- On June 22, 2010
- 4 Comments
- communication difficulties
Infinitely Wide and Inches Deep, Part 1
I have been reading a great book on the characteristics of different generations and the effect of these different characteristics on worship, especially in a church that has many generations represented in its congregation. Communicating to each of these groups at the same time is very challenging. Let me very briefly give you a couple of educational numbers to think about. I would love to go in depth here, but this is a blog after all. Maybe I should write a book of my own. Here we go. . .
Modern education practice teaches us that all people fall into one of four possible styles of learning. These “learning styles” are described in many ways by several different programs, but the consensus of four different styles appears to be universally agreed upon and the basic communication needs of each group are well established. Most educators know that in order to effectively communicate information, truth, or whatever goal is desired, to everyone in a group, all four of these learning styles must be represented otherwise someone will be left out.
Now, the average older congregation has at least three major generational age groups represented, with most having four or five generations coming to worship. As worship planners and designers we want to be sure that everyone who comes to our church for worship hears the Word and has an opportunity to meet with and praise God in a manner and language that is meaningful to them. Each different generation receives and processes information in its own unique way due to the cultural influences in which they developed the skill of receiving and processing information:
- Born in the 30’s and 40’s is the radio-newspaper-library-encyclopedia generation
- Born in the 40’s and 50’s is the radio-newspaper-library-encyclopedia-(3 channel)television-music(LP and 8track) generation-these are the “boomers”
- Born in the 60’s and 70’s is the radio-newspaper-library-encyclopedia/(cable) television-music (cassette, CD and MTV) generation (that’s me, we’ve been called Gen X)
- Born in the 80’s is the radio-newspaper-library-(what is an)encyclopedia-(cable) television-music (CD, mp3, MTV 1 and 2, VH1 etc.)-early internet-email generation
- To the current born in the 90’s is the radio(I don’t need) newspaper(I don’t read)- encyclopedia(is that the same as Wikipedia)- library (where is that?) -television (satellite HD widescreen surround) –music(more formats than I can count)-high speed always on internet-social networked (who needs email?) generation
(not to mention our born in the 00’s who are beginning to enter late elementary school and of course all the different cultural experiences represented in a multi-national congregation)
So according to modern educational practice, in order to achieve a goal of reaching everyone in a way they can understand, we need to provide opportunities in no less than four different learning styles to no less than 5 different generations, with limited overlap of information receiving and processing skills or experiences. That equals a need of AT LEAST 20 different communication approaches to every worship service. Add in experiences for children and multi-cultural approaches and this can be easily increased to 30 or more. Add in variables for different religious and denominational backgrounds, socio-economic concerns, educational levels, geographical origins even within our own country, and so on and so on. . .
How can we possibly be more than infinitely wide and inches deep?
Next Week: Infinitely Wide and Inches Deep, Part 2
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