The Three Minute Dare

I dare you to watch this three minute video. Give it your full attention. Then we’ll discuss.

Well… how hard was it?

While this video may be kind of a parody of our current culture, there is much truth in it.

And how we communicate as leaders.

It is VERY hard for many to concentrate on anything for very long.

For me, it’s not so much hard to concentrate.  I can do that.  I have trouble unplugging and relaxing.

For those of us in the church, we do have to be sensitive to how people communicate today.

While many people are communicating best in snippits (i.e. 140 characters or a single picture); we are asking people to give us their undivided attention for an hour and fifteen minutes on Sunday mornings.

For many people, it’s hard.

In the day and age of short; we still preach, uninterrupted for 30, 40, even 50 minutes, trying to pop the word ‘gospel’ in there as many times as possible.

And that’s all good.

But understand, it’s a stretch for many people.

People with phones buzzing in their pockets.

It’s killing them.  You’re killing them.

What am I suggesting?

I have no idea.

But here are a couple of things, just off the top of my head:

1.  Why not try this week to tweet your sermon.  Take this week’s message, however long it is, and find 20-30 tweetable moments.  Wake-up call:  if you can’t find 20-30 tweetable moments in your sermon… well… that’s not a good omen.

2.  Take 30 minutes and record 3-5 short youtube videos to engage your Sunday attenders throughout the week. Just a webcam and 30 minutes required.  Post them to youtube; and add them to facebook and twitter.

Look.  I’m not suggesting you compromise the gospel.

I’m not even suggesting that you cut the time of your sermon back by 20% (although I hear a roaring crowd from the congregation on that one)  🙂  I’m just asking you to consider how your people are communicating and consuming; and try to fit your message into that mold so that you can have a greater impact on their lives.

After all… isn’t that why you got into this job?



  • Bob July 1, 2014 Reply

    Excellent message!

  • Trapper July 1, 2014 Reply

    Can I use a browser plugin to download the actual file being streamed so that I can get it on my harddrive and use my own media player to play it back at 125-233% of normal speed??!? That’s what I do with everything else, and you didn’t say I couldn’t!

    How do I know I can watch / listen to things at up to 233% of normal speed? Easy….I continuously do it and experiment. Name a TV show, news program, radio podcast, whatever, and I can tell you the speed at which you should be able to easily consume it….”Honey Boo Boo” is the only thing that can’t be sped up….might as well be a dang ol’ foreign language they’re speaking, I’ll tell you whut……

    And 233%….well over *twice* the rate of real life….what/who can one listen to at that rate and still perfectly understand it? That’s the pastor at my now *previous* church. Not only was he the typical kind of guy who, showing NO concern for those he intended to be listeners, used far too many words to try to communicate an idea, he spoke relatively slowly while doing it, probably lacking the talent, preparation, and confidence to just come out and get it done.

    I and many others left….weekly attendance dropped 75%, that I know of….”that I know of” because that’s what it was when that church stopped releasing its weekly attendance and giving. Staff left, too….that lack of clarity in thinking, slowness and reluctance in getting to a point, and making a good percentage of stuff up as he went along could be found in other areas of his professional life, too, and that was intolerable to the good ones.

    Guys, you simply MUST think, plan, think, narrow, think, cut, tweak, edit, and chunkify your messages…..otherwise, you’ll be replaced by someone people get over the internet. And don’t think you can rely on that “let’s work on deepening relationships and one-another-ing one another so people don’t leave” idea… will be replaced in their lives, and they WILL leave.

  • Steve Miller July 3, 2014 Reply

    It is not about you. You aren’t the central figure in your life story, God is. You are not indispensable when it comes to holding things together. Life will go on fine without you. You are pretty impotent and insignificant in the grand scheme of things. Your kingdom will pass in a season, but God’s is eternal. Stop and focus not on you, or what you are doing, but Who is really in charge and why you do what you do.

    Not real popular messages, but all true. Sunday is where we stop our activity and focus on what really matters, Jesus. It is uncomfortable to hit full stop and rest after a week full of cramming more and more in.

    If you can’t turn off the smartphone and focus solely on God, you have an idol in your life. If focusing on Jesus for an hour is too much for you then your idol has weakened your appetite. Idol strongholds don’t tend to get Christians to go completely in the wrong direction, rather our idols curve our forward progress because they pull us in another direction; that is what a curve is, trying to go in two directions at once. The end result is we are unfocused and half hearted in our devotion. Our worship is corrupted by fleshly appetites and attitudes.

    There are two issues being addressed in this post, contextualization by pastors using social media and the corruption of the spiritual appetite of the church. The two may have some common grounds, but one is not the solution for the other.

    Savvy pastors will learn how to use social media or hire the next generation of leaders to help them do so, but the preacher must never deviate from preaching the gospel even if the appetite of his congregation is weak. The pastor must always give the congregation what the spirit needs, not what the flesh wants.

    • Mike Decious July 7, 2014 Reply

      Both Steve Miller and Trapper have great things to say. Both the content and the form are important. The most important is loving God, and another is like it, loving your neighbor.

  • Trapper July 3, 2014 Reply

    Those of that theological and doctrinal ilk that always demonstrates desire for top-down control rather than bottom-up influence through service would do well to recognize that that first line (“It’s not about you”) refers to them, most of all.

    But you go ahead and keep being how you are and doing what you do… makes you easy for the rest of us to identify.

    • Steve Miller July 7, 2014 Reply

      That is a weird thing to say since I have no top down control and can only exercise influence from the bottom up. Maybe the-top-down-controllers aren’t as easy to identify as you think? Besides if you equate worship with control maybe there are bigger concepts you need to clarify in your own mind? You do get one thing right, good leaders always recognize it isn’t about them, they serve only by God’s grace.

  • Greg Surratt July 7, 2014 Reply

    Todd, I don’t disagree entirely with your premise, however I think there is other data in entertainment art forms.

    For instance: In our sound bite culture, movies are longer than ever, Broadway shows are still at least 90 minutes and most of the top TV shows are an hour.

    The expectation varies, depending on the medium.

    On the other hand, if our services are as poorly lit and boring as the above video clip, then the shorter the better 🙂

    • rickchromey July 7, 2014 Reply

      Have you watched a movie or hour-long TV show lately? The reason they can sustain 60+ minutes is the “snippet” strategy (quick cuts, multiple camera angles, commercial breaks, etc.). The TV/movie industry is a reason for short attention spans. Movies are also now 3D and in surround-sound. It’s an experience. This video is a hoot, imho. And something every preaching class should watch.

      What’s happened in the past 50 years, and more specifically, the last 15 years is a rise in visual, mobile and web-driven content that’s fast, fluid and brief. Television changed us and started a decades long decline in the attention span, but YouTube, Twitter and Facebook has ushered in a new age of 3-minutes and out. Long messages bore the postmodern mind (under 50 crowd) just like short messages agitate the modern mind (over 50 crowd).

      But the times, they have changed. Dylan’s ode is past history.

      Postmodern generations are staying away from church in droves. Why? It’s boring. It’s the number one reason I get when I ask them, followed closely by people who go to church are hypocrites, holier-than-thous and/or fanatics (a media message they’ve swallowed hook, line and sinker).

      It’s time to reimagine the sermon (more a product of the Reformation and Enlightenment) than historic and biblical example. I just finished writing a new book that’ll be published in January 2015 on this very subject. There are answers, and Todd’s are good ones, but they won’t be easy for a modern boomer-driven church to swallow, especially one that’s currently addicted to performance, program and passivity.

      It’s time to revolutionize how we preach.

  • James July 7, 2014 Reply

    Another home run in the controversial, stimulating arena.

    A lot of good things shared and pertinent to our present world.

    I’d like to offer just a couple items to the discussion. First of all we’ll never influence or change this culture with the same, old, techniques and tactics that worked 10, 15, 20 years ago.

    The gospel is the gospel, how it’s packaged is all about relating that message to “this” generation, not justifying this generations lack of interest because of being distracted by new gadgets.

    And if we only adopt new techniques without really changing our own inner man, heart, and focus no amount of lighting, stage presentations, entertainment type of church will attract them.

    I’ve observed several churches in our area who advertise they are doing “church” differently. Come to us, we’re “different, new, vibrant.”

    In my observation the only thing different are the names and faces of the leaders, denomination, group etc. Same old contemporary music, bands, preaching styles with power-point, flashing light shows etc.

    Beneath it all is a motivation to “grow” their church. And beneath it all are leaders ill equipped to lead, and ill equipped to present anything “new” because theirs nothing new they have to offer in terms of message, delivery, style, content.

    So when we talk about the gospel, what are we really talking about? So much of what we’re saying is driven by “sin” management principles and commitment to a specific religious tribe. The doors are open, “if” you agree to our creed, form, etc.

    My personal belief is that this generation has run to technology because it’s the only game that offers something living and appears to be “alive”. Gives some resemblance of connecting with people, relationships, information, practical day to information. Appears! Okay?
    It’s not real, but compared to the shallowness of most churches, the empty promises made from the pulpit, the internet is a better alternative.

    People gravitate toward what works! And the modern church isn’t working. The message isn’t so much deluded, it simply isn’t there.

    For sure there’s no going back. NO getting the cow back in the barn so to speak. So let’s take what isn’t working and be honest about it, and take a risk to go beyond techniques and tricks, be real and talk about issues that boomers, busters, Gen-X, etc. really are dealing with. And don’t hand them, a “Jesus” answer, give them Jesus with a real hand connected to it. Which isn’t doctrine, theology, religious lingo and legaleze.

    Life is messy, complex, mysterious and always unpredictable. Take another look at Jesus, thru his lens, not through our own interpretation or some denominations. It’s hard to be real, relevant, contemporary, open, non-religious.
    P.S. Sorry for this being so long, It didn’t start out that way.

  • Shari July 7, 2014 Reply

    I got 48 seconds in before I started scrolling down and reading comments 😐

  • Nathan Ransil July 7, 2014 Reply

    Was his clock running backwards, or am I just really tired? And was that metaphorical symbolism, or just a weird clock?

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