Remember when families used to sit around and listen to the radio together because there were no televisions yet? Remember when televisions came into the home and replaced the radio? Remember when the ability to record TV enabled families to watch shows whenever they wanted? And remember when you could stream shows and movies straight to your portable device or phone?
Remember when advertisers used to buy airtime on the radio? How about when advertisers had to begin thinking visually as they created television spots? Or do you recall the first time you watched a digitally-recorded television show and were able to fast-forward through every commercial??
With every transition in media technology, the advertising industry has been forced to adapt. As more and more people use social media as their primary source for daily news and entertainment, companies have been trying to keep up by transforming their marketing strategies.
Recently released by Twitter, Vine may once again change the face of advertising. Instead of radio spots or television commercials (not to mention the sudden decline of print advertising), Vine offers users the ability to create and post 6-second GIF videos.
Todd Wasserman, of Mashable.com, shares about several companies who have already started to experiment with Twitter’s new service. Wasserman asks the question, “Will the :06 become the new :30 in the ad world?”
As a teacher of God’s Word, I already face the difficult task of encouraging people to spend time in Scripture. I wish I could say that this challenge is particularly daunting with teenagers, but I’ve come to find that adults today have just as much trouble finding the discipline to sit down and intentionally read their Bibles.
In our ever-increasing world of sound-bites, people today stop paying attention after more than a few seconds. When daily Scripture verses can be sent to their email accounts or show up on their Twitter feed, people think, “I’ve heard my sound-bite of Scripture for the day.”
The memorization of large sections of Scripture has been replaced by keeping a couple favorite verses in one’s back pocket—and they’re usually paraphrased at that! I’m afraid to see how this trend will continue on its current trajectory!
I can picture John 3:16 going from, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life,” to “For God so loved the world…”
That changes things! When we begin to chop up Scripture we start leaving out key aspects of various passages. Sure, this would focus on God’s love, but it completely forgets about the True Vine, Jesus Christ, and the response that is necessary for those who love and follow Him.
Now, I would hope that this scenario is more hyperbolic than realistic, but we can regularly see the results of such thinking in all sorts of theological circles.
As our attention spans get smaller and smaller, I pray that our Scriptural spans will not follow. But I’m afraid that’s idealistic thinking. The question that emerges is, “If the :06 becomes the new :30 in the ad world, how does the Church respond?”
Some may say, “We need to find creative ways to communicate the gospel in :06.” These accomodationists will most likely jump all over Twitter’s new Vine service and find success in doing so. I am not against this. In fact, I wouldn’t put it past me to join those in this challenge!
However, as I seek to live intensionally, I will press on even harder to get those with whom I worship to seek intentional discipleship, to push back against the sound-bite trends of society by practicing discipline in their reading of Scripture.
Discipleship is tough. Discipline is required. But we cannot afford to lose the significance of the Christian story, simply because our attention spans have become too short to spend time reading Scripture.
Ignoring cultural trends will leave us naïve, isolated and completely irrelevant to the world. Yet on the other hand, giving in completely to those cultural trends without challenging individuals to recognize them, and to make a conscious effort to subvert them, will lead to such a watered-down gospel that we will have nothing significant to offer the world in the first place.
Even in our practices of social media, may we learn to live intensionally.