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Church Communications

Presenting the gospel in a world of 8 second attention spans

In 2013, a study put the average attention span at 8 seconds, down from 12 seconds ten years ago.

short-attention-spanThis is a real challenge for Christian communicators.

How do we tell our stories and share the gospel in this new always-on and hyper-distracted world?

Does it matter?

Yes, it matters, for three reasons.

FIRST, it reminds us that we only have a limited amount of time to capture our audience’s attention. The focus needs to be on the audience and creating high quality, compelling short and long form content that speaks to their needs. The answer is not to cram a 30-minute sermon into a 30-second clip.

SECOND, we need to expand beyond event-based, campaign-type thinking to becoming always-on content providers. This can be done through over-the-top (OTT) video services and content networks or by building interactivity around managed online broadcast networks and on-demand services.

THIRD, whereas we previously had to rely on sharing the gospel and making key discipleship resources available at key times when people tuned into our broadcast outlets and sites, we now have an audience that is reachable 24/7.  That is really good news for anyone that wants to transmit the gospel and grow disciples online.

Genuinely useful content

Creating content that is genuinely useful is key, whether short or long-form. The contents of the two following videos kept me spellbound after watching a few brief moments.

[Video 1] In this story, two high school students describe what happens when one girl makes a decision for Christ and decides to tell her friends.

[Video 2] Over 30 years ago, Vicky Olivas was left permanently paralyzed after a brutal attack. As Vicky revisits the site for the first time since the attack, she shares the miraculous story of her journey from tragedy and bitter despondency into faith, forgiveness, and freedom in Jesus Christ.

Caution: There’s almost a fanatical obsession with creating short-form content right now. Be aware of the opportunities to go short but wary of getting sucked into it’s limitations. I came across a couple of quotes recently that make the point…

“People say long-form is dead. Long-form is absolutely not dead. What is dead is bad long-form.” -Steve Engelberg

“The tablet and the iPad are amazing, a salvation almost, for [long-form] filmmaking.” -Raney Aronson-Rath

Whatever the length or storytelling format, aim for consistent content excellence. Even a distracted audience will lean in. Then, the results are up to God’s Spirit and the viewers.

[Image by New Media Marketing]