I ran sound at First Baptist Atlanta for a great many years, but have been out of it for about the past five or so. I visited the other day with a former employer, Conrad Feirn (Connie) at the Music Depot, Inc. They are now in the business of installing sound and light systems in churches across the Southeastern US. What I learned from him was very interesting.Twenty years ago church sound systems were little six or eight channel mixers with a couple of colums speakers, so people could hear the preacher or a soloist. Bogen, Sure and maybe Altec Lansing were some brand names back then. Not so now. Connie said that most of the installataions they are doing include projection TV screens, theatrical lighting, and concert-quality sound systems with components such as Bose speakers. What's the average size of a church so equipped? I asked. A thousand or two? Nope. The average size of such a church is six hundred seats. Yow! I commented that it sounds like a very competitive environment out there for the churches if they're spending that kind of money to get people in. Yes indeed, said Connie. If they go into a new community and put in a system in a church, within six months they'll be getting calls from the other churches in the area for new systems. Reminds me of the 1970s in the TV area. When one station got a new weather radar thingy, the other stations in the market had to get similar setups just to keep their viewers. People want to be entertained.Connie quoted a study he saw that said the average attention span of Americans over 25 was about 22 minutes. The 18-25 year old crowd had an average attention span of around 16 minutes. This may be said to be the commercial break time on TV. Connie knows of one pastor who has a timer in the pulpit. Every 13 minutes or so he steps away from the pulpit and tells a joke or some such to break the sermon up and keep people's attention focused.All in all, this sounds like a sad indictment of American culture in general and the Christian culture in specific.

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