The advent of smartphones, the proliferation of podcasts, social media and blogs in addition to access to high speed internet has contributed to an exponential increase in access to all forms of media.
American adults are spending an average of 10-and-a-half hours a day interacting with media. The same goes for the younger generations with teenagers (ages 13-18) and tweens (ages 8-12) interacting with media nine and six hours per day respectively.
Cell phone ownership and television ownership top 95% while 74% of American adults own a desktop or laptop computer.
One third of the American adult population is online “almost constantly” while 81% of Americans go online daily. Over 72% of U.S. adults use some form of social media on a daily basis. In younger generations social media use tops 80% and continues to climb each year.
These statistics aren’t meant to surprise or alarm, but to illustrate the perfunctory nature of media and the massive amount of time Americans spend listening, watching and reading content. Media has become omnipresent.
“The media are simply there, providing an unremitting stream of news and views, images and sounds, information and entertainment,” says former director of communications for the Archdiocese of London, England James McDonnell. “The media are, most of the time, nearly invisible to us.”
Not surprisingly this saturation of media has affected the average person who attends church, shaping their morals, values and thoughts.
McDonnell notes that every day professional and amateur media producers create content that, “selectively embody and frame the myths, issues, conflicts and ideals of our culture.”
These often secular myths and issues are wrapped in Netflix documentaries, movies on Amazon Prime, music and podcasts on Spotify, videos on YouTube, social media posts on Facebook and endless other platforms.
“The Internet has brought social media with its cacophony of voices and myriad specialist or niche sites,” says former The Age religion editor Barney Zwartz.
A 2018 Pew study showed that 14% of U.S. adults say they have changed their political or social view because of something they saw on social media. And, social media’s influence is only getting stronger – especially in younger generations.
According to a 2012 paper by Solomon Messing and Sean J. Westwood of Dartmouth College social media and news consumption go hand in hand. Forty-three percent of adults get their news from news websites or social media.
“With more than 800 million active users, of whom 200 million are American (Facebook, 2011), sharing over 25 billion web articles each month (Facebook, 2010), the relationship between social media and news consumption must now be considered to be a fundamental part of our media environment.”
This media environment which is constantly at American’s fingertips is what is shaping people – not the church and not the Bible.
At the same time media consumption is skyrocketing, church attendance is plummeting. Just 28% of Millennials (born 1981-96) and 34% of Generation X (born 1965-80) attend a church service once a week. Throw in a recent study from Barna that says one in three practicing Christians has stopped going to church during COVID-19 and it is clear something needs to change.
“If we don’t shape our future, it will shape us,” says Bernard J. Luskin, author of The Media Psychology Effect.
If a person does attend church the average sermon lasts just 37 minutes. That is less than .01% of time during a week devoted to something that is supposed to shape how Christians live.
And there are other complications. Even if a churchgoer hears a sermon and wants to talk about it with their spouse or family member, once that person leaves the sanctuary life comes flooding back. Lunch has to be made, naps have to be taken, and chores need to be done.
This is especially true of people raising children and/or taking care of a family member – and these stresses are only amplified during a lockdown. The time to talk with a spouse or family member about a sermon evaporates as daily life roars back.
Evidence clearly indicates that the vast majority of Christians are not devoting any significant amount of time to the Bible. According to a 2014 Lifeway research study just 19% of churchgoers read the Bible on a daily basis. In another Lifeway study 66% of Christians use Facebook each day while just 32% use the Bible daily.
Another reason people may not engage with a sermon outside of the church is they are simply overwhelmed by the vast number of resources available. Where to start and what website to trust can be intimidating.
“The large and unwieldy volume of religious content being created and pushed out can overwhelm mature believers,” says Gordon Marchy of Christian Media 3.0.
Most churches have failed to curate content for their congregations. The church may engage its congregation on Sunday and, perhaps even a Wednesday night, but there is a glaring gap during the rest of the week. If the church is silent or does not provide quality resources, its congregation will, and are, looking elsewhere – knowingly and unknowingly.
“With fewer gatekeepers, it’s become increasingly hard to discern what’s trustworthy,” says Roxanne Stone, an editor at Barna Group. “Which presents an increasing need for leaders—at church, in the media, in schools—who can help others make sense of the world in generous and discerning ways.
Pastor, author and co-host of The Holy Post podcast Skye Jethani agrees.
“The problem is no longer access to Bible teaching, it’s curating and navigating the right Bible teaching.”
That is the gap Sunday to Saturday wants to stand in.
There is a wealth of quality information pertaining to Christian life on the Internet, but finding a well-organized, succinct place to learn about a particular subject from a Christian perspective is challenging to find. And if you do find a resource has does one engage with it? What are the steps to internalizing what someone learns?
At Saturday to Sunday we have developed a framework to engage with a topic. We also curate all types of Christian media so a person can easily engage with sermon topics outside of Sunday – a sort of virtual discipleship that will ignite thoughtful, engaging conversations with family, friends and co-workers.
If you are a reader you can pick up a book or browse an article. If you are a listener you can stream a podcast or a sermon. If you are a visual learner you can watch a show or a movie.
“Our framework can help prepare a person’s mind and heart to approach a daunting subject while our curated topics, playlists and guided learning paths help organize that information, “ says co-founder Daniel Norsworthy. “Our intention is that the hundreds of hours that we have spent watching, listening and reading can help jump start a person’s journey to learning.”
The ability to deliver curated media over the Internet allows us the opportunity to engage with those inside and outside of the church 24/7 when it is convenient for them in a form of media they prefer.
Sunday to Saturday is never going to replace the church – nor do we want to. We want to support and be an extension of the church.
If you have questions or just want to say hi, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.