The Attention Span of Nemo’s Pal, Dory

kinnon —  November 26, 2007 — 5 Comments

Stopwatchzoomblursmall Paul Walker has written a very good post on our ever shortening attention span – fueled by ADDled media. (I’ve oft commented that when I began editing in 1977, commercials were normally 60 seconds long, edits were every four or five seconds and the final shot could be up to 15 seconds. Today, most commercials are 15 seconds long and we edit in frames, rather than seconds – there are 25 frames per second in PAL and 30 in NTSC. 10 frame edits are not unusual.) Paul asks,

What does all this mean for the Church? Well, when the typical service is many churches has an interrupted 30 minute worship ‘set’, and an uninterruptable monologue sermon that might last anything up to 45 minutes, then we should hardly be surprised when lots of people simply vote with their feet at such a prospect. Now, I know that most preachers rather airily respond by asserting that, whilst it might be generally the case, they are such good preachers that they can hold a congregation in the palm of their hand for an hour! I know that I like to think that about myself anyway…lol. The reality, though, is a bit different. And its going to take a bit more than a few powerpoint slides or the odd video clip interjected into the middle of sermons to really get to grips with this issue.

Actually, I have it on good advice that Microsoft is abandoning PowerPoint in fear of a class-action lawsuit from Sunday pew-sitters subjected to terrible PPT presentations.



A television editor, writer & director since 1978. A Christian since 1982. More than a little frustrated with the Church in the West since late in the last millennium.

5 responses to The Attention Span of Nemo’s Pal, Dory

  1. Paul is correct in describing what’s happening. The question is how to respond. The pendulum always swings too far and we end up making it “all about me” and what I want: short soundbites that keep the pace moving and leave me a satisfied customer with the right amount of challenge but not too much. What’s palatable to me isn’t always the issue.

    Still, the problem is real. I just worry about what we’re doing to do in response.

  2. “doing to do” – oops, I guess that should be “going to do.” My attention wandered…

  3. Once again, you’ve linked us to something that offers much food for thought. As one who attempts to preach, I continually struggle with how to communicate. We have the best news of all, but it seems that less and less people are interested in anything but “a quick fix” of some sort. Thanks for post.

  4. I’m reminded of how shocked my dear wife was when she began her Master’s in Theology. The profs practiced lecture format almost exclusively. Little or no interaction. She was shocked.

    I think people may need some interaction as part of the preaching. Our friend Dan includes this in the mix and I think it works. It becomes harder as the church grows – and why is the person responding the person preaching, but…

  5. Thanks for the mention Bill. One day I’ll figure out how to use proper trackbacks, but this will do for now 🙂

    Of course, when I wrote the post, I was also challenging myself. I’m aware that I tend to preach for too long, and too often as a monologue – even though I am, of course, totally brilliant (not!). We have experimented with discussion groups, cafe church and a few other interactions in church but it still always tends to feel a little bit ‘forced’ – and you still get some people saying ‘when can we have a proper sermon…?’

    We also try to have a lot of stories – we find stories stick more with people than preaching. We have developed a few different ways of doing this within our worship. Some time soon I intend to do a blog post on that 🙂


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