I Once Was Lost: What Postmodern Skeptics Taught Us About Their Path to Jesus
By Don Everts and Doug Schaupp
How do people come to Jesus in a postmodern culture? Don Everts and Doug Schaupp—two self-described “missionaries to the college campus”—interviewed 2,000 postmodern converts to find out.
Everts and Schaupp are quick to anticipate the groans of people who don’t care for the nebulous “postmodern” jargon, defining upfront what postmodernity means to them:
It’s how things are right now. It’s the in between times. We are more experiential than propositional in our connection to truth. We are more communal than individualistic. We value authenticity over theory. We understand struggle more than naïve certainty. We are in process, and we will be different in ten or twenty years.
As suggestions of certainty and conclusiveness evidently give these two the willies, one can imagine their frisson when they actually found common, verifiable principles underlying every testimony they heard. Or, more in keeping with the language of the book, they found that postmodern converts shared strikingly similar experiences.
Everts and Schaupp throw their authorial hands up over this “surprising consensus,” writing, “It’s their consensus about that journey that gives us the pluck to write this book.” They present their findings as five thresholds over which every new convert passes on their path to Jesus: 1) Trusting a Christian, 2) becoming curious, 3) opening up to change, 4) seeking after God and 5) entering the kingdom.
So, what does this progression from suspicion to faith reveal about the character of postmodern evangelism? This is clearly the question that inspires these two veteran InterVarsity workers, and they treat it with a cautious reverence. While the five thresholds give us bearings in a time of transition, Everts and Schaupp remind us that no model should be held too closely—as evangelism is finally determined by the individual before us:
The reality is we each need to make a decision to serve our non-Christian friends. Just because we understand more clearly what postmodern folks need in their journey, it does not necessarily follow that we will give them what they need. It takes energy and humility and risk to serve others, to allow others’ needs to guide our actions…Even with the greatest, most insightful and relevant wisdom tools, we each still have a decision to make in witness: will we put our friends’ needs before ours, or will we do what we want?
For more on I Once Was Lost, see ivpress.com.