Thursday, May 23, 2013

Why Can We Sit for Three Hours at a Football Game, But Only for Forty Minutes at Church?

The question was asked in the adult class the other night by a 30-ish woman:
Why can we sit for three hours at a football game, but only for forty minutes at church?
I didn't speak up then, for fear my answer might be offensive to those in the class, but here's my answer.

Football Game
You're focused mostly on visuals. You're focused almost exclusively on audio.
You're talking to those around you. You don't interact with others.
You can move around, stand, jump, nap. You're expected to sit quietly, but without napping.
You wear what you're wearing, comfortable clothes. You're expected to be in your "Sunday clothes”.
You can eat, drink, talk/play on your phone. You're not allowed to snack or play during church.
You don't know what the next play will be, or what will be the outcome of the game. You've heard the same message all your life; you know it so well you could preach it.
Although there's lots of down-time, it's punctuated with exciting action. The presentation is generally monotonous.

In short, a football game encourages involvement, whereas a church assembly encourages passivity.

Of course, a church assembly is not a football game, so we shouldn't expect the two venues to have the same "flavor". But much of what makes three hours at a football game pass quickly could be implemented in our assemblies, without harming the purpose of those assemblies.

But it takes a lot of work to add visual aids to a lecture, or better, to convert that lecture into a more interactive learning experience.

It takes wisdom to know what can be discarded as mere tradition and replaced with a more attractive method.

And some saints will be unable to imagine any possible distinction between our traditions and God's ordinances. For such people, any sort of change (good or bad), must be bad, and must be resisted; expect to hear the term "change agent" as a condemnatory charge. These saints are immature, not realizing that we are called to be transformed ("changed") by the renewing of our minds, to discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God (Rom 12:2), and to "grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ" (2 Pet 3:18). We are not to hold tightly to man-made traditions, but to test ourselves, to examine ourselves, to see if we are in the faith (2 Cor 13:5), and if we are not, then change is required. We are to accommodate people where they're at, becoming all things to all people, so that we may by every possible means save some (1 Cor 9:19-22).

If we don't learn to make our assemblies more attractive, what will be the result?

Look at our assemblies; they are dying. This is not because people don't love the Lord, but because they don't love the boredom of our assemblies, because our assemblies are not attractive.

The people of Jesus' day weren't really any different to the people of today; they didn't follow Jesus because he was boring; they followed him because he was exciting. He was teaching new things; he was doing amazing works; he was challenging the authorities; he was moving as he taught, eating as he taught, touching as he taught.

And even the people of sixty, eighty, 200 years ago, who had little escape from the daily trudge and little interaction with others or with fresh ideas, likely thought so highly of church-attendance because it was entertaining to them.

Today we have lots of distractions that are much more fun than sitting passively in a lecture hall, especially if we have to take the time and trouble to change our clothes first, and possibly ruining our only morning to sleep in. We can't do away with those distractions. But we can make our assemblies more attractive by relying less on lectures and passiveness, and more on involvement and interaction and visuals and movement.

Make the assembly more attractive, and our assemblies will grow, and we may find that time at church passes just as quickly as time at a football game.

1 comment:

Sheri said...

During football, you don't have to try to keep your young wiggly children still and quiet. You can go to the bathroom without feeling like a public display.You can boo the players. Try booing in church.