Sunday, June 27, 2010

Video Preachers

Krish Kandiah has started an interesting discussion about preachers at megachurches who video their sermons for use in other congregations.

It's long been something I've been uncomfortable with, but not been able to put my finger on precisely why not. Krish suggests 4 problems with the approach:

  1. Cult of personality
  2. Lack of feedback / communication
  3. Lack of relationship
  4. Consumer Church

I think I'd agree that all of those are definite dangers, but I'd push the "personality cult" point further than Krish does. Having video sermons seems to say that not only is the Main Preacher unusually gifted (which may well be true), but it makes it harder to raise up good secondary leaders, or even good primary leaders for other churches / to succeed the main leader.

Consider the following scenario:

A church has 4 main congregations on a Sunday, meeting in different venues. For the sake of unity, the church leader decides that they will all have the same passage on the same day. Main Preacher does 2 of them, and upcoming leaders do the other two. Main Preacher's job is then not only preparing the sermon, but also mentoring the two upcoming leaders in preaching. They do a significant fraction of their preparation together or in discussion with each other, but end up with finished products which are their own. This doesn't add significantly to the workload of Main Preacher, and means that the upcoming leaders get the benefit of being mentored by Main Preacher, improve quicker. After a few years, if they were already fairly gifted and worked hard, they would likely be able to preach at a similar standard to Main Preacher, and probably taking a style of their own, albeit one heavily influenced by Main Preacher, and the result is greater multiplication of the ministry.

If these upcoming leaders are (for example) people who already know how to preach and are fairly gifted in it, that looks like a much better way of doing it in the long term.

I should add that I've got a lot of respect for John Piper, Mark Driscoll et al, and I'm sure they've got good reasons for doing it. I just don't see what those reasons are, and would be interested to know...

On the other hand, I'm aware that the church I'm a minister at does use video sermons from time to time as a way to give staff a month or so off preaching. That seems like a good idea, as long as it isn't regular...

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