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  • Writer's pictureBob Brown, Pastor

McNuggetism and Attention Span in the Church

We are living in a day of extremely short attention spans. Our entire culture has an attention span deficiency. A 2015 study, commissioned by Microsoft and discussed in Time magazine, found that the average attention span was in fact only eight seconds; being down from twelve seconds in 2000. Mind you that the attention span of a Goldfish is nine seconds. Television shows now break for commercials every eight to ten minutes, so we have been trained over the last fifty years to have shorter and shorter attention spans.

With computers and smartphones, we click and change whenever we want something new (which is what Microsoft’s eight-second attention span for a web page was referring to). We have so much information coming at us that we cannot hold it all. Our brains have been rewired. We think in what someone has referred to as “McNugget Time,” continually in a flow of unfiltered garbage mixed with helpful, relevant tidbits. The trash floods into our minds as the last hit of dopamine accelerates our brains for yet another hit.

If I’m sitting in my chair and a commercial comes on, standing in a long line at the store, waiting for a table at a restaurant, or even waiting on the coffee pot to brew, I can’t help but reflexively reach for my phone. We have a difficult time with sustained concentration. We have lost the art of meditation and how to think deeply. It’s hard for us, and anything hard for us, we dislike.

Professing Christians are finding it difficult to think deeply and meditate on biblical truth. I overwhelm some of you with preaching that goes beyond fifteen minutes because we want little bite-sized, golden nuggets of practical advice. Soundbites, really. “I don’t want to have to think too hard…just tell me what to do and do it in the most interesting way as you can, as quickly as you can or I’m going to pull out my smartphone and read Facebook while you preach. Who knows, I might even do some online shopping.”

I encourage you to go beyond McNuggetism and be challenged to dive deeper and longer into God’s truth.

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