OK, there's a scientific element to this screen formatting stuff. I'm a little fuzzy about screen size ratios and all the other technical adjustments needed to fit a wide-screen motion picture to a basically square television set. I do know this, though. Something drastic has to occur to make the rectangle of the wide-screen fit the lines of a standard old-fashioned TV. So, it's not rocket science. Still, it's a little complicated for someone who had trouble with math after the fifth grade. If you're interested in the official language and science of this conversion process, click here for a better explanation.
Let me tell you, re-formatting things to make them fit the radar screen of contemporary morality is a huge temptation to those of us who are answering the call to reach younger people. The shocking spiritual demographics regarding gen x and y have compelled some of us preacher types and a few congregations to reach into the younger cohorts with the message entrusted to our stewardship. Let me tell you first hand: this is not as simple a transition as it may first appear. In the process, many well-intended people have metaphorically modified the message to fit the presumed smaller screen desired by the younger people.
This, of course, is a fatal error, the blue screen of death for churches seeking to breach the chasm. The reason is obvious. Younger believers don't have a small screen mind-set. Of a truth, they don't want the message of truth trimmed or adjusted to accommodate some lesser God or minimized belief system. Looking for the silver bullet, many congregations and leaders will hack off the spiritual themes out on the edges of faith to make the message fit what they perceive to be the reduced capacity of their audience. And, this is not the answer.
A new delivery system that places the Good News in it's fullness on the wide-screen tableau of a revitalized and reformatted church is the answer. We don't need to abbreviate or truncate the message. Rather, we need a wide-screen approach that projects the old, old story, in all it's glory and fullness to an unreached people group who are searching for truth and depth. Shoot, they don't want the abridged version, with all the questionable scenes edited out. The clippings around the editor's table should be the churchy language and man-imposed traditions that impede the transmission of the truth, not the truth itself.
This is a truly a hard adjustment for many seasoned communicators and congregations, to develop new systems and vocabularies and images to fit the pana-vision of youthful spiritual expectations. On the other hand, many young preachers and ministries are doing just that, and attracting hordes of younger believers in the process. We should applaud them, rejoice with them, perhaps mimic them in some ways. At the same time, many existing congregations need a buy in to this wide-screen world, unlearn some old habits and systems in the process, while learning the joys of connecting in new, exciting ways. Shoot, the younger heads around our place remind me almost every day to adjust the screen settings on my lap-top so I can project the message in a wide-screen format. That's the deal. Adjust the screen, and not the message.
Then we won't need to begin every service with the disclaimer: this message has been modified from its original version. It has been formatted to fit your screen.
Anyway, that adjusted message is really no message at all.