In HOPE 7.8                                  back to home                        David Timms

Current Series

This "In HOPE" presents Part 3 in the current series. We've considered Words & Images and Propositions & Stories. This week briefly explores another facet of the future church. If we want to effectively reach our children and grandchildren in an increasingly post-Christian culture, we will want to ponder these possibilities.
Hope Happenings

Hope International University's Chorale, including 38 Hope students, along with Music faculty and staff, will be traveling to Korea from May 21- June 1, 2007. Led by Dr. Joseph Cho, Chair of Hope's Music Department, the Chorale will perform vocal concerts in area churches and Universities.

Hope International University
Fullerton  CA  92831

"Spectacle is not an entirely bad thing ... However, left unchecked, spectacles actually work against the creation of authentic, missional community. Spectacle creates publics, not communities." -- Shane Hipps, 2005.

Structures & Messages

The building, seating arrangement, lighting, platform, and structure of our church services convey a message as strong as anything we articulate verbally.

In 1967, Marshall McLuhan wrote that "the medium is the message." He meant that over a period of time the way we do something (the medium we use) sends a message all of its own, whether we intend it to or not. And this message, subtle but powerful, may be stronger than the words we speak.

The contemporary Church has rarely given serious thought to this truth. Consider the following examples.

If we speak of a priesthood of all believers but the worship team consists of the same group of talented people week in and week out, year in and year out, something else is communicated. The medium (the structure, the roster, the positioning on a platform, etc) may implicitly tell people that professionalism is more highly valued than priesthood; that performance trumps participation; that the church gathers more as an audience than a family.

We may speak of the church "community" but if the gathering of the church is always in rows whereby we look at the back of the heads in front of us as we sit silently in semi-darkness, then the medium (the environment) expresses a contrary message. No level of pulpit-fervor or announcements about small groups can outspeak the seat and lighting configurations.

Big screens are fun to watch but they isolate us from each other. As we watch larger-than-life images, they create something different-than-life. The screen as a two-dimensional experience does something sub-dimensional to our lives.

These examples represent just the tip of the iceberg.How we do what we do, becomes vitally important.

People hear the gospel message but find themselves most profoundly transformed by the methods we use. It won't help to speak louder or more often. The medium is the message. Tender emails cannot produce authentic intimacy. Godly text-messaging cannot ensure deep interest or engagement. Christian Myspace profiles only reveal our calculated selves and foster an artificial, superficial connection.

The church might make some changes in its methods, if it understood the powerful messages contained therein. May we have wisdom and discernment.



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David Timms serves in the Graduate Ministry Department at Hope International University in Fullerton, California. "In HOPE", however, is not an official publication of the University and the views expressed are not necessarily those of the Administrators or Board of the institution. "In HOPE" has been a regular e-publication since January, 2001.