The Secret Powers of Time

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Posted 13 Jul 2010 in Friends, GCM, Illini Life, Jesus, Ministry, Scripture, Spirituality, Technology, Videos

This video has inspired a lot of dialogue between several close friends and colleagues in ministry. We’re asking questions of one another like “How do we change to meet this culture?” “Should we change to meet it?” “Are we called to stretch them out of a short attention span?”

Throughout my years of working with college-aged folks it’s become apparent that in order for me to get someone’s attention I need to be communicating in the medium they do. This is essential for the initial phase of getting to know someone but quickly dissipates as a relationship is formed.

I don’t think college-aged folks are hurting as far as relational interaction anymore today than they were 5 years ago. But the question this video raises for me is how do we get to a relational interaction? How do we move from strangers in the Starbucks to sanctified students of Christ?

I believe we continue adapting the way we communicate at SNG (our Saturday night large group gathering where we teach on topics relevant to college-aged folks), we hold their attention with story and interaction – bringing to life the Gospel in all it’s richness. We adapt the way we interact and exchange small talk and build our friendships. And in Home Fellowship (our community groups focused on sharing our lives together) and discipleship times we work to stretch their patience and teach them to be nourished spiritually apart from fast food and microwave spirituality. We teach them to slow down, we teach them to listen for a God who whispers in the silence.

I’ll end with an example that I think illustrates my point well. Several years ago the Home Fellowship I was apart of didn’t have any students willing or able to lead a dorm based outreach group, so I went back into the dorms to lead at 25 years old – noticeably out of place. As my fellow “old people” and I called through our list of students interested in attending we hardly reached anyone. Noticing that most were cell phones we decided to try texting to reach each person, in many cases we received immediate responses.

We adapted our communication medium and style to that of the natives and it was more fruitful. Several of those text messages resulted in friendships, none of which remained in a discipleing over text message medium, but rather patience-stretching one-on-one times. At our weekly times I watched as the semester progressed and they started to put away their cell phones and not answer text messages while we discussed. Still initiating a meeting or a ride to service was always best done over text message – their native language.

The last thought or question I have would be, do we sacrifice The Gospel, truth about sanctification, etc by adapting the WAY we communicate these truths? IE putting it in movable type for a printing press to be read by individuals instead of handwritten and orated to the people.

I’m sure readers familiar with Marshall McLuhan will have much to say on this topic.


  1. Amy

    Tangential: Maybe I’m old, but I actually found the pace of the video difficult to keep up with and kept wanting him to slow down a bit so I could follow his drawings and think about his points a bit more rather than being swept along from one thing to another. I adjusted about 2 minutes in when I started to be able to put all the information together toward his point.

    Interesting stuff to think about. I agree, I think, that young people are still interacting socially, it’s just a matter of figuring out how that may look different now than it used to.

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