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Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Projection or Presence: Weighing the Pros and Cons of Video Venue Preaching


Video venues are flying off the ecclesial griddle like hot cakes. Everyone seems to be doing it. Some with great success, if success is primarily determined by increased attendance at the multi-site video venue church. Many growing churches are getting behind this trend. Who knows if the trend is here to stay or merely a flash in the pan? Regardless, I am convinced that churches must carefully and prayerfully consider not only the short-term but long-term practical and theological implications of launching a site where the preacher is not present but projected.

Here are some of the major pros and cons of video venue preaching. The question that must be asked and answered is, do the pros outweigh the cons or vice versa?

Pros of Projection
-The most effective preacher gets projected. Let’s face it, there are relatively few preachers who hit the sermonic ball out of the park on a regular basis. And, there are many who are mediocre at best. Why shouldn’t the church put her best foot forward in order to impact more lives through preaching? So much is at stake. Seekers who visit churches do not typically return a second time to hear irrelevant sermons that seem disconnected from real life. An effective projected preacher seems better than an ineffective present preacher.   

-Video venue preaching is efficient. It doesn’t take too much time or money to launch a video venue. The main expense is renting a facility with seating capacity and projection capability. While most video venues have a campus pastor/host who is present, you don’t need a high quality and expensive communicator. That person is projected. So, if you can rent a facility with projection and recruit a campus host, you can launch a video venue site rather quickly. If efficiency is what you’re looking for, the video venue is for you.

-Current culture is enamored with the screen. Many North Americans spend countless hours each week looking at a computer screen, TV screen, or big screen at the local movie theatre. Simply put, people are used to the screen. A case could be made, however, that people are sick of looking at screens and find a live performance refreshing. But, apparently, many nominally churched and unchurched people feel as though a projected preacher is safer than a present preacher.     

Cons of Projection
-A projected preacher proclaiming a God who “became flesh and dwelt among us” feels like a contradiction. The incarnation of God in Christ is the central event of Christianity. God came onto our turf as one of us to save us because he loves us. He came to 1st century Jews as a 1st century Jew. He was physically neck deep in the culture he was trying to reach. He preached profoundly to people because he put himself in their sandals and walked where they walked. “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us” (John 1:14a). God didn’t show up as a projection but as real presence. How can a Christian preacher do anything less?

-A projected preacher cannot preach a truly contextual sermon. Every congregational context is different. The sermon developed for the mother church is not designed specifically for the multi-site video venue, especially if those contexts are radically different. The live “in the flesh” sermon I preach at a Caucasian church in an affluent suburb of Dallas will not contextually connect via video to an African American congregation in an impoverished urban area. Plus, the projected preacher on video cannot adjust “on the fly” to congregational cues during the preaching event. Can pastoral preaching really be done from a distance?

-Projecting one preacher prevents others preachers from being developed. If we are concerned about utilizing our best preacher, then video venue is the way to go. But, if we are focused on developing the next generation of preachers, the video venue should be avoided. The way to develop more and better preachers is to give them lots and lots of opportunities to preach. If the resident preaching pro is the only one preaching, the growth of potential preachers on the team will be stifled. In the short run, projecting the best communicator seems wise, but it is disastrous in the long run. When the elite projected preachers are gone who will replace them? Under-developed preachers?

More pros and cons of video venue preaching could be listed, so I welcome your response. Do you think the pros outweigh the cons or that the cons outweigh the pros? Is video venue preaching driven by pragmatism or theology? As I wrestle with these questions, I am genuinely interested in your perspective. In fact, I need it.

38 comments:

Unknown said...

I have quite a few thoughts on this. Honestly, I personally would not attend a video church. To me it seems hokey and a waste of church funds to rent a building for a satellite church. I do know of one church out here in Arizona that does that, but it's because they're "assisting" another church financially, so their sermons are shown via on screen. The drawback to this is their pastor doesn't get to say anything (as far as I know) and it basically handcuffs the church from growing organically. I don't know what the status of this small church is, but I kinda looked at it as "if you want help from our mega church, then it's our way or the highway" instead of mentoring the pastor that's currently there. I don't know how big your church is, Lenny, but I'm really not a fan of the Saddleback style or mentality of seeker sensitive culture. Yes, culture is changing, but the Word does not.

You bring up valid points on both ends of the spectrum. I was just back in York and apparently there is a church that does do this type of preaching. Honestly, I was shocked. I had never heard of a church doing this as a satellite church. The previous example was an assistance thing, but this whole concept in York was new to me. I'm just relaying my personal preference to this topic. To me it seems more flash and panache and less personal than an actual person on stage. Your point about not being able to bring up new pastors and leadership really hit home with me. We are to go an make disciples up to and including pastors. Pastors to me have to be personal. It's the reason I've always preferred a smaller church to a larger and up to mega church. It just seems less personal to me and I would just get lost in the shuffle.
At the end of the day, you're the leader. You need to do what you feel is best for your congregation. I would caution you against spreading out just for the sake of spreading out.

Jen Ellison said...

It takes intentionality and humility to develop other preachers regardless of your model. At most churches I've been a part of, the senior pastor preaches 90% of the time with an associate pastor or guest preaching once every few months. The church I am at now is multi-site with video at our satellite site.

We also have a teaching team. Since I've been at the church (about 3 months) I've seen four different pastors preach multiple times. These pastors are part of a team that give feedback and intentionally develop each other. We have two sites and (at least) 4 preachers. I've seen our multi-site develop preachers more intentionally than all of the single site churches I’ve been a part of. I certainly think that projecting one preacher can prevent others preachers from being developed but being multi-site with video doesn’t automatically prevent other preachers from being developed. The choices you make based on your values and philosophy, not just your model, determine that.

Lenny Luchetti said...

Thanks for your helpful thoughts Jen and Unknown. You both come at the debate from different angles, which makes for a lively discussion. I do agree with Jen that the philosophy/theology undergirding the model in most cases matters more than the model. But, I also agree with Unknown that too many video venues are based more on personality and pragmatism than orthodox theological convictions. Keep the comments coming. I'm just glad to see people wrestling with the issues instead of just jumping on the trendy bandwagon.

Anonymous said...

I grew up in a rural area. People who don't want video venues have not had to suffer through years of terrible preaching. I have learned that there are a lot of pastors who are gifted at "shepherding" and NOT preaching. In fact I would say most pastors in the rural settings are. I've always wondered why these small towns can't link up with a very gifted and seasoned communicator and share the preaching and let the Shepard lead the flock.

As far as the Cons...Wasn't the word becoming flesh referencing Christ?!? Maybe I'm reading that out of context. Also, I have found that the gospel transcends cultures. That's why I think the music and campus pastor can put a spin, but if you listen to a "teaching" pastor preach, it doesn't matter the context. You can grow up in the midwest and still understand a "surfing" illustration.

Oh, and didn't Jesus use "farmers " in a lot of his parables. Not everyone is a farmer, but "we" get the point.

I'm all for video venues and I hope one day that we will see it utilized in the rural areas and not just the suburbs.

Lenny Luchetti said...

Thanks for the good thoughts Anonymous. What do you think about the con of not developing potential preachers because of video venuing the big gun? Budding preachers develop through preaching, and lots of it. Do video venues stifle the preaching potential of our young pastors waiting in the wings for their shot?

mlbeck said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
mlbeck said...

Maybe the sermon is a spiritual discipline...not just for the preacher, but for the preacher and congregation together. A shared spiritual discipline.

Like face-time is a beautiful thing for the soldier abroad and his family at home, but will always be second best to actually being present with each other, so is a video sermon beneficial for those who cannot come to be with the community, it will always be second best to actual people in an actual room at the same time sharing a moment of grace.

Erica said...

I think the cons outweigh the pros. In my opinion, watching a video preacher is no different than watching a church service on tv in my livingroom instead of going to church. It is an easy way out of doing life together. A video broadcast may be okay occasionally, but I don't think a steady diet of it would be healthy.

Anonymous said...

@Lenny I preached at rest homes, youth groups, young adults, youth camps, before I ever got a chance to speak on a Sunday morning. I don't think not getting to preach on Sunday would stop someone from developing. I was on staff at a Church and I only got to preach 4 times a year anyways. The Senior pastor was intimidated because he thought people liked my preaching better, so I was limited on the opportunities anyways. I found other ways to develop other than Sunday mornings.

mlbeck said...

I think videocasts/podcasts can be a substitute for those who are impeded from gathering or as an introduction to those seeking, which is why I like live church online, but it should always be done with the clear vision that our goal is to get people in the room together.

On the flipside, this is why I struggle with a video venue. It means people can arrive there, instead of being pushed toward the goal of getting people in the same room together, preacher included.

joel leipprandt jr said...

I'm incredibly interested in this discussion not only because of its relevance, but also because of the opportunity I was given in being trusted as a preacher.

I pastor a church plant that initially started out with intentions to be a video venue campus. When the church began to transition away from the campus model and toward the plant model, I was called and entrusted to be its pastor. Prior to becoming the pastor, I had only served as a youth pastor. When I accepted the call to this "campus turned plant," I had nothing more than my own ideology of what it meant to be a preacher. Like children, I'm convinced that "it takes a community to raise a preacher."

Although I've only been doing this for two and a half years, I continue to learn what it means to truly be a preacher. Sure, our church has had to suffer some terrible preaching, but the giving and receiving of grace among our church has grown us more than we could have imagined. More so, our church has been able to become ministers to the minister; something that could never be accomplished in a video venue. I continue to learn that being a preacher isn't just about the act of preaching, it's about the relationship between the pastor and the congregation. Of course preaching is about the divinity of the Word, but it's also about the humanity of the Word - let's remember both.

With the world we live in, perhaps the Holy Spirit uses both models to reach people. For the new Christian who needs to sit and listen to a polished preacher, maybe the video venue is the way to go. And maybe the seasoned Christ follower will be more willing to put up with terrible preaching occasionally because he/she understands the bigger picture. Preaching the Word is as central to church as community. The relationship between the preacher and the congregation in the act of preaching is essential for Christian discipleship.

I'm thankful that we didn't continue as a video venue because we've all learned so much about what it means to be the church. There may be temporary seasons for video venues, but allowing the preacher to preach and grow as a preacher is transformational for the church.

Each model has it's strengths and weaknesses, but if we are to disciple folks to embody the Word in their communities, perhaps it's good for the preacher to embody the Word to the church.

Anonymous said...

Our church currently has 4 campuses and we are getting ready to open 5 more in January 2015. For us the model has been successful in that we have seen thousands come to Christ, join small groups and begin serving in the church and in the community. Each campus, while part of the same family, has their own personality and a campus pastor who can care for their congregation as a shepherd and teacher. While they may not get the opportunity to teach all the time, they must be prepared to teach the message should something go wrong with the technology. If you have a large worship center most people watch the screen for magnification so when you go to a campus, you're doing the same thing. To say that you would never do something that results in people coming to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ and experiencing life transformation and generational impact seems a little irresponsible to me. After all, isn't that our call? Isn't that why Jesus is delaying his return?! I wish people would stop debating and navel-gazing and get about doing the work at the post to which He has called them.

joel leipprandt jr said...

I think this discussion is healthy, responsible, and legitimate when considering the future of the church. A question I would ask that I think is foundational to this discussion is, "What is church?"

If church is defined as a "service" offered at a particular time, then I would affirm that projection makes more sense than presence.

If church is defined as the people of God in loving community together, the continuation of Israel, the embodiment of Christ's presence in the world..., presence makes more sense than projection.

Again, I think the beautiful thing is that the Spirit of God can, has, and does use both models in order to grow the Kingdom of God. I never cease to be blown away by the various ways God has worked throughout church history; the same is true for today. He reaches all kinds of people through the most unlikely means. So, in my mind, this converstation is less about reaching a definite conclusion on the matter and more about better understanding the pros and cons of each one.

Maria said...

I'd Really miss the Hugs so video pastors not for me !

Lenny Luchetti said...

Good thoughts gang. I love the discussion. Anonymous, of course we want to reach people. I pastored a church whose primary growth was by way of conversion. We saw hundreds of people come to faith, get baptized and get on the discipleship road. I do think we need to have a "whatever it takes" attitude toward reaching people. However, what looks like a good thing for the church in the short-run, efficiency and effectiveness, might hurt the church in the longrun. Sometimes we launch into something because it's pragmatic only to discover down the road that it hurt the church. History bears this out (think cruades- efficient and effective in wiping out other religions and converting the masses- but bad for the church).

mlbeck said...

Anonymous...

I'm with you. If the use of video venue preaching brings more people to salvation, of course, let's do it! I've gone back to something I heard Craig Groeschel of LiveChurch.TV say: "My presence is unnecessary for the Spirit of God to work...without apology, I will do whatever it takes."

Although, in your case I don't know if you can prove by any means that the use of live/recorded video of your preaching pastor has been the deciding factor in the salvation experiences in your campuses. What if an actual person in the room preached in your campuses - would less people have made decisions to follow Jesus? What if more would have if the venue pastors were preaching? It could be possible than that video venues are actually impeding the Gospel in your campuses. How can you tell one way or the other?

And, also, let us continue to debate. Debate can and does shape theology and practice, resulting in a more effective minister and church, and in turn the advance of the Gospel.

Anonymous said...

I think we must take the person into account as well. Let me define:

Person who doesn't like video venue:
1. Thinks that they will not be able to relate if not live
2. Values the personal examples of someone they know
3. Usually wants to have a personal relationship with the one speaking.

there is nothing wrong with this as all. I am not attacking this person, but I'm amazed to talk personally to people who have said "I could never go to a video venue" and then I have been with them and they go and they experience NOTHING like they imagined.. Example

1. The person speaking usually and can be videoed to where it looks like he is actually there...Not 3D, but he looks 6 feet tall and looks as if he is actually on the stage.
2. A good speaker communicates effectively without having a personal relationship. They didn't need to know of the local pharmacy to make a point.
3. The purpose of a campus pastor is for the personal relationship. I think it's important that the speaker is a man of integrity and the people "know" him. But how many of us really "know" the pastor. Most find that if they are looking for the personal touch, you get involved in life groups and the campus pastor adds the "shepherding" piece.

I"m not saying a live person is "bad" or "wrong", but I do think a lot of people who say "I would never" have never even gone to one!

This is just my personal thoughts. No stats backing them up, just what I have observed going to church for 30 years.

Anonymous said...

The con about no presence can be true, if there are no feet on the floor. Most multi-site I know have staff that are involved in that location. So I ask you Lenny, is not Presence a reality if there is a staff pastor involved but not a regular speaker?

Anonymous said...

Also, the whole "video venues don't want to get people together". I'm not following this one. EVERY video venue I know of has 200+ people. Maybe you are referrring to "online venue". You might have an argument there, but every video venue I know, value's the "coming together of the saints". The worship is live, the prayer is live, the fellowship is live, the preaching is live (just not there at that moment). So I don't know how we are going down a path of "video venues don't value fellowship".

Blessings all, I have enjoyed the convo, I keep choosing to post as Anonymous, because it has allowed me to be honest without fearing of hurting someones feelings as I know of a lot of people in the Wesleyan movement. I say all of this in love an hopes it will add to the discussion!

Lenny Luchetti said...

Thanks Anonymous. I appreciate your thoughts...really:-) We need to discuss this issue more than we currently do. It is a big deal. Regarding presence...the main thing for me is being in the worship space where the Spirit of God is hovering over the congregation with which I am present. I look into the eyes of the people to whom I preach and it shapes, to an extent, what I say and how I say it. I am with the people in the moment and something mysterious and beautiful flows out of that. I'm sure you'll agree that this is one of the cons of video venue preaching. The preacher is not in the moment in the room with the people. The preacher can't adjust on the fly to the cues given by the people.

Anonymous said...

@lenny but in some ways are we not just "playing to the crowd". The word of god "cuts like a knife to the heart of the soul". It should be the "word of God" that transforms and changes us, not the "feeling" we get in the moment.

I totally get what your saying to an extent, but in my opinion I think we are "overvaluing" that point. I think it's fair to say that we have all felt the Holy Spirit during a music time and the pastor gets up and he doesn't "kill" the moment. Just like I think the HS can move at a video venue and the campus pastor comes in and leads the alter call. It doesn't take away and in many ways ADDS.

I know where you are going from a "preachers" stand point, but I have preached and been at the audience at both, and I didn't feel this way at all. In my opinion it was cool to see God work through everyone involved! It didn't take away. I think much of what we are talking about are "personal" preferences and what we are "used" to.

As a wesleyan I'm sure you appreciate "experience" as way to validate! ;) And I do admit, that is what I'm going off of. I know someone else might be different, but I do think a lot of it has to do with the personality of the "receiver". but I have found if we are OPEN then the Holy Spirit has moved just as effectively and sometimes if not more!

Blessings

Josh and Jaclyn said...

Continuing the projection and presence conversation with a response at https://joshcooper.squarespace.com/church/2014/8/6/presence-projection-video-venue-response

Anonymous said...

Isn't it interesting that it is mostly "Churched" people are the only ones debating this? If lost people will come and respond, who cares! If the person who likes a "live" preacher won't be there, but at the end of the day...they are going to go down the street anyways. The stats tell us that flocks and flocks of "unchurched" people are coming to the venues.

Most unchurched people are looking for a dynamic speaker, cause that's what they are used to at schools, debates, and on TV (for the most part) at least from an entertainment standpoint. I understand that it isn't about "entertaining" but the speaking must be quality, and to be honest, most pastors can't hold your attention past the introduction.

I also find myself asking the question. "What would Paul do with all this technology to advance the gospel?"

Anonymous said...

People can watch a video sermon at home in their pajamas. If a church does not care enough to have a pastor who shows up on Sunday mornings in the flesh, why should they.
Our church showed a video sermon for two Sundays. It was nice the first Sunday, but I skipped the second Sunday. Why? I want a live pastor.
Growing a church by throwing up a satellite location is lazy and irresponsible. If a church is going to plant a new location, plant a new location. Don't make it a video site. It comes across as a money grab.

Lenny Luchetti said...

I agree about the money grab. It goes back to what I said about efficiency. Efficiency says let's do what is least costly...let's get the biggest bang for our buck. Someone brought up the Apostle Paul's use of technology...read 1 Cor 2:1-5. Paul refused to utilize the trendy rhetorical devices of the day, which could have won the masses to Christ, because he felt that the medium is the message. He wanted his style and content to be in alignment with the cross. For Paul, preaching the gospel was not efficient but costly- as expensive as life itself.

Mark Schnell said...

At this point I probably don’t have anything to add to this conversations, that’s what I get for being late. But then again, that won’t stop me from trying!

First of all, let me say, Lenny that I love your writing and your heart for the ministry of the Word. Your thoughts on preaching are not only theoretically sound but have been tested through the fires of pastoral ministry. Those two together are a winner in my book!

I don’t disagree with your pros or cons to video venue preaching but do have a few thoughts related to the degree of one of the cons you listed.

Let me say though, I have to be honest that I have usually treated video venue preaching with an eye roll. You know, “Oh brother, here’s another preacher who loves the limelight and thinks no one else can do what he or she does!” My only experience with video venue stuff up till about a year ago was at conferences that were video linked, not the same thing as the local church. But when we moved to Marion, IN a year ago I started going to the service at College Wesleyan Church where we would hear and see Steve DeNeff preaching on the video screen. I was more than skeptical at first, but soon began to enjoy it. We sat around tables, got to interact with others in the service, and it wasn’t like sitting in a sardine can that the other service would have been – it was a homey type atmosphere and we enjoyed it. But (and this is a biggie here), it helped me knowing that Steve DeNeff was preaching that actual sermon about 75 yards from where I was sitting. The sermon might be delayed a few minutes but he was actually over there and I could talk to him after the service. CWC was doing the video venues for space issues, not personality ones. Steve shares his pulpit more often than I would have thought he did. Preaching is his strength obviously, but he is also about helping others to develop. And his video venue preaching was still contextual, there was still the possibility for pastoral care from him. But the church decided to stop doing the video venues, and I’m still not sure why they did. My point is, I thought the video venue thing worked there, and very well. It’s a different situation than what Lenny is talking about here probably, but in that setting I was all for it.

For the degree of a con you listed:
You said, “God didn’t show up as a projection but as real presence. How can a Christian preacher do anything less?”
People have already mentioned this, especially mlbeck, but we have to take into account the work of the Holy Spirit in preaching. God does something mysterious and wonderful when the Word is proclaimed and I think that can happen in all kinds of ways. Here are a few instances where an incarnated pastor or preacher wasn’t present but the Spirit worked.
1. Paul sends a letter to a group of Christians far away from where he is. Someone in a group setting reads that letter to the group and the Spirit moves. Or the letter is passed around in a circuit and the Spirit moves. Paul isn’t physically present at all but the Spirit, the incarnate God, does the work that only God can do.
2. We read those letters a few millennia from when they were written and we are moved by the Spirit. Our context is completely different in a million ways, that letter wasn’t written directly even to our group, let alone personally. We’re only looking over the shoulder of the original person who read the letter. But the Spirit moves and we are transformed by the Word.
3. I think of the Jesus film. That thing was made, what, thirty years ago or something, but people are STILL being added the kingdom from its ministry. It’s even just an artistic take on the Jesus narrative, but the Spirit is doing that, not a person.

I agree with what has been said by some others here, actual physical preaching is the ideal. I prefer that. Also, I agree that the important thing is that Word is being proclaimed, however that needs to happen. The Spirit takes situations that are less than ideal and uses them.

Mark Schnell said...

BTW, I sit in the actual sermon by Steve DeNeff now, we sit up close. So I think he’s making actual eye contact me sometimes, not just looking at my section. I do like that, and it adds to the experience for me. Not sure the person in the back row feels any closer to him than if they were watching him on the video screen, though.

Lenny Luchetti said...

Thanks Mark for adding your wisdom to the conversation. I know you care deeply about preaching. You make some valid points. I especially appreciate you noting that the Holy Spirit can use something initially intended for one context (Paul's letter to 1st century Corinth)to inspire a very different context (21st century Americans). Good point.

Mark Schnell said...

Lenny, I offer those comments in the same attitude as you did when you responded to that paper I presented at the GSTS - I agree with just about everything you written - so for the sake of discussion here's a few thoughts. ;-)

Lenny Luchetti said...

Ha Mark...I knew that would come back to bite me:-)

Anonymous said...

@lenny I'm not following your 1 Corinthians 2 comment?!? He seems to be talking about "debate" and "fancy words". this would have been big to a Roman who valued "greek philosophy". I'm not sure how you are making the connection to using a video sermon to illustrate the same concept? One is a divice used to give the gospel and one is rhetoric. Can you explain more of how you think Paul would have not used every "device" known to reach the masses for the gospel?

Lenny Luchetti said...

The point I was making is that just because something "worked" doesn't necessarily mean that it should be employed. Other preachers were using rhetorical devices of the day that Paul didn't believe resonated with and actually contradicted the cross. I'm not saying everything that works is to be avoided. What i am suggesting is that pragmatism without careful theological reflection leads people and chruches of the deep end. Make sense?

Anonymous said...

@lenny, It makes a little more sense. I agree that we need to be careful and not always chase the new shiny car. But I think we need to be careful when we are using what I will call the "slippery slope" analogy and we end up "off the cliff" when the potential probably won't even get that far. I don't think "video venues" is going to lead people "off the deep end". I think there could be ramifications, surely and I think that is what your getting at. We are seeing some of those ramifications with the "seeker sensitive" movement from the 80's and 90's. Even Hybels himself said that he wished he would have discipled more during that time. So YES, I agree we need to make sure our "method" is sound. That's why I have engaged in this forum.

I guess something I would like to know is:
1. How will this affect discipleship negatively?
2. Will it hinder evangelism?
3. Will it hinder the Church from engaging it's culture?
4. Does it hinder the "meeting of the saints".

These are the questions that I believe will hinder God's Church down the road. What would you add or subtract from this list?

Dave Romero said...

Good morning bro. We launched a new campus 4 months ago called TRU. It is not only a different name than the main campus, but we are not a video driven campus. I had been the Worship Pastor for the last several years, and through those years was feeling the call to preach and pastor. So what my Senior Pastor begin to do was groom me to become the Pastor of that campus. He begin to have me preach more, do a lot more pastoral care, and spend ample time with him in discipleship, and more leadership training. In my research I have found that even though some of your bigger metro areas are having success with video driven church, your normal small to mid size towns prefer a live preacher/pastor that is tangible. What we do at least 24 weeks out of the year is the Senior Pastor and I will preach the same messages/series, but I will take the content and make it work for the DNA of the campus I pastor, and He does the same for the main campus. This has been working really good, because both campuses are way different expressions. The main campus us more of a blended campus, 70 year old church, and the new campus, TRU, is filling up with primarily young families. So with all that said I think that there is a place for video church, I have a great friend who is a campus pastor for Life Church, and of course they do it well. But just because it is the trend it does not mean it will work for everyone, or in every place. Its like going to a Leadership conference and getting all kinds of great ideas for church growth that the successful churches are doing and thinking it will automatically work in your culture, most of the time it does not. The other things is that those listening to the projected preacher can never build a authentic relationship with him or her outside the teaching he or she does on Sunday mornings. To me it is vital to build that trust with the one who is actually preaching because what they say has so much influence on the person listening. Also Both of our campuses stay connected through weekly staff meetings, and 4 major events that both campuses do together each year. I do believe it is a very humbling thing for the Senior Pastor to raise up other preachers, and I am blessed to have a Pastor that is more interested in doing that than him being the only one. SO in turn that is what I will be doing as well as we look at launching more campuses in the future. Thanks for your blog bro it is really insightful. Blessings my friend.

Dr. Love said...

I've always believed that the preacher is the best illustration... not their stories or ideas.

Anonymous said...

I was just with a campus pastor and projection preacher last week. As part of a a class on church multiplication, I wanted to explore this option and help students see the innerworkings of this type of work. I've always believed that the preacher is the best illustration, not their funny stories, antidotes or ideas. However, as I interviewed these two leaders, I was in awe of God and how he has worked in this situation.

I don't think we can forget the o-so-key campus pastor. The campus pastor is in fact MORE present than most preachers, who end up spending 20 hours a week preparing for a 30 minute message... The projection preacher noted that this particular community didn't need another branded preacher, they needed a MRI (Missional, Relational, Incarnational) leader in their community. This approach was a beautiful picture of the Ephs. 5 fold ministry outlook. The teacher was able to teach, and the shepherd was able to shepherd.

I am convinced, and research will inform you, that video venues will only be successful because of the onsite pastoral presence. They do not make it on the projected teaching alone. Contrary to popular opinion, more often than not, people are drawn to the venue option, not because of the video teaching, but because there is a heightened sense of contextualized mission and movement. Even in the venue I was in last week, the entire building was dedicated to missional outlets. It was clear, their goal was NOT to find another place to contain people, but to release them for mission and ministry in that particular community.

I don't think we can dismiss the video venue so quickly or write it off as a the most recent trend (which God has used every trend, btw). We just need to understand it for what it is and allow it to be ONE of the many options to reach people for Jesus and engage community. VV are not for everyone or every church, but I think there are certain situations and dynamics where it is a legitimate option.

I don't think I would do a VV or be a part of one, but let's praise God for this innovative approach!

Lenny Luchetti said...

Thanks gang for more helpful insights and inquiries. Anonymous, you raise important questions about engaging our culture in mission. I still have a hunch that placing a preacher on the ground within a congregation is the best option for developing the congregation, community and the preacher.

Dave, thanks for jumping in. I like the model you and your senior pastor are using. I like the team approach and conextualized preaching that can flow out of it.

Ed, glad you added your wisdom to the dicussion. Perhaps the VV is a viable option, but one that we must carefully and prayerfully consider before launching simply becaus it is effective and efficient. Developing preachers, as far as I can tell, is not real efficient in the short run but fruitful in the long run.

Dr. Jeff Scott said...

reaching the unchurched requires changing their mental picture of church...see the new book on this topic: "AMERICAN GOTHIC CHURCH: Changing the Way People See the Church." Available at Amazon and other online book retailers in softcover and ebook formats.