Friday, May 20, 2011

Holy Attention Span

What Does God Think of Entertainment?

In Leadership Journal this week, John Ortberg provides a lengthy discussion of modern church services and asks if entertaining congregants is a gift, a tool, or trap. A brief except from the full article:

What are people able to absorb?

In the 1858 senatorial campaign, Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas debated each other seven times across the state of Illinois. The format was formidable: the first speaker had 60 minutes; then came a 90-minute rebuttal, then a 30-minute response.

Three hours of political speech. People attended by the tens of thousands—and actually paid attention. Why? It wasn't because they were morally or politically superior to our generation. And it certainly was not because they were more educated.

It was because they had nothing better to do.

There were no TV shows, computer games, movies, DVDs, YouTubes, iPods, iPads, iPhones, or home theaters. They did not suffer from information overload. Three hours of political debate by brilliant minds felt like a treat for minds that had never gotten used to outside stimulation competing for their attention.

If you are raised on nothing but broccoli, an apple tastes like dessert. If you are raised in the Cheesecake Factory, an apple tastes like punishment.

We are doing church for a society raised in the Cheesecake Factory.

1 comment:

Retriever said...

Good post. But I still like half hour sermons. If they are good ones...(our current pastor's are not, so I suffer and fidget and fight sleep all through church). All I ask of church? A solemn High Mass (Anglican is nice) with traditional music and a professional choir, or choirboys or choir girls, well trained (my girls sang in such a choir). Plus a rousing evangelical sermon with solid Scriptural scholarship and good literary and topical references and a pastor who isn't a narcissist. Who will tell stories on themself, that make him or her look bad so the rest of us can relate.

Right now, I stay at my church for the sake of the congregation (loving, Godly, good people) but suffer thru the services.