Look around you. It doesn’t take a genius anthropologist to see that our world is changing. And we shouldn’t be shocked since most changes are things that affect us. And we’ve adopted them!
The Church, for the most part, has remained consistent and hasn’t adapted as much change as the rest of the population. This has made our message (that shouldn’t change) feel less relevant and undesirable. An awesome message delivered in an unacceptable method can make the message seem wrong.
The church must adapt. Here’s why:
1. People’s attention spans are dropping.
A 2015 Microsoft study confirmed our short attention spans by revealing that every 8 seconds we want something different. Perhaps it’s the amount of interruptions we’ve gotten used to everywhere: notifications, text bings, screen-sharing advertisements, etc. And yet, our sermons have remained the same length for hundreds of years.
2. People have become consumers.
We all have the ability to compare products and services on our phones and computers. And this isn’t even location-based since we can compare globally for what we’re seeking. So, why would we think people wouldn’t want to compare churches to see what’s best for them? This will only get “worse” while we enjoy the benefits of getting what’s “best” for us in the process. We’ve all become consumers in practice!
3. People endure noise by ignoring it.
With the overwhelming content that pushes against all our senses, we can’t possibly take it all in. Fear of missing out (FOMO) has given way to ignoring or half-listening. If a church creates ministry noise without a thread to hold it all together, you risk people not engaging with you most of the time. A church must calm the noise (as much as possible).
4. People want you (the subject expert) to do the discovery.
Because of the plethora of available content, people rely on subject matter experts to parse the information into Reader’s Digest snippet information: just the facts that THEY would find interesting. Since you know all your ministry information, they want you to tell them the summary. As briefly as possible.
5. People have stopped reading paragraphs.
Wordiness and long-form writing has given way to bullet points and scannable content. This allows someone to capture a lot of information (or at least the perception of it) in very little time. If your content is perceived as taking too long to read or feels like a boring dense paragraph, most won’t desire to understand it.
6. People don’t understand “church”.
This is the foundational problem in our world for church communication. Don’t assume anyone has a church background - or a baseline of church terminology. For many in our communities, their only church experience comes from movies and TV. And that is, sadly, rarely positive.
BOTTOM LINE: You can attempt to alter the course of world trends or choose to adapt yourself to deliver in a way that “most” understand and are drawn to because of the culture we find ourselves living in. One is easier. Much easier.