Since the birth of digital media in 2005, I’ve had the pleasure of serving numerous church movements and ministry organizations in their various media aspirations. In recent years, as I enter into consultations or speak at their conferences, I find myself talking increasingly less about the usage of technology and media and focusing far more upon understanding the way in which the digital audience engages and consumes media. When we change our gaze away from the “how do” to the “why do” audiences connect with media in the manner in which they do, we are presented fascinating insights into the way contemporary culture wants to “do church.”
I am a Baby Boomer, part of the TV Generation, raised in front of the tube, my picture window to the world. The way in which I engaged with the predominate media of my age was the appointment TV model. At the scheduled time of 8pm on a Thursday night, I would hypnotically walk into my four-walled, living room, sit back on the barca lounger, and passively watch a one way, monologue being broadcasted into my home, by a singular entity, which in this case was a broadcast network. At the conclusion of the program, thirty minutes later, I would compliantly ascend from my comfy chair and commence my departure from the familiar room.
Now, in large part, isn’t that how we do church? We dutifully keep our prescheduled Sunday at 10am appointment at our local church building. We expectantly enter the sanctuary, get settled in our favorite pew, then after an inspiring overture of worship, we passively (with the exception of an occasional “amen”) listen to a one-way monologue, which we call sermons, then politely walk out.
Today’s emerging, millennial generation is a digital generation. How do they engage with the fast developing digital technology? They are not bound to a stationary screen or pre-determined time. They are, throughout their day, whenever and wherever they desire, actively interacting with a multi-sourced, global dialogue on a wide variety of mobile devices.
…meanwhile the church continues to offer a TV model, Analog Church to a Digital Generation!
Now, before you stop reading, I am not advocating throwing the current worship model out with the proverbial bath water. I’m not preaching a gospel of “Instead of…” but the good news of “In addition to…” In future blogs, we’ll explore the chasm that lies between cyber space, digital connections and same space, human interaction. And I’ll offer some ways in which the church can stand in the gap and, presumptuously, regain a bit of our relevancy. My hope is that we will discover a number of things we can do to give place for “digital model” interactivity within today’s appointment church service, as well as deepen our understanding of why these shifts are crucial.
Let us hear your thoughts….