The Hyperactive Church

From the LOGIA Archives, Issue III–2:

Restlessness. Easily distracted by extraneous stimuli. Difficulty in sustaining attention in tasks. Frequent shifts from one uncompleted activity to another. Often talking excessively. Can symptoms attributed to Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) be characterized in the demeanor of a congregation?

Hyperactivity is distressing. Within moments, even the casual observer can distinguish between an admiration for youthful zest and a desperation of relentless zeal. If one could channel hyperactive energy into constructive tasks, that might be rewarding. But as it is, hyperactivity leaves parents wondering where the switch is to turn the child off.

If there could be such a thing as a hyperactive church, it would surely, at first glance, appear to be teeming with vim and vigor. But then, even to the casual attender, it would become apparent after a few short years that all the hype failed to satisfy. The turnover rate in hyperactive congregations might run as high as 75 percent every three years. Little would be constructive; much would be transitory. In large metropolitan areas, such congregations might conceivably be able to sustain a large membership roll, but the names would ever be changing. If the same hyperactive methods were to be espoused by smaller congregations, one might expect the result to be like giving large doses of sugar to a hyperactive clergy. Today’s burst of growth would suffer tomorrow’s deleterious burn-out, leading them to flitter to whatever next catches their fleeting attention.

Like a hare searching for a tortoise to race, the hyperactive church would seem to be a good bet, and it would have no qualms about boasting of such. What would matter in the end, however, would not be more power, but the steady and consistent faithfulness with which Christ’s church has been sustained for centuries. Patience. Persistence. Sustained attention to what has been given. Quick to listen. Slow to speak. Peace.