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Asheville Adventist Forum May 25: “Attention Economics – Hard Lessons for Adventism”

The Asheville Adventist Forum meets Saturday, May 25, at 3:00 PM, Eastern. Mike Scofield will be presenting “Attention Economics: Hard Lessons for Adventism.”

Mike is a semi-retired consultant and speaker in the professional area of data asset management. He has numerous articles published in disciplines of data quality and data administration. He also has humor published in the Los Angeles Times and elsewhere. He has given over 822 slide lectures to a wide variety of audiences, around the U.S., the UK, and Australia, including numerous talks to Adventist Forum chapters and thoughtful Sabbath School classes.   

He explained: Adventism differs from many mainstream Christian denominations in its doctrines of urgency about the Second Coming, and its obligation to “warn the world”. This emphasis motivated many missionaries and evangelists over the past 160 years. The “message” must be conveyed…or, at least, expressed. Big difference. But recently, the same “message” is not effective in communicating to a world audience increasingly distracted by the deluge of messages and noise in modern culture. As a result, Seventh-day Adventist membership growth is stagnating, both world-wide and in North America, and will soon go negative (it already has in some areas).

Attention economics is a discipline which describes the challenge of communicating against that higher volume of “noise” brought on by modern digital and communication technology. 100 years ago, traditional Adventist “tent efforts” were effective in rural America in attracting an audience, holding their attention over many evenings, and eventually resulting in converts. The evangelist was the “only show in town”. 

We will survey a wide variety of expression (which may or may not clearly communicate). Some expression is deliberate, some is spontaneous, some is explicit, some is symbolic or obscure. To be successful, people who create expression must understand the audience, and tailor the expression to fit the language, symbols, and paradigm of that audience. Many traditional Adventist methods and symbols are meaningful only to very elderly Adventists.   

What may work in the future is addressing micro-audiences, down to an “n” of one. 

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