By Tom Ehrich
Here’s how the so-called “conventional wisdom” gets formed.
Statistics about computer usage come out. A blogger writes a somewhat nuanced article. A lazy headline editor slaps this header on it:
“Users are Ditching PCs for Tablets and Smartphones.”
Someone remembers Apple’s late CEO Steve Jobs famously predicting a “Post-PC era.” And readers say, “This is it! The PC is dead!”
Well, not exactly. If you look at the numbers, it seems just one-third of PC users are using their desktops and laptops less for content-consumption activities such as browsing the Internet, scanning Facebook, playing games and reading books. They are using their tablets and smartphones more for those activities.
The rest of PC users still use their desktop and laptop units for browsing and Facebooking, as well as content creation activities such as writing documents, managing spreadsheets and entering data.
In other words, people are still tied to their desk-located devices for activities that earn a living, while for leisure-time uses the balance is shifting to tablets and smartphones. That reality is a long way from calling time of death for the PC.
The more interesting question is how much time we spend creating content versus consuming content. And its corollary: how much time we spend working versus playing. Those aren’t questions about gear but about life-purpose.
Similarly, in the church realm where I work, headlines ask, as one did today, “The shrinking church: congregations look for solutions as they face declines in membership, attendance.” Where, such article ask, have all the people gone?
In fact, they haven’t “gone” anywhere. They never arrived. Mainline churches have missed two consecutive generations of young adults – because they never came, they never found a reason to attend Sunday worship. If something else had been offered, who knows? But as it is, churches have remained remarkably stubborn about “putting all their eggs in the one basket of Sunday worship,” as one pastor put it recently.
The better headline would be: “The stubborn church: Can congregations liberate themselves from their Sunday-only stalwarts?”
The more interesting question is: can church leaders find the flexibility and courage to look beyond Sunday morning?
And for all the question is: can we ignore the headlines and dig a little deeper?