Monday, September 6, 2010
The Church on Mute
I just read: "Our message has been muted as we try to communicate from generation to generation." The author (Carol Howard) was talking about how the changes in culture affect the church, systemically and technologically. The article is an excerpt from her book: Reframing Hope: Vital Ministry in a New Generation. However, this one phrase jumped out at me: "Our message has been muted."
This seems to be very true of today's church. We see the preacher talking, but it's like there's no sound coming out of his mouth. Maybe because we don't understand the words. Maybe because he's talking about stuff we just don't care about. Maybe - and this is what seems to be the deepest problem - because we don't see any actions that match the words.
Imagine people in a room doing various activities with a large TV on mute. People may occasionally glance at the screen to see the sports scores or the music video gyrations. But nobody really cares very much about the sound that they're missing. Every now and then, something changes. Every once in a while, someone will see something particularly moving, compelling, or interesting on the screen. Then, that guy shouts, "Hey, turn the volume up! What's going on? What is this?"
The Church is on mute. People are tuning us out. We definitely need to update our language and methods. We definitely need to talk in relevant ways about relevant things. However, the single most important thing we can do is to give people compelling pictures of the gospel through our actions. If we live in dramatically beautiful ways, then people will be spontaneously interested in what we are saying. "What's going on? What is this? Turn the volume up!"