A guest post written by Robert L. Wood
Thirty years ago this summer, MTV rocketed into society putting the music video format front and center. In a three minute time-frame, viewers were enveloped in images and sounds, often with a story from beginning to end. A few months later, USA Today hit the stands, delivering short, easy-to-comprehend stories. Today, the Internet features everything imaginable in quick-hitting, condensed videos, graphics, and stories.
Is it any wonder there is a perception that the under-thirty crowd has a limited attention span and needs an abundance of visual and audio stimulation? Is it any wonder churches feel they are losing this crowd?
Many churches have changed to a more entertaining format to attract this demographic. But is that the answer? Must churches strive to be more entertaining?
The problem is not MTV or USA Today. The problem is our perception that the younger generation has the attention span of a gnat. A limited attention span is a lie. It is the subtle serpent whispering in our ear, the red dragon roaring in our face. It is a lie and must be corrected. The first chapter of Genesis in the Holy Bible clearly explains that man was made in God’s image and likeness and therefore has unlimited attention and infinite understanding. We must never limit what man can do.
If that corrects the misperception about man, is there any need for churches to consider changing? Yes! Churches need to remain fresh and current.
In his Epistle to the Colossians, the Apostle Paul commanded those in the church to “put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him…” This is not a one-time thing. Because our understanding of God is forever increasing, we are continuously being renewed in His image and likeness. Mary Baker Eddy confirms this in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures when she wrote, “…progress is the law of God…” Churches must also reflect this progress, this renewal, as well.
No one should change for change’s sake, but it is clear that the Christian Science movement is experiencing a renaissance, a call-to-action for all to get involved in this renewal. In her definition of church, Mrs. Eddy includes the idea of “rousing the dormant understanding…” We must continually be alert to complacency, to allowing our thought to become stagnant, or to have our services become rote.
Mrs. Eddy answers the question how one can “progress most rapidly in the understanding of Christian Science?” by saying “Study thoroughly the letter and imbibe the spirit.” She also said, “Right motives give pinions to thought, and strength and freedom to speech and action.”
Each church must ask what their motive is when wanting to make a change. Attracting more people into church sounds like a right motive, but what is the motive for a larger membership? Is it for a larger collection to keep the church from closing? Is it that membership numbers validate success? Or is it that more members mean that there are more people being blessed by the word of God?
God is infinite, and each service should always be about bringing His message to the community.
From misperceptions about the younger generation, to fears of change within our own churches, we all must recognize what human shackles we have allowed to hold us back. We must break these shackles with progress, renewing daily by moving forward and keeping our churches current and fresh.