With the advent of the internet and connected mobile devices, it is likely that most of us are distracted too much of the time. We have instant access to knowledge/facts/data on just about any topic we care to investigate. I can attest that this has had a negative impact on my attention span.
With so many distractions, much of the church has felt the pressure to compete for attention. We have resorted to worship settings with complex lighting, smoke machines, and other effects to produce the feel of a rock concert. Sermons are now expected to have video clips or use pop culture references as illustrations.
Basically the whole worship experience is scripted and has become a very large production geared to attract and keep the attention of a culture that is distracted.
There is nothing wrong with any or all of this as long as we don’t lose sight of the message along the way. We can be so focused on method that we give that method more thought than the message we are called to proclaim. We can be so focused on the Sunday morning experience that we lose sight of day to day discipleship and training.
This is problematic because the church is called to make disciples, while “teaching them to observe all that I commanded you” (Matthew 28:20).
The root meaning of the word disciple is to learn. Therefore, a disciple is fundamentally a student. The original disciples learned from Jesus by living with him 24/7 for several years. We learn from Jesus through study of the Bible.
If we focus exclusively on the method, we might focus too much on the experience and the performance on a Sunday. Indeed, in some “seeker-sensitive” churches I have attended, the Gospel was not readily discernible in either the music or the sermon.
At the other extreme, we can focus so much on the message without sufficient attention to the method of delivery. This can make the worship experience seem dry and lifeless.
One extreme provides a pep talk with little substance. The other extreme provides a lecture that provides little encouragement for real life.
My point in writing this is that as church leaders, we need to hold these in tension and always seek to find balance.
I would think that a good place to start is to observe how Jesus did ministry as recorded in the gospels. The disciples were many things, but bored was not one of them. Jesus confronted the culture around him when necessary but he also was appealing to those who were not accepted by the religious establishment.
We have a lot to learn . . .