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The Silver Lining to Decreasing Attention Spans

When I started grade school, a sharpened pencil and lined paper were about all I needed. When I was in college, my dad got his first home computer, a Commodore Vic 20. In college, I took my grandpa’s manual typewriter which was soon replaced with a bulky IBM 360 computer. And now I’m typing these words on a MacBook Pro that is considered “old,” because I’ve been using it for six years.

It goes without saying that our modes of communication have drastically changed over the years as well. We went from letters to postcards to emails to text messages to tweets to emojis and to snapchat.

According to wired.com the average length of a movie scene has decreased from twelve seconds in 1930 to 2.5 seconds today. If you don’t believe it, just try watching an older movie and see how long your attention span lasts as the scenes change sloooooooowly.

Due to the constant connectivity through smartphones, a recent Microsoft study indicates that we have a shorter attention span than goldfish. Daniel Im writes, “Our attention span has decreased from twelve seconds to eight seconds since the mobile revolution began in the year 2000. If only we could hold our attention for another second or two, we could still claim to have the upper hand on the nine-second attention span of goldfish” (No Silver Bullets, 96).

What does this mean for the church? What does this mean for you? Well, first off, we don’t need to sound the alarm in a state of panic. I stopped in Target the other day and noticed that some of the hot recommended Christmas gifts are vinyl records and cassette tapes. I picked up a Walkman in amazement and wondered why anyone would want to go retro to that extent.

I’m not advocating for people to ditch their iPhones and go back to pencil and lined paper. But shorter attention spans may actually lead people to wonder what they’re missing, and they might yearn for more space and quiet to get back to the long-forgotten joy of having a good conversation.

The digital boom may also lead to another shift for our churches and lives. It may lead to a desire for fewer Facebook friends and more real friends. It may give us greater opportunities to disciple people the old-fashioned way: face to face. Instead of just hearing another sermon online or on a screen, there may be more people who actually want to know their spiritual leaders. Instead of being a number in a pew, more people might want to be someplace where “everybody knows your name” (Cheers).

I’m all for smartphones, Facebook, messaging, texting and tweeting, but not to where the digital overtakes the personal. I am not a prophet nor the son of a prophet, but I predict that in the coming years the Church will have an incredible opportunity to share the Gospel with people who are hungry for what is missing in their lives . . . relationships.

Posted by Rick Grover, Lead Pastor with

Grateful

There’s an old Chinese Proverb that says, “When you drink from the stream, remember the spring.”

We live in a country abounding in resources, prosperity, and freedom. And yet we also experience political divisiveness, violence, economic fluctuations, and natural disasters such as the horrific fires in California leaving a wake of death and destruction.

What causes us to rise above the chaos and celebrate the blessings is to “remember the spring” from which we drink. We are a nation divided politically but united under one Constitution. We see the erosion of Judeo-Christian values, which can also bring a wake-up call to the Church to live out our faith in Christ-like ways. We drink from the stream of freedom, and thus we need to remember the spring of love, sacrifice, and honor that granted us freedom at the founding of our nation.

Likewise, this Thanksgiving season let us remember the spring of Christ’s love, sacrifice, and honor that granted us freedom from sin. “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery” (Galatians 5:1, NIV).

“But whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life” (John 4:14, NIV).

If you drink the water of life, remember the spring of His love that never runs dry. As has been said many times, “Freedom is never free.” Our national freedom came at the cost of many lives. Our spiritual freedom came at the cost of the life of One.

“And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him” (Colossians 2:13-15, ESV).

Let us be grateful for the freedom we have as a nation and let us be grateful for the freedom we have in Christ. And if we drink from the stream of freedom, let us remember the spring from which that freedom flows.

Posted by Rick Grover, Lead Pastor with

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