It probably comes as no surprise to many that I’m not a big fan of video preaching. I understand the practical reasons many pastors and churches employ video for worship services, and I fully admit I have no idea what it’s like to troubleshoot the issues involved in having multiple thousands attend services over multiple venues. (There but for the grace of God go I.
I also have to point out that my particular position is not that using video preaching is universally wrong or that those who use it do so unreflectively. My friend Matt Chandler both uses video preaching at Village Church campuses and sounds words of caution against it. When I was a researcher for the Docent Group, I had the privilege of working with/for some of the most innovative multi-site pastors in America, and I have found them without exception to be thoughtful, godly, humble men who love Jesus and his church. They are not technolaters, in other words.
All that said, I still have some basic objections with the message communicated in the use of video preaching. I think I’ve touched on some of my issues before — and it’s not as if what I say is inherently valuable anyway — but one reason against it that I haven’t blogged on is this: A preacher on a TV screen can’t be murdered.
This will sound like a morbid point to some and probably like macho posturing to others, but we know that some preachers put themselves in danger when they get up to deliver the word of God. In the last year, a preacher in America was shot and killed in his pulpit. I do not think this is “good,” but I do think it is a meaningful reflection of what preaching is.
A preacher serves his community well when he sees his proclamation of the gospel as standing on the spiritual precipice of heaven and hell before them. By doing so live and not by video feed, he incarnates the prophetic call of Scripture, reminding his flock personally of the despair of death and the eternal life of Jesus Christ. And this is driven home any time a pastor sweats or cries on his pulpit, touches the hands of his congregation, pauses for laughter or an Amen, accommodates (or speaks over) the cries of a baby, receives the repentant and the broken for prayer and counsel, and, yes, makes allowances for safety. I hope to never send a video in place of myself because a video cannot be shot in the face for proclaiming Jesus.
Jesus gave us for hundreds of years the written revelation of redemption through sacrifice and servanthood, but he still saw fit to show up in person to die.
Just some thoughts. Not airtight, I admit.