is not to placate to moderns and “understand
their point of view” as much as it is for me to teach
moderns what we are doing – we are under the
assumption that we need to take it slow and easy – no,
as a postmodern person I will say this, “we are
coming, move out of the way or get on board.
You will not be able to stop us.”
We, as a movement, have become more concerned
with offending modern people, then proclaiming our
stance, and we need to get back to the basics.
edgy is not found in the latest way to raise money.
I know, I know, we all need money.
Ok, you’re right; we all do need money.
But the question is not “do we need money”
but rather “how do we get the money we need?”
I have visited some sites that are so filled with
ads it’s crazy. We
need to be very careful, because when we “sell
space” on our sites, we run the risk of
“selling-out” our edge.
I remember when we first started ginkworld.
We were looking to get some money, so we
approached one of the major Christian ministry sites and
wanted to know if they would like to place an “ad”
on our site.
They were interested, if we would “change our
We thank them, and dug deeper into our pockets
for the funds needed to get ginkworld up and going.
It may sound harsh, but many postmodern sites are
selling out, and are more concerned with the buck then
with the mission.
edgy is not found at the bottom of the cliff looking up.
No, no, no – being on the edge is being on the
top of the cliff and looking down.
I love to repel; I get a big kick out of grabbing
the rope and just going for broke.
No sooner do I get done, and then I want to get
back on top and do it again.
One time I took a friend with me, and he loved it
– he loved the climb up, and the run down.
But when he was down, he had no desire to get
back up and do it again.
He was happy being at the bottom and telling
people he did it. Many
of the postmodern sites have done the same – they love
being at the bottom looking up and sharing their
experience of being at the top, on the edge.
now the question becomes, “how do we get our edge
back?” or “how do we maintain the edge we already
think the first step is to realize what it means to have
an edge. For
me, it comes to this – we, and most postmoderns I know
fall into this, have develop this idea that we need not
“cut” people (taper our thoughts as to not offend);
but a good sharp edge always runs the possibility of
cutting someone. After
all, it is the responsibility of the knife not to cut
the person; it is the responsibility of the person
taking the knife not to be cut.
It is not the responsibility of the postmodern
person to hold back their thought out of the fear it
will offend. It
is the responsibility of the modern person to not handle
our words in a way that will cut them (you think it’s
confusing to read that – imagine thinking it and
writing it). The
position of a postmodern ministry is not to stop the
cutting, but to remember that our intent is not to cut
– but we still cut. The problem is this – if we are edgy, we will cut.
That is the nature of being “edgy.”
I have found that many people try very hard not
to “offend” moderns with our points of view, and in
this we have watered down our message – we have dulled
our edge. Whether
we take the metaphor of “edge” as a cutting edge, or
the edge of a cliff (or if you are like me, you mix the
metaphors) being on the edge is always a bit dangerous.
think we need to do the following to get back our edge:
ready to hone the blade:
to become sharp again, we need to make sure the
blade will hold an edge.
We need to spend time truly honing the blade to
its proper edge. This means we need to read, write, encourage, attend seminars
and be willing to support each other.
One thing that I have noticed over the past year
is that we are doing “our own thing” we have lost
our connection – as if we ever really had one.
We think we are better then others and will not
speak with each other, or email each other. Now there are some very cool exceptions, but all in all,
people in postmodern ministry are too centered on their
importance and their ability to put together seminars.
Oh sure, we say we support each other, but we
have found ways of thinking past each other.
We need to join forces and help each other
develop the edge.
ready to cut, and be cut:
this is hard for many who see postmodernism as a
“let’s accept all” point of view.
Some how that wrong philosophy has attached
itself to postmodern thought.
It is not that we accept everything; it is that
we accept a different point of view.
There is a difference.
need to remember that once the blade is sharp, it will
cut (getting cut, or cutting, is not bad – we will
talk more about that in a while).
We need to learn to respect the blade and keep it
covered when not in use.
have been dealing with this issue for a few months now.
I have been wondering why I have been in a
"funk" and I just figured it out - I’ve been
seeing, and I will include myself in this mix, that many
of the postmodern ministries are losing their
"edge" - it's like we're afraid to say
anything that might offend a modern leader because we
lose "wining" then to our side - but that's
impossible - our foundations are different.
am not a bridge builder, and I’ve tried to be - I need
get back to what God wants me to be - an "in your
face, unapologetic, radical postmodern who will be a
thorn in the side of the church - and love it."
It’s the old "I got to be me" thing.
So, if you want to know what the
"old/new" me would do?
I would be in their face confronting them on why
they have rejected postmodern thought - and then ask
them why they fell the lies of modernism are so
important to hold, but that’s just me.
As “leaders” in the postmodern world (people
read what we write) we need to hold fast to the
principles of a postmodern word.
We must get back the edge and not lose our
of ginkworld. he has an mdiv from drew and several years experience as
both a church planter and a senior pastor.