When I was teaching digital media in a local polytechnic, we used to have a term to describe the technological evolution that is happening to TV media.
TV media of yesteryears is referred to as “laid-back” entertainment technology. We picture a viewer slumped on his sofa with a TV remote control. He is a passive receiver letting the pre-set TV content to flood his senses and entertain him. He is disengaged from the content, at most a side-line critic. Upon boredom or dislike, he switches to other channel flippantly. He is uncommitted, turns on and off the TV as and when he pleases, showing little regard to the content creators. As far as he is concerned, he is just a paying consumer.
TV media of tomorrow is referred to as “lean-forward” entertainment technology. Here, the viewer is an active contributor. He sits on the edge of his sofa, and interacts with the TV content through immersive and interactive inputs. His contributions impact how the TV content is being presented.
His engagement leads him to the ownership of content. He therefore becomes a committed participant.
I have been thinking if our church is a “laid-back” or a “lean-forward” congregation.
A laid-back congregation consists of pew warmers and church hoppers. It consists of passive users who seek to experience dynamic worship sessions and/or motivational messages. They ask: “how can the church serve my needs?” They however avoid commitment and desire to hide in the crowd. They are disengaged from the body life. At most they are side-line critics who may be quick to commend the church on what is good, but also quick to judge the gaps and ills of the church. They have little regard to the presence of the Leader of the congregation, and come in late and leave early, as they so desire.
A lean-forward congregation consists of active members who are engaged in the congregation life. They not only look forward for Spirit-filled worship sessions and Christ-centred sermons, but also acknowledge they are a vital part of the body of Christ. They are committed to the local body and ask: “how can I participate in the body life?” They stand in the gaps, and roll up their sleeves to serve the Body of Christ. They recognize the presence of the Leader in the local assembly and come as His worshippers and not as consumers.
Living in an affluent society, we are endowed with the dangerous powers of choice and purchase. This consumerist behaviour tends to gravitate us towards a laid-back posture. We are so used to expect things to be done well according to our expectations, for our personal usage and convenience.
The Leader of the congregation, Jesus Christ, says that whomever wishes to follow Him must deny themselves and take up their crosses to follow Him daily. Thus Jesus preaches a lean-forward discipleship, whereby we bend forward to take up our crosses to follow Him.
May we overcome the snares of worldliness and not be laid-back consumers.
By Rick Toh, Lead Pastor/Elder (YCKC Bulletin 1&2 August 2015)