A 32-year-old Canadian with a gift and passion for evangelism has been examining the methods of postmodern ministry. Jason Burden, founder and president of the Burden Evangelistic Association and Pierced, Inc., seeks to incorporate the core elements of prayer, fasting and consecration with postmodern methods. This approach to ministry was not overnight discovery, but a journey that started in western Canada.
After accepting Christ at the age of seven, Burden became nonchalant about his faith. By his late teens, he was suffering from depression. Yet, despite that dark time, Burden was able to reconnect with God. He began traveling around the world, and God used him to minister to people from various church backgrounds, especially the Catholic Church.
“I wouldn’t agree with everything I saw [in the Catholic church] theologically, but God broadened my horizons about the cultures and how they related to God,” he said. With this new perspective, he enrolled in Bible College, graduated and got married. Five years later, he and his wife Jan moved to Colorado Springs, CO, after a job fell through. During this time, he discovered many people in Colorado Springs did not have a God context, despite the large number of churches and parachurch organizations in the area. This realization inspired Burden to organize an outreach event.
He contacted various other organizations and businesses for support, and the event was launched in October 2000. With commercials airing on MTV and with bands like P.O.D., Philmore and Five Iron Frenzy headlining, the event attracted over 3000 people. The event consisted of music, a testimony from P.O.D’s lead singer, Sonny Sandoval, a relevant message from Burden, clips of on the street interviews with local people about their views on God, heaven, etc., and an opportunity for individuals with questions about spirituality to talk after the event.
Because of the success of the event, a local church asked Burden to head their Gen X ministry. At the time, only 20 people were attending. Burden educated himself on postmodernism and applied its methods to the ministry. Using film clips, relevant messages and alternative worship music, he watched the numbers grow from 20 to 200. Yet, through the experience of the event and the Gen X ministry, Burden realized that something was missing. RELEVANT sat down with him at a local coffee shop to talk about the core elements of postmodern ministry and how God is impacting the world.
[RELEVANT magazine:] What [are your thoughts] about relevancy and the postmodern ministry?
[JASON BURDEN:] I think we should be relevant. But, if you don’t have the core issues figured out, you can be relevant all you want, and the affect is minimal, compared to what it could be, if God is at the center.”
[RM:] So what do you suggest?
[JB:] Until the body of Christ, I believe, begins to pray, fast and consecrate itself and realize that there needs to be a desperation for God, we will not see spiritual transformation in this nation, let alone social transformation, which is always the result of a moving of God across a people.
[RM:] How does that apply to postmodern ministry?
[JB:] When we look at any major move of God in the history of the church, there are some indicators. It started with prayer. It started with consecration. It started with desperateness for God. Until we get to that point, we’re wasting a lot of our time.
[RM:] Is the concentration too much on methods and relevancy?
[JB:] I’ve noticed in my own life, and I have seen across many other ministries who are trying so hard to be relevant, that it’s very easy to idolize. If we do everything that those who are trying to engage that culture say we should do, and I do that in a cookie cutter fashion, you’d think it would work. And you know what? it will work to some degree, because they will reach people. But for me, my answers and my relevancy are nothing compared to what needs to happen. So, I don’t have all the answers. But, until we repent of not being effective God influencers in our world, we’re not going to see anything great happen in this country spiritually.
[RM:] What do you see happening in other countries?
[JB:] I’m traveling all over the world. Latin America. China. India. Africa a lot. Going into the regions of the world where statistically God is breaking out everywhere. Many of these countries don’t have resources. They don’t have the ideas we have. They don’t have the magazines and the television programs. But, we’ve got more missionaries coming into America from Korea and all other parts of the world because they’re seeing more of God in their own country than they are here. They’re concerned about this nation. A friend of mine from Guatemala said, “We’re training for America right now in our part of the world, because America is in need of a spiritual awakening. We are desperately praying that God will renew that country.”
[RM:] So what does it mean for us in this country?
[JB:] There are a lot of things that are working, and there are a lot of men and women of God who are doing exactly what God wants them to do. That’s awesome. I’m not downing everybody, but I am saying from my own experience and what I’m seeing around the world, I think the spiritual bar has become so low, our expectations are so low, we don’t know any different here. That’s why I love taking people on short-term mission trips to show them what God is doing around the world. They come back here and they say, “Why isn’t that happening here?”
[RM:] What are some ideas that you would like to do?
[JB:] Part of me doesn’t want to say too much because it is a little premature. But I envision a group of people coming together who want nothing more than to seek God. I have this desire to bring people together who want nothing but God, Who want to know the Word of God and its depth and its richness. And then we get together and we pray. We consecrate ourselves to God. We don’t have all the answers. We’ve got some tools. God, we want to take all that and use it for your glory.
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