Discerning Church Learning to discern the movement of God's Spirit

Learning from The Daily

As some of you know, I enjoy listening to tech podcasts. Pundits express the implications of current technologies on various platforms. I guess I am geek, but I enjoy listing in. This past week, a panel discussed a recently launched digital newspaper called The Daily. If you go to their Web site, they advertise “New Times Demand New Journalism.” They tout this experience as a solution to an ever increasing digital world. What caught my attention was the criticism of the panel.

They spoke of The Daily’s failure to understand the digital world. The criticism centered on the failure to leave the old model behind. Jason Snell, of [MacWord.com](http://www.macworld.com/ “Apple, Mac, iPhone, iPad, and iPod Reviews, Help, Tips, and News Macworld”), spoke about how early television was simply a transfer of the stage play to a new medium. If you watch early TV, it looks just like a stage play. In time, people discovered that the world of television was entirely different. Snell accuses The Daily of doing the same. Snell describes the shortcomings.

If you look at the content of it, it looks just like USA Today. . . One the great failings of The Daily is the opportunity to dig down. . . Why not put a link on the story and allow the reader to go deeper.

In the newspaper era, space was limited. The editor had to decide how deep to dig. In the Internet age, you can go as deep a you like. You are not limited by space. Snell explains,

The idea that we have run out of space is such old media ways of thinking.

Snell also describes the way that Soduku and crossword puzzles were added to the application.

They put in a Soduku and crossword puzzle. The only reason you do something like this is because 20th century newspaper had those kind of features. . . There are apps for that, you don’t need those features in the new way of thinking.

As I listed to this discussion, I thought of the church. We often make the same mistakes in attempting to relate to our new world. We often take old models and lay them on top of new mediums.

Alan Hirsch and Michael Frost in The Shaping of Things to Come describe the failure of churches to respond to the cultural changes of the new era. They explain,

The heart of the problem is that we have been planting churches that are (smaller) carbon copies of the already beleaguered, failing Christendom-style church. . . The existing church, which is invariably static, rooted in one place, institutionalized, needs to recover its sent-ness in order to become the missional church. – The Shaping of Things to Come, p. 18

There is much to this point. Nevertheless, the world is changing and we need to respond. We cannot simply resuscitate models from the 1950s. We must carefully discern how God would have us relate in this new world. Too many churches are following the path of The Daily; we are failing to think critically about the changes in our culture. We are simply duplicating old models with new technology. May we be pioneers in our new world as we are led by the Spirit of God.

Note: The podcast that I am referring to is MacBreak Weekly Episode 233. The book is The Shaping of Things to Come by Alan Hirsch and Michael Frost.