4 hours of TV
5,000 visual advertisements
8.5 hours in front of digital screens
That is a profile of the average North American's life EVERY SINGLE DAY.
Hello! Did you note that - Every single day.
Martin Luther transformed western civilization as well as the church by using the tools of his day to communicate - the Guttenberg printing press, translating the Bible into the language of the people, bring songs from the Beer Halls into the sanctuary.
Part of my experiment at Hammonasset with the Text and Talk session with the youth was an attempt to embrace a technological tool and use it for Gospel communication. Rather than telling teenagers, "OK it's time to sit quietly and listen to the bishop." I opted to for "pull out your smart phones and text me any question you like." I learned two things from this experiment:
1. Teens will respond if you engage them and invite them into a conversation. They asked silly question, of course, but that made it fun, and I was willing to be playful. But, they also asked significantly profound questions: "Why are most prayers not answered? Why is there suffering? What is the Holy Spirit? What's so good about being a Lutheran?" After the session I had several interactions with kids, one girl really pressed me hard with a simple question: "Why Jesus?" She was not satisfied with my short pithy answer, she wanted more, so she pressed me again, and then again a third time. Was she challenging me, playing with me, showing off in front of her friends or did she really want to know why Jesus made any real difference in my life? My answer was to tell my story of connecting with Jesus - not church, not Lutheran, not doctrine, but Jesus. I finished, she looked at me and nodded in affirmation.
2. I also learned that we are overcomplicating our efforts to get the gospel connection going. I realized that we don't need more programs, education, information, committees, a new book, a new how to manual with steps. What we need is honesty? Think for a moment. Why do you believe? What do you beleive? What do you doubt? What do you wonder about? Those questions can form the basis for a lifetime of discussion and learning. Why Jesus? such a simple, yet profound question.
The title of this blog post was inspired by an event that is happening on the left coast out in Hollyweird, CA. If I had the time, money and beam me up Scotty transport options - I'd be there. Check it out here. But, I don't, so I can't. However, we need to get real serious real fast about how we communicate, especially with young people, but actually with everybody. I'd love to hear what you are trying. How are you experimenting with preaching, worship, teaching, discipling? What's working, what failures led you to new and better ideas? Post in the comment section below or on Facebook or Twitter.