According to a recent survey, American adults spend over 11 hours PER DAY listening to, watching, reading or generally interacting with media. That constant drip of media engagement, much of it partisan echo chambers, is influencing our values and worldview, perspective on the issues of the day, our moods and relationships. It is feeding our anxiety and stealing away our soul’s longing for peace and quiet. Most importantly, we are being effectively “discipled” by this media intake.
Brian McLaren has said, “What you focus on determines what you miss.” This is worth pondering. This is also a depressing reality for pastors to ponder who are called to stand up in the tangled thicket of our media saturated lives and try to get a life-giving word of wisdom through all the noise of our external and internal lives.
I don’t enjoy math for a number of reasons, but one reason is it tends to speak the truth even when I don’t want to hear it. Here’s a truth many weary and discouraged preachers need to grapple with as we put another 20 hours into this next Sunday’s sermon:
A person who attends church on average twice a month will only hear 12 hours of sermon-based teaching the ENTIRE YEAR.
My calculator just pointed out in a sneering tone that 11 hours of media consumption times 365 days equals 4,015 hours of being shaped and molded by Fox News and CNN, Facebook and YouTube, Twitter and Instagram, Netflix and Hulu. This is why I believe the younger generations are actually the most robustly “discipled” generation of all time — probably just not by Jesus and a Sacred Scriptures.
So, pastors who want to help their people think and act Christianly in today’s world, should maybe spend less time preparing sermons, and more time creating and curating good digital content for their people to engage with throughout the week.
Ahhh, to return to the simple days when a person listened to the preacher every Sunday, spent 30 minutes reading the Bible each morning followed by 30 minutes reading the daily newspaper, and then maybe went wild once in a blue moon exchanging latest gossip at the local barber shop.
We’re not in Mayberry anymore. Not even close.
Listen to related conversation in this week’s episode of the Holy Post Podcast titled “Screens & Perpetual Immaturity.”
Read more about MainStreet’s 2020 Vision to reach wider and deeper than the traditional Sunday-centric church model.