The Death of Local Preaching?

Is the local church pastor now an endangered species? Last week, I wrote an article about using video in church. My thoughts stemmed from reading a blog post from Catalyst’s Ben Arment that discussed the idea of video preaching feeds possibly replacing the local small church pastor. Ben’s article was not derogatory in any way and simply asked for feedback on the topic. As I wrote last week, I considered his thoughts as well as others I had read over the years on this issue. Some took issue with my thoughts, thinking I was taking a shot at video venues. As I thought about this over the weekend, I felt led to write more about the topic and clarify my thoughts for those who felt I was attacking the idea.

First off, let me clarify that when I speak of video venues and “video preaching”, I’m actually speaking of two different ideas. In video venues, churches expand by sending a video feed of their pastor’s preaching to another site in an effort to grow and expand. “Video preaching”, on the other hand, is the idea of importing other preachers from all over the country to use in your weekly worship service in place of the local pastor. The preacher may or may not have any connection to your church as is the case with the “One Prayer” campaign that started last week and continues for the next few weeks.

Now that I’ve clarified that issue let me state this: I’m not against the idea that came up with for “One Prayer”. In fact, I like the idea and had our church been properly equipped, I would likely have tried to use it. I think “special event” style preaching with a novel idea like “One Prayer” has value. First off, the series kicked off at a great time. The summer season can be a down time attendance wise and this series is a good way to build buzz during the beginning of the season. It also gives the local pastor a bit of a break to recoup and recharge as many are doing. I would not, however, use this as a permanent replacement for the preaching time in a church. My initial post that I referenced earlier states my reasons for this so please go back and read it if you haven’t.

“Video Venues” offer an interesting alternative altogether. Using the local church pastor, they feed video messages to a new location. In the case of a local church where the pastor is a friend of mine, he takes turns preaching “live” at each of the two campuses and never tells the congregation which one he will be at. The other campus receives the live video feed which makes for interesting collaborations between the worship leaders at both sites. As I stated before, the jury is still out for me on this. I’m watching to see how it plays out with others but I’ve yet to take a firm stance either way on this idea. I had some readers email me about the joys and benefits of the video venue and how it’s a positive change but still others who feel that it’s not for them. I think much has to do with the people you are reaching and the purpose you have for your preaching and the ministry of your church.

Blogger Milton Stanley discussed this idea briefly a few years back on his well written “Transforming Sermons” blog. A few years before that, the “Church Marketing Sucks” blog discussed the idea as well so this is not a new idea. It just appears that in the past few years, it’s gathering more steam so it’s just now becoming a “hot button” issue.

In any event, one thing is certain. The idea is one that many are passionate about. I’ve never really given it much thought since we are focused on other things in our church plant here in Denver. I’ll look forward to further intercourse on the idea and welcome your thoughts.

The Death of Local Preaching?

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