The science and the pop. science has been telling us the truth for ages. We are easily distracted, social media distracts us, and it’s addictive.
I’ve written about that before, and it remains true.
We are living in a heightened context of distraction.
- There is a sense of being part of a permanently breaking news story, which is getting worse by the hour.
- Our social media feeds are more than usually active, because everyone has more to talk about, and some people have more time to say it in.
- Every pastor is having to reinvent church, small groups – the works, and every guru out there has great ideas it’s worth tracking down.
We are therefore more than usually stressed, and more than usually distracted.
If I were a prophet I would say that this is going to die down. Don’t mishear me – I think the virus is real, spreading, and the experience is going to get far, far worse before it gets better.
But I mean that we pastors have to face a number of sudden questions and decisions, and are having to lead up into them – but that those will start to level off. The decision over whether to host groups has been made. We’re still in a turbulence over the mechanics of an online service of some kind, but once we’ve got the answers, that will calm.
Which means we all need to take a deep breath, turn off the news, mute the social media, and focus again.
And that’s going to be hard. Because our brains actually quite like the the novelty, the challenge and the fast pace. Anxiety and excitement are very closely allied experiences, and the two words ‘excitement’ and ‘pastor’ don’t often occur in the same sentence.
Let’s be honest – isn’t part of each one of us enjoying this? Whoever thought we’d have global live-streaming from any church with an iPhone!
But in another part of you, you’re probably looking at your plans and intentions for the next quarter and either sobbing or laughing, depending on your character. You’ve worked out that the risks of losing fringe members, and nearly Christians, are high. Some folk are going to move away from your area – but there aren’t going to be many new people at your church. If any. Online, maybe. But that handshake and contact card? All useless.
There are churches and ministries which are going to collapse in the next few weeks, if not days. Actually, I think the churches most at risk are the largest, where the shepherds don’t know the sheep, and the sheep don’t know their shepherds. Yup, they’re going to do a glossier online than the rest of us – but they’re competing with each other in a high stakes game of ‘virtual’ church.
This is the day where the small, relational church could come into its own.
My generation is facing the greatest leadership challenge of its life, globally and in real time. From the human perspective, the future of the church rests on our actions over the next few weeks.
My generation is facing the greatest leadership challenge of its life, globally and in real time. From the human perspective, the future of the church rests on our actions over the next few weeks, in a way that I’ve never seen before. No-one’s coming to church out of habit. There is no habit.
We shall need to build, all over again.
Yes, when the restrictions are over, there will be celebrations and hugs. But I sense that something will have changed, and it will take hard, intentional effort to work out what that is, and what God is doing through this crisis, for his glory.
And to pray over that, to think, plan, consult and act, will take our best.
Please don’t fritter away the next few months on Netflix. Don’t become addicted to distraction. We pastors have been forced into Sabbath.
Don’t become addicted to distraction. We pastors have been forced into Sabbath.Tweet
4 comments on “Focusing in a time of distraction”
Yes! This is very helpful indeed. Ministry and mission carry on – they just look different. And now, finally, on Wednesday afternoon, it’s time to turn off the internet and get into Genesis 33.
Thank you so much Chris. This is nail on head stuff!