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The Bloated Christian: Reimagining the Church Experience

By Alex Cummings

Burke CountyAlex Cummings Burke County Pleasant Hill Baptist Church Blue Ridge Christian News

Imagine if you will, sitting in the fellowship hall of your Church during a potluck lunch after service. Think about how loud the atmosphere is and how many different conversations are taking place at the same time. Your table might have eight people with four different conversations going on and you’re only able to catch a little bit of each due to the difficulty of hearing so many things at once.

In marketing, we use what we call the “rule of 7’s” which states that a consumer must see a message at least 7 times before it makes an impact on them or they take action. Essentially, we utilize the same marketing messaging repeatedly so the prospect hears the same thing over and over again making it much easier for them to not just remember our messaging but also so it makes an impact on them.

You may be asking how does that relate to the Church? Many of us probably have a similar schedule to what is below:

  • Sunday morning bible study
    • Bible study on a singular topic
  • Sunday morning worship
    • The pastor is doing a 12-week study on the Beatitudes
  • Sunday night bible study
    • Here you’re in a 12-week marriage study with your spouse
  • Monday night discipleship training
    • You’re going through the entire New Testament in one year
  • Wednesday night bible study
    • You’re going through a bible study on a different book of the Bible
  • Thursday nightlife group
    • This could be a 16-week Revelations study
  • Throw in a Tuesday night men’s coffee outing or dinner to discuss spiritual growth

This type of schedule creates a culture of information overload where people can’t effectively learn and retain the message because the message is constantly being diluted.

Robby Gallaty calls this “The Bloated Christian” and states that every time you learn something new that week, the original message retention is cut in half. With that said, if you take the weekly schedule above, you can only retain 1/64 of the information you consumed at the Sunday morning bible study because you attended seven different sessions over the week.

How do we move from the model of Church consumers to true disciples? What if we took a moment and reimagined the way we experience Church? What if each of those seven opportunities were built upon one another? The messaging we receive is valuable, life-altering, all-consuming. What if we treated it that way?

We should be setting ourselves up for success not failure. Only being able to retain 1/64 of what we learn each week is not a recipe for success, especially considering that we probably spent ten-plus hours in those seven different sessions.

I’m in no way, shape, or form saying that consuming too much of God’s word is bad, I encourage everyone to be in his word daily, but we need to create a culture of understanding God’s word, slowing down, taking time to digest what we have learned and apply it to life?

So, you might be saying, what does that look like? An optimal Church experience might look like something I have outlined below:

  • Sunday morning bible study
    • All groups do HEAR/SOAP journals and review them on the past week’s sermon, pick 3-5 verses to do a HEAR/SOAP journal on and share with the group, groups to broken down by age
  • Sunday morning worship
    • Typical worship service with a 20–30-minute sermon
  • Sunday night bible study
    • Extended deep dive study into the worship topics from that morning, reiterate what was discussed but take a deeper dive into the content and context
  • Tuesday night discipleship training
    • A concentrated practice to transform into true disciples with a focus on Sunday’s message
  • Wednesday night
    • NO bible study, local missions focus to help bring the word of Christ to your neighbors, create prayer cards, welcome baskets for new homeowners, community mission work and projects, discipleship in action, be the hands and feet of Jesus

There may come a time in the future when we can’t gather together as frequently as we do now. We will have to know God’s word inside and out, to hide the word in our hearts because Churches might be closed and Christians will have to gather underground due to persecution.

This makes it all the more important that we ensure the messaging is impactful and easily digestible. A message that is heard repeatedly over time and touches multiple senses is more likely to stay with you; you will hear God’s word, and understand God’s word, therefore you will live God’s word.

In my personal life, I recently spent 500 hours obtaining my Firefighter certifications. Each class would focus on just one or two core topics and be broken down this way to ensure students are not overwhelmed with information overload while learning critical skills that are literally life and death. We would repeat the same drills over, and over, and over again, not until we got them right but until we couldn’t get them wrong. The same concept needs to apply here, we need to repeatedly stay in God’s word, the same word over the week so we hear it, understand it, and live it.


Alex Cummings is an NC transplant from the northern woods of Upstate NY and has lived in NC for the last 14 years with the love of his life Krista and two beautiful daughters. The Cummings Clan resides in beautiful Morganton, NC. Alex is the growth marketing manager for a healthcare SaaS company – TailorMed.

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