Monday, August 31, 2009
We know today’s generation is so multi-sensory enhanced, that a regular issue in student ministry (youth and college) is the attention span. It’s no wonder church’s reaching the student demographic are applying services that are either shorter, or sensory enhanced. This could be good and bad. What happens is the student minister over stimulates the student to the point when they are ready to move to adult ministries, there’s a sense of let down.Tod Bolsinger looks at something related:
In an Atlantic Monthly article from the summer of 2008 titled, “Is Google Making Us Stupid?” Nicholas Carr argues that while the power and convenience of the internet for research (including finding year-old articles like this one) is truly a world-altering technological advance, it doesn’t come without a cost. Technology changes the way our brains work. After awhile of reading online, we start to read differently. We “skim” constantly; we “bounce” regularly. We can’t follow complex arguments as deeply. We “decode” instead of “interpret”. We prefer the pithy over the complex, the novel over the meaningful (and this article didn’t have anything to say about “Twitter”, which even a year ago wasn’t all that big and is, at least momentarily, the next huge thing: “Oprah Tweets!”…or is it?).Let's return to Smuda for a moment:
We face issues and opportunities, threats and prospects that require us to move beyond what we know, produce, and program, find quickly, skim briefly, and launch rapidly to the kinds of “adaptive shifts” that require us to think deeply, consider complexity, converse repeatedly, and implement wisely. In other words, most of what we need to learn to face the challenges of a rapidly changing world, will require us to think slowly and learn differently. (Which, usually means, slowly. As one person told me, “You only learn as fast as you learn.)
And it seems that our technology is beginning to train this crucial learning skill out of us.
So here is what helped me. I did not eliminate the multi-sensory parts of services that students love. Doing that would be ministry suicide. But there is something all student ministers can do to help the transition from student ministry, to adult ministry. EMPOWERMENT! When you start students off serving at a youthful age, then when they become adults their natural reaction is to serve.And so a dilemma - it is ministry suicide to give students traditional methods of information transmittal, but the new methods cause us to think differently, which calls into question Smuda's answer of "empowerment" because how can we be sure that the same information is getting translated in this new way?
Well, it helps to know that the church has gone through this before. Certainly the spread of literacy changed much. Reading and the cognitive skills it develops certainly changes much. From such was the Reformation born. So however this works out, we have a historical precedent to tell us it will be "OK."
Which brings me to Milt Stanley's link to this piece:
People may not believe a word you say, but they will believe everything you do. When your actions line up with your words the conviction that people will see in you will herald the revolution to those whom God would call. You become greater than mere words, and larger than life. This principle holds true for churches too. We say that we are a loving fellowship, but will we prove it by loving the undeserving? Many can talk the talk; will we walk the walk?There, dear friends, is how we can be assured that THE TRUTH is transmitted to a new generation, one that may perhaps think differently. THE TRUTH is not words, but The Word, and The Word became flesh, and each of us, have just a little bit of that Incarnation in us. The key to continuity of truth through changing technology, methods of learning and modes of thinking is our transformed lives.
What that means is that our first priority if we are to minister in His name, id to work on our own transformation. It's not to master the new forms of communication, it is not to strategize the latest plan to spread the gospel to region X - its to make sure that our lives are transformed by the gospel we seek to spread.
How are you doing on that?