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This Trend Might Be Hampering Gospel Activity

I often say that the most difficult part of evangelism is not learning what to say but showing up to say something.

When evangelism participation seems to be lacking from our congregations, it can be frustrating for called workers and members of the evangelism committee.

Lack of confidence, discomfort, and busy schedules are factors that get in the way of spreading God’s Word. But there could be a hidden cultural trend that may affect our participation more than we think.

It’s screen time.

And it’s robbing us of time, meaningful fun, and even participating in gospel activity.

Smart devices are a major technological advancement that has changed our world, but has it made our world better? Recently, experts are addressing this question and their answers seem to be gaining traction.

With the rise of video games, educators coined the phrase “edutainment” as an attempt to blend the fun of playing with viable learning opportunities for school-age children. This concept has evolved and entered the adult world.

Edutainment now includes divulging regularly about news, politics, podcasts, or daily news updates. The problem is that a person may feel like they are learning, but they are really just re-reading the same ideas reinforced over and over again. Scrolling consumes the information passively to entertain or inform with a strong ideological bent. From hobbies to personal interests, from harrowing news updates or political “gotchas”, we can be spurred on towards an “us vs. them” mentality or allow worry and anger be stoked within us.

And it’s all designed with profit in mind.

Companies like Google profit when people over-indulge. Personalities and organizations profit in their influence when people can’t get enough of their content. Metrics, cookies, and powerful algorithms are employed to capture your interests and provide a constant flow of information. Experts are noticing an even higher usage of screen time than before and statistics are supporting the belief that its harming personal health and widening chasms in public discourse.

When we don’t discern our investments of time, we can be overwhelmed with disinformation and discourse rather than the comfort and encouragement received from God’s Word..

It’s hard to consider participating in evangelism activity when our news feed can cause us to be fearful to talk to people or throw our hands up in the air and say, “What’s the point?”

I find it timely and intriguing that the increase of screen time and edutainment is coinciding with a noticeable lack of interest from faithful members to participate in evangelism.

What can we do?

In a culture where there is an overabundance of information, removing inputs is a radical way to learn and exercise discernment. And it can start with us.

This doesn’t mean abandoning our smart phones, but perhaps we can redesign our life where we can thoughtfully and regularly put it aside.

Instead of using screen time for edutainment, we can think of other ways to fill our time that is aligned with who you want to be, and areas we are attempting to grow in.

These thoughts have helped me to be more discerning with my screen time:

  1. Evaluate my down-time activities. The most fulfilling, fun or rewarding time requires discipline and effort. It means setting down my smart phone and invest in that time.
  2. Read How to Break Up with Your Phone by Catherine Price. It’s humorous, eye-opening, and helpful.
  3. Set a rule for myself regarding screen time and design my work and down time to make it easier to stick to that rule. For example, I’m only allowed to schedule edutainment breaks during the day and not in the evening. Weekends are allowed for extended screen time. 

How can we message this to our congregation? 

We do not need to guilt people to put down their smart phones to participate in gospel activity. At best, it’s a short-term resolution to a long-term challenge.

We can demonstrate leadership in our messaging by:

  • Continue to remind people of God’s promises and assurances. This means not trusting in “princes” we elect or follow to solve problems.
  • Caution people to not be sucked in to Google feeds, YouTube videos, or email subscriptions that doesn’t exercise discernment or provide a balanced view on new and politics.
  • Encourage people to evaluate their inputs and discern how its probably not contributing value to their personal life, relationships, and who they want to be.

Evangelism participation can be presented as a benefit. It’s an option for people to exercise their faith, enhances their life with time well-spent, and further God’s kingdom.

We praise flowing from our lips, we can’t help but proclaim what Christ has already done for us.

Related Post: How Evangelism Rests on Trust and What You Possess

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