Tuesday, 27 November 2007

ICE itch and the Scratch-Factor

What are people looking for online? I was talking about this with some Christian leaders the other day. One commented the church should be scratching where people are itching. Now that's nothing I hadn't heard before but the more I've thought about it the more challenging it's become.

It's too easy to think 'how can we add a little scratch-factor to what we're doing?' That misses the point. We should be asking 'where are people itching and how can we scratch that?' Thinking like this seriously challenges how we communicate.

Online video is exploding. Everyone from advertisers to amateur pop stars want to use this platform to catapult themselves into the spot light. It is a new platform, the rules are not defined, the opportunities are huge but online video is not here to bring church platforms into the spotlight. Churches need do discover how to scratch before jumping in and doing their thing.

So what's the itch? From my eighteen months of watching online video I offer this suggestion. ICE: Instruction / Conversation / Entertainment. Now in order of priority that should read ECI but as that's less memorable let's explore the ICE itch.

backstage / behind the scenes / making of / secrets of
diet / fitness / health
explanations / how to's / tutorials

belonging / community
challenges / discussion / opinion
personal interest
shared values

celebrity gossip
comedy / fun / humour
comment / controversy / news / opinion
future / gadgets / insight / tech
games / machinima
horror / shock
movie clips / trailers
risqué / sex / titillation
sensation / the weird and wonderful
tv shows

ICE should be our starting point if we are serious about scratching. But do we understand how our message is woven through these things? And do we have the confidence to do something new?

1 comment:

WraithSurfer said...

Like everything the church does, there is an up-side and a down-side to this mode of thinking. On the one hand, it makes perfectly good sense to scratch someone where they're itching, because it may give them (sometimes temporary) relief. However, because of the nature of the World and the character of the Body of Christ, the Church has to be cautious about scratching something just because the World feels an itch. Some places they're itching are places the Church has no business scratching! Sometimes, the church's role needs to be steroidal or that of an anti-histimine, and be judicial about PREVENTING the itch, or teaching the World not to step into the situations that give the itch.

I'm stretching the metaphore too far, I know, but to an extent it applies. If the World is less interested in hearing talk of Jesus, do you "sanitize" your language to instead talk about Character, or Morals, or some other less offensive aspect of the Faith? No. Some churches around here have done that, and they have people attending that didn't realize they were in a Christian body. The sermons are more like Motivational Speeches.

The Church needs to be aware of the pulse of the culture, and be both expedient and judicial about adopting cultural trends, but we need also to be steadfastly protective of those things that are important. Christ, the Bible, The teachings of the Apostles.

Culture is like ocean currents and God's Word like solid land. The Church that follows the currents till there is no land in sight is lost.

The church that hugs the coast at all cost loses all those drifting at sea.