A Click-Thru Culture (by Eric Wright)
For the past three months I have been working a full-time job and planting a new church. So when I got my first real day off in three months I wanted to reconnect with my family. So I took my family on a day-trip to the zoo.
It was a beautiful, warm July day. A great day to visit the zoo, and I was in no hurry. I wanted to take my time and enjoy the day, the animals, and especially my family. With me moving at a slower pace than normal, I noticed a common trend among some of the other visitors.
At almost every exhibit we visited I saw the same scene over and over. A parent and child would walk up to the exhibit, look around for about 20 seconds, and then the parent would say to their child, “I guess the animals aren’t in there. Let’s go look at the next one.” But if you stood there and looked around, the animal would often be seen hiding behind a rock or tucked away on a ledge in the corner of the exhibit. Because of their pace or impatience or whatever it was, they missed the most important part of the zoo; the animals. This isn’t much different from your local museum as beautiful works of art only warrant quick glances.
This is very similar to the way we browse the web. Most visitors to a website stay only a few seconds. The average viewer only watches a Youtube video for 6 seconds. Which is understandable if you see some of the things people post on Youtube. Blog posts and news article don’t fair much better. People click-thru after only a few seconds of looking.
We are rushing toward the next thing without taking time to enjoy the beauty and presence of what is in front of us. We are looking for something to excite us, catch our attention, thrill us, or appeal to us all in the first 6 seconds! If we don’t find it we declare, “There is nothing here!” and we move on.
We have turned into a click-thru culture.
The click-thru culture has invaded our spiritual lives and theological reflection as well. It is only natural since it has invaded every other part of our lives. But when we approach our worship, spiritual growth, and our theological reflection with a click-thru mentality we miss the nuance and beauty of God’s presence and His Word. We leave saying, “Where is God? I didn’t see Him!”
I’m no longer interested in catering to the click-thru crowd. They are a fickle and lazy group; needy and selfish. So lately I have been asking a new question, “Who am I going to invest my time in?”
Maybe it is time we as writers, artists, pastors, leaders and theologians care-less about the click-thru crowd and focus on those who take their time. This means asking different questions. Is the church in the business of collecting converts or making disciples? Do we want many people to look at our art for 6 seconds, or do we want a few who passionately love our work? Should we spend our time chasing those who click and leave, or invest in the people who hang around?
This especially applies to those whose critique affects our work. Do we listen to critique of someone with nothing invested in us, or do we listen to the people who are most involved and willing to tell us the truth? As a pastor and as a writer, people have told me how much they disagree with something I have said or written. Some of them are close friends and supporters, and I take their comments to heart. Some of them are drive-bys and click-thrus who are more interested in sharing their opinion than understanding what I’ve said. They just want to spout and leave. Who should have the right to speak that into my life?
The more we cater to and seek after the click-thru crowd…the more we are really chasing the air. Seth Godin says it this way, “Find the right people, those that are willing to listen to what you have to say, and ignore the masses that are just going to race on, unchanged.” We must ask, “Who are we chasing?”
Or, more importantly…
Maybe we should take time to wander. Maybe we need to stop clicking-thru life, and wander through the beautiful fields of God’s Word and presence.
Eric Wright is currently planting an outward focused church in Huber Heights, Ohio. He is a writer, pastor, and amateur theologian, but more importantly he is a father and husband. He blogs at www.themergeblog.com and occasionally tweets @themerge.