Earlier this week, Ben Arment asked for some insight on video preaching in churches. The question essentially was why not allow for well-known communicators to preach via video in your church? He asked this within the context of the small church and the pastor that preaches too long, bumbles his way through a sermon, etc. The context for Ben’s thoughts stem from the launch of the “One Prayer” outreach headed by LifeChurch.tv which is bringing several well-known preachers together to preach a series of messages on a single topic over the span of a few weeks. Many churches have signed up for this video feed and I’m sure the pastors are using it as a time for vacation without having to worry about filling the pulpit.
As I sat down to write about this topic, I noticed this morning that Michael McKinley has written about this on the opposite end of the spectrum for the “Church Matters” collaborative blog. Funny thing is, Ben booked Mark Dever to speak at his “Whiteboard Sessions” church conference a few weeks back. Dever is the head of the “9 Marks Ministry” program which promotes the “Church Matters” blog.
Personally, I’ve used video a few times in my preaching. I may use it a bit more in the future. As an aide to illustration, I think it has its place but as a replacement for the local church pastor, I think that’s stretching it a bit. I like the concept of “One Prayer” and would have no problem using a video feed once in a while as a change of pace for preaching. I think variety can be helpful and in this case, using it at the beginning of the summer season was wise because several church pastors can put a high quality message on the screen while they take a week off to be with their families. It also allows them the chance to be a part of something bigger which is also nice. Believe me, the folks at LifeChurch.tv knew this as well. They have marketing professionals working in their church that had this figured out.
That being said, replacing the local church pastor with a video teacher each week would likely bring about attendance apathy. It wouldn’t be long before the church family would want to skip church and catch the message online. I mean, what is the difference? Other than tithing (which would be available via internet), you get the same message at a time that works better for your busy lifestyle. I doubt small group connections would take place too since many would hit and miss due to the availability of the message through other means. Using this idea as the next natural outgrowth of the video venue church is flawed in this way. Video venues still use the church’s own speakers and at least, the pastors seem to be available. Using a well-known speaker in another part of the country wouldn’t afford that same convenience. I’m still not sold on the video venue concept but I will not condemn it until I have a chance to see it play out on a local level.
I’m still a believer that the local church needs it’s shepherd. I’m not perfect and never will be but I’m a servant to my people and I love them. My preaching is crafted with their needs in mind and I don’t believe you can ever replicate that with a permanent video preacher. I don’t think you can separate the “teaching” and “ministering” aspect of ministry. As author Michael Quicke comments in his book “360 Degree Leadership”, “Preaching IS Leadership.” I agree with him.
What are your thoughts?