Why are our congregations in decline?
The last thing we want to do is to oversimplify our answer to this question.
Communication is ChangingThe truth is, just as with print media, the music industry, telephones, or other communications enterprises, much of how we do business in the church (also a communication enterprise) is changing forever.
The Gospel never changes but the medium (scrolls, manuscripts, codices/books, proclama- tion, radio, TV, internet, smart phones) in which the Gospel is communicated is changing. It has changed before. It will change again in the future. Communication, for all of human history, has tended to improve; this is a good thing!
Along with having a message to communicate (the Gospel), we the church are also an interactive community. We are the Body of Christ.
Digital and Face-to-FaceReal, face-to-face communication will never be replaced by electronics. However, what we do when we are face-to-face is already changing for the better.
Light conversation can take place online or with a text message:
- Where were we going to meet again?
- Did you find that shirt you were looking for?
- Are you in town?
- Did you pick up the milk?
- Do you feel like you are in the right job?
- Is your mother feeling better after her surgery?
- How are things with your soul?
- Can I pray with you?
BlackberryBush Embraces the Revolution
The BlackberryBush Course is perhaps one of the first resources for churches that recognize this revolution in communication and community. It is a blend of electronic communication and face time. The teaching content, which is less personal, is streamed in. If you have a tablet and a flat screen, you are set. However, the actual learning—the group interaction—is deeply personal and transformational.
This is how humans have always learned, by processing information together in a small group. Neither alone nor in a crowd is the best venue for learning. A table full of real people in real time will always be optimum for generating real, practical, spiritual wisdom; even 1,000 years from now.
Reinventing our Interactions
Church services from around 1500 (with the advent of the printing press) until now have not facilitated this very well. There is very little opportunity for adults to interact with the content of the Christian faith.
Sunday mornings tend to be one-way communication (like television). Small groups, after a while, tend to de-generate into ‘newsy’, chat sessions with little content or growth.
The BlackberryBush Course strikes a solid and healthy balance between the two, with high level instruction followed by double the instruction time in process-oriented personal interaction.
The church is not dying. However, the old way of communicating (the print-era church service) is having trouble attracting or holding attendance.
The old way of communicating isn’t effective anymore.
It’s time for a new way: BlackberryBush
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