|g i n k w o l d . n e t|
Getting back the edge
by john o'keefe
by john o'keefe
I 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 ginkworld). The 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 it. But 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 site.” Sure 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.”
So, 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.
Being 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 postmodern. Don’t 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 flashy.
Being 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 values. I have been hearing too much lately about “building bridges” and “not offending” or “soften the words.” But, 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.
Being 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 florafox.com, krasnodar. 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 ministry direction.” 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.
Being 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.
The next questions:
So now the question becomes, “how do we get our edge back?” or “how do we maintain the edge we already have?” I 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.
I think we need to do the following to get back our edge:
Get 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.
Get 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. . We 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.
I 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.
I 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 direction.
founder/editor/publisher of ginkworld. he has an mdiv from drew and several years experience as both a church planter and a senior pastor.