I first encountered the term "halo effect" in reference to Apple computers, where the writer said that computer technology as a whole was benefiting from the “halo effect” derived from the ipod and iphone.

In other words, the “halo effect” is a perception of a product that makes you think positively about it, and it takes some significant effort to lose that positive attitude.

We have seen the same phenomenon in people. Look at Australian politics over the last decade. For the first few years of his prime ministership it was said that John Howard was "Teflon coated". No mud seemed to stick to him. Everyone gave him the benefit of the doubt. Toward the end of his time, the halo had disappeared and it seemed he could do nothing good. Now the same halo surrounds our current prime minister, Kevin Rudd. The halo effect seems to take precedence over both competency and action.

My question is "how is the halo effect created and how is it lost, especially with regard to people's attitude to church?"

The halo and churches

There is no doubt that churches, which a century ago enjoyed the “halo effect”, have now lost it.

Clergymen were once treated with total respect. Now with disdain and doubt. Part of this has been the string of sexual and power abuse cases that have been publicised.

However, I suspect there is another reason for the loss of halo.

It is that there has been a narrowing down in the focus of churches from being a community service social provider to evangelism of the lost. I support this change, and it was necessary as our society moved from nominal Christianity to being de-churched.

However, our society probably perceived that churches no longer care for people, but are only concerned to brain wash. You only need to see the strong halo around the Salvation Army activities to see this in action.

I suspect that the church will never regain the societal halo, and this is to be expected as we challenge worldviews.

However, I do think we are in danger of too easily losing the assumption of grace amongst believers by the spirit of our age that challenges and puts down what the churches that we are part of are doing. I am not advocating turning a blind eye to sinful action, or viewing church through rose coloured glasses, but it is so easy to undermine God's church by showing what is wrong while not extolling the great work God is doing in and through His people.

If God's people will not be positive toward the church that God has built by the blood of his Son we have a real problem.

Related Posts