Monday, July 19, 2010

The Desire for Simplicity - How can the church respond?

We live in an incredibly complex world. We have gone from the big 3 broadcast channels to hundreds of cable and satellite channels.

The amount of digital information in the world doubles every 11 hours--an unfathomable rate (see story).

The Internet has brought virtually unlimited amounts news, pictures, books, blogs, videos, and social sites.

And we feel the overwhelming weight of all of this noise. We dread opening our email. There is too much junk email to go through. Too many forwards that are not funny or worth the effort. Too many people who ask questions that require two page answers. Too many people we don't know, with their own agenda, cluttering up our lives.

And the daily choices we have to make--while great in some ways--are overwhelming. Remember the add that highlighted the question at the check out stand, "paper of plastic"? In an overly complex world, even these types of choices can start to overwhelm us.

Our world is longing for simplicity.

For years, consumers responded to having more choices. The more offerings, the greater the appeal to different people. And this is still often the case. But consider the appeal of Google's home page. A single, unadorned text box with no advertising. Simple. No pretense. Nothing else clamoring for our time or attention. Studies have shown that the more you have on your home page, the less people go to it. (Which is one reason I will be reducing the number of choices on MON's home page.)

And despite all of the interest in customization--still a huge desire--it is ironic that the Iphone, with its 100,000 apps, is not able to be customized in its software (see story). People seem not to have minded. In fact, by having a closed system, Apple has eliminated hackers and spammers. Aren't you glad that you don't have to deal with this on your Iphone?

Businesses--often the first to note cultural trends--are responding to our world's desire for simplicity. There are email filtering technologies. Closet organization systems. Simple billing (cell, Internet, and cable on one bill). Simple diets. Simple exercise routines. Simple wills. Sadly, last week I even saw multiple signs for "Simple Divorce" along the highway.

There is much I want to say and apply to the church on this subject of simplicity. But I don't want to do too much at once. I "simply want to ask:

In seeking to be servants, what areas of people's lives can we--individually and as a church--help simplify? Where do people seem overwhelmed in their time, organization, or choices?

6 comments:

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思恬 said...

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蕙春蕙春 said...

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RWayne said...

There are a lot of examples of simplicity having success. USAToday capitalized on bullet formats and outlines that are easy to read and simultaneously eliminates some degree of study. The King James version was written about 5 or 6 years before Shakespeare died. While Shakespeare was writing, - this above all my son, to thine own self be true, they were down the street using the same language to write the contemporary Bible. In a comparison there was a conclusion that Shakespeare's vocabulary was about 3 times that of the Bible. A lot of 'handbooks' and manuals are written at 6th - 9th grade levels so that they are easy to pick up and use as reference. I find that sort of interesting. It seems that simple straight forward fundamental thoughts are easy to accept and understand.

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James Nored said...

RWayne, thank you for sharing these thoughts. USAToday does indeed succeed largely due to its simplicity. The King James suffers today in comparison for more current versions, in part due to its degree of difficulty in reading.