Why I Object to Screen Preaching

Is it okay for a preacher to speak to a Christian gathering via a screen? Or is it important that he be physically present with them? In an earlier article I suggested in passing that “it matters for the preacher to be physically present to preach in the assembly of the church.” That remark prompted both a comment that numerous churches (including several led by TGC Council Members) now function as multi-site gatherings in which the pastor preaches from a screen, and a request that I write another piece exploring this question more deeply. So here goes. Let me say at the start that I want to stand by what I said. But I want to nuance it.

Two Invalid Reasons

Before I get to the heart of my case, we need to clear away some debris from our thinking. There are at least two invalid reasons why we may object to preachers on screens. The first is downright worldly: envy. It’s never crossed anyone’s mind to suggest I should preach to several congregations via screens because, well, my preaching is not of that quality. Would that it were! As a pastor infected with the disease of ministerial envy and pride, I can feel irritated when others’ preaching is so good that people want to see them even through a screen. I’m ashamed of my attitude, and I ought to be ashamed. I write from the UK, where the Christian scene is so small that we have (to my knowledge) no multi-campus churches and no preachers sufficiently well-known for this setup to be requested. So, in my perverse British (nay, English) way, I instinctively don’t like the idea. That dislike is worldly and needs to be cleared out of the way.

The second invalid reason is cultural conservatism: I don’t like it because I’m not used to it. In the same way, I don’t really like using an electronic diary; I use one, but it feels wrong. But this is simply because I’m getting old (in my 50s, no less, and how geriatric in our culture) and am in danger of becoming a cultural dinosaur. No doubt a previous generation didn’t feel the telephone was a natural instrument to use. The fact that it doesn’t feel right isn’t an argument against it; indeed, it may simply be a challenge to me to adapt and get used to it.

It cannot be absolutely wrong to preach by a means more remote than immediate bodily presence. The apostles wrote letters and clearly regarded them as a valid and authoritative way to communicate. Paul even instructed the church in Colossae to read his letter out in the church of the Laodiceans as well (Col. 4:16).

And when we think about it, there isn’t a simple choice between immediate bodily presence and remote tele-preaching. The moment we use a microphone we distance the preacher by putting electronic voice amplification between us and him. His bodily presence is less immediate. And when we fix a camera on the preacher at the front and project his face on screens around a large building, we reduce the immediacy of his bodily presence, too. I remember the odd feeling when first addressing a larger gathering of this kind, as I turned to make eye contact with those on the wings only to discover their eyes were fixed on screens. I quickly realized I’d do better to look straight ahead all the time, at the camera. Needless to say, it was unsettling and reduced my sense of being directly present with them. The same would apply to a video relay into an overflow room.

So there are bad reasons for not liking video preaching, and thus it cannot be absolutely wrong. Having said that, however, the apostles repeatedly state that, despite writing letters, they desire to meet people face to face (e.g., 2 John 12; 3 John 13,14; Rom. 1:10-15; 1 Cor. 16:7; 2 Cor. 1:16). I think there are two kinds of reasons why remoteness ought to be regarded as the exception rather than the norm.

Two Kinds of Valid Reasons

The first kind concerns the congregation, the assembly. It’s generally better for a church to have a preacher physically present with them. As my friend Bob Fyall commented on my previous article, “The Word uniquely becomes flesh in the Lord Jesus Christ, but must also be embodied in the particularity, even idiosyncrasies, of the preacher. This requires a ‘real presence’ and the experience of fallible human words faithfully expounding the written Word to lead us to the Living Word.” Moreover, Carl Trueman has observed that multi-site ministries tend to use live musicians, and he asks what view of preaching is implied when the music must be live but the preaching can be remote. It’s a perceptive question.

What’s more, the preacher cannot teach and preach authentically without loving people. And love involves the desire to share not only the gospel but also his life (1 Thess. 1:8). Even a visiting preacher or conference speaker ought to want to do this, insofar as circumstances permit. A regular pastor won’t be satisfied with anything less. It’s hard to see how regular preaching through a screen lends itself to sharing life in love. (In the same way, a bodily present preacher who comes from the study to the pulpit only to retreat immediately back to the study withholds love from the people to whom he preaches.) I may benefit from a screen preacher’s words, but I cannot know he loves and cares for me except in a shallow and general way.

The second kind of reason concerns the authenticity of the preacher. Paul wanted the church in Ephesus to see Timothy’s progress in godliness (1 Tim. 3:15-16). Paul himself wanted churches to imitate his life insofar as he was Christlike (e.g. 1 Cor. 4:16; 2 Thess. 3:9), and he could only say this because he had been physically with them and hoped to do so again. It’s possible for a bodily present preacher to pull the wool over a church’s eyes, to be a fraud, to prove a charlatan in the end; but it’s far harder to do this when a church is seeing his life in bodily fellowship with him as a brother. For the sake of a pastor’s integrity and accountability, then, bodily presence and sharing life are important safeguards.

Additionally, John said face-to-face fellowship makes joy complete (2 John 12), and Paul hoped he and the church in Rome would be “mutually encouraged” when they met (Rom. 1:12). We too ought to regard all forms of bodily distance as less than the ideal and the norm. Whether sound amplification, sight lines restricted by pillars, screens for visibility in a large building, the “hit and run” nature of visiting preachers and conference speaking, or preaching through a video link, these varying degrees of bodily remoteness may enabling preach when it would otherwise be inaudible, invisible, or impossible. But the norm ought to be a man accountable to a congregation, sharing his life with the sheep he knows and loves and who know and love him—all in the context of joyful mutual accountability and encouragement. Preaching is best in that context of bodily presence and self-giving.

So can preachers preach from screens? Yes, they can. It’s possible and it’s not wrong. But we will be wise to avoid it.

  • Annie

    Amen! I’ve also thought that it’s easier for folks to distance themselves from instruction when it’s impossible for the preacher to make eye contact with them.

  • http://thebluefish.org Dave Bish (@davebish)

    Hi Christopher,
    I think I basically agree with you. And in most of the UK it’s no where near being an issue yet – there are about 200 of us in our church and I’m aware that’s well above the average church size… so this is a rare problem to even begin to deal with.
    However, I think we do have a number of multi-campus/site churches in the UK that I’m aware of, and I can think of at least one that has used a video broadcast to an overflow venue room…
    Several churches that rapidly transport their preachers around between meetings so they can preach up to four times in a morning.
    And, in the few 1000+ people congregations in the UK (much as at a conferences) where there are additional screens at the front or around the room, when does the experience change… The preacher and I might well never make eye contact.

  • Jo

    I totally agree with you. I think in the case of conferences it is slightly different, as the purpose is not quite the same – there is an acceptance that, being a larger event, the expectations are different. But in Churches, I think it is important that for a majority of services, a preacher is present with the congregation.

    I agree with the reasons you’ve given, but I also think that when a preacher is present there is room to adapt the preach to the congregation. For example, there are times at my Church where there is an incredible word given during the worship, or a significant moment of awe towards God. When these unplanned, spontaneous, and significant moments happen, sometimes my Pastor will reference them within his preach. There is a synthesis between what he is saying and what we have already seen in the service. This could not be achieved as much with a video-preach or someone who has not been present during that moment of worship, yet I feel it can have real significance.

    My boyfriend is serving in a multi-site Church (in the UK) at the moment, and whilst they try and transport their preacher around during the day to as many of the seven services as they can, sometimes this is not possible and a recorded preach from the week before is given. I struggle with this concept because it feels like the Preacher is not speaking directly to that congregation, as you said and, as Annie pointed out, feels like personal. As I’ve mentioned, in conferences this is slightly different, but in a Church, which is essentially a family, it’s not ideal.

    Thank you for this blog post! :)

  • Michael Herrington

    “What’s more, the preacher cannot teach and preach authentically without loving people.”
    Don’t want to open a can of worms, but does this speak at all to large churches as well? I’ve always thought, as a pastor, that I would max out on being able to love people well somewhere in the 100s. I don’t want to force my number on others, and I know of numerous large, healthy churches, but is it possible that we are missing something when the pastor has no ability to know the flock well?

    • Joe Carter

      *** is it possible that we are missing something when the pastor has no ability to know the flock well?***

      That’s a great question, Michael. I’d be interested to see what some of the pastors who read TGC have to say. Maybe we should commission an article on that subject.

      (BTW, great to see you commenting here.)

      • Michael Herrington

        Thanks, Joe. One other thought: I have a positive experience with a large church, one that grew from 300 to about 2000 while I was attending over about 10 years. The atmosphere from when I first walked through the doors was one of discipleship. The pastor and elders (and several other key men and women) were actively investing in people’s lives. The expectation was one of moving to maturity. So while he may not have known well all of his 2000 member flock; someone in that group did. So I just want to make sure that I don’t communicate an anti-large church mentality. But I assume there are dangers and different challenges for the pastor of a large flock that we ought to be mindful of. But my preference would be a small, more intimate gathering where everyone knows everyone else.

        • JP

          “The expectation was one of moving to maturity. So while he may not have known well all of his 2000 member flock; someone in that group did. ”

          Thanks @Michael Herrington!
          I think you hit a key point that helps de-bunk the anti-big/small argument. I too have benefitted from a TEAM of elders and leaders who knew the flock even though it was large. Faithfulness to Paul’s vision of “presenting everyone complete in Christ” can be done in a larger church and can be lost even in a small church.

        • http://www.covenantcaswell.org John Carpenter

          That’s right. I think you’ve hit on the most important principle: discipleship and that every member should be well-known by other members.

          It seems then that the church that stays small just so the pastor can know every person can be just a as “pastor-cenetered” as the church that grows merely on the backs of the preaching skills of the pastor by the use of technology and multi-site.

    • Chris Priestley

      This is a great question and one I feel practically (I can only eat lunch with and counsel so many people). But I believe the underlying assumption may be that a church only has one pastor who knows/loves/feeds/cares for people.

      I do not believe this is the NT norm. Instead instead of limiting the size of the church to one pastor, I encourage you to think through increasing the number of pastors to the size of the church as we see in Ephesus in Acts 20:17. In fact, the NT pattern is multiple pastors/elders to care for larger #s of people well (Acts 11:30, Acts 14:23, Acts 15:2, 4, 6, 22, 23; 20:17, 28; Phil 1:1, 1 Tim 5:17, Titus 1:5, James 5:14, 1 Peter 5:1-2).

      When the local church grows by 3,000 in one day (Acts 2:41), instead of turning them away, we can train up other men to who can pastor the flock well (2 Tim 2:2).

      I believe this is pertinent to screen preaching as well. I find it hard to believe that Peter personally knew the thousands that were gathered in Acts 2, or that Jesus personally knew the thousands that gathered to hear him preach in John 6 or that Moses knew the thousands that God gave him leadership over. But in all of these cases, other men were trained and released to lead the large number if people in smaller numbers of people.

      Though I do not pastor a church of thousands, I certainly don’t want to apologize if God once again builds his church by hundreds and thousands, but instead praise God for the disciples and train guys to lead them well.

      • Charles Young

        I completely agree. Instead of deciding whether our congregation fits our church structure, we should decided if our church structure fits the gospel.

      • Casey

        Well said, Chris.

        Just let me know as soon as your church blows up and I can beam you into my living room. :)

      • Mike

        It strikes me that part of the preacher’s claim to the significance of his sermon is lost when he doesn’t know or has not even met some (or many) of the people he’s preaching to. The Great Shepherd said “my sheep know my voice and they follow me,” which is to say the sheep experimentally know the shepherd. If the shepherd doesn’t have to actually know his sheep then let’s all just watch John Piper.

  • Daniel

    I think much of the content here is good and really helpful in forcing us to think through why we do things and how they could always be better. I think however much of the biblical witness that you point to is mainly descriptive and not proscriptive of what existed in the New Testament Church. I would agree that Trueman’s question is perceptive and should produce more in depth analysis of our motivations but it would be a leap to indicate that screen preaching and live music communicates a lower view of preaching. This may be the case but this is merely one man’s opinion perceptive or not. I think to say we would be wise to avoid it is a leap forward in description toward prescription. the issue dogging churches is not one (fully) of the physical presence of the preacher but the continual application of the gospel and the word of God.

  • http://textsincontext.wordpress.com Michael Snow

    What this demonstrates is the cult of the celebrity.

    What should also bother us are those churches that think they are not up to par if they don’t have a tv camera and a big screen behind the pastor. I see churches in Romania following this fad, this in churches that are small enough that no one has any problem seeing the pastor. And then, there is the distraction during worship, singing and teaching of the camera mam or men moving around to vary the angle and make it all ‘professional.’ May God deliver us.

  • Jonathan Tomes

    Thank you! We need more of this sort of reflection. Why do I object to “Screen Preaching? The medium is the message. What message are we sending when we decontextualize the minister of the Word from the congregation? The separation of the preacher from the congregation also seems to be in line with the medieval Church’s withholding of the Cup from the congregation. The Word and the Supper need to be present with God’s people. We have not fully considered how this medium affects the message of the gospel.

  • http://chanroberts2.wordpress.com/ Chancellor C. Roberts, II

    I admit that I a bit torn about this one. One one hand, I can understand the utility of using technology to communicate the word of God and think we should take advantage of the opportunities technology might present. On the other hand, some of the arguments made against technology can also be made against large churches in general, especially against the so-called “meagchurch.” I have long thought that once a church gets above, say, 100 members, it should be split into smaller churches each with their own pastors and elders. The relational and accountability aspects of the local church, and the ability to do the “one another” stuff, are often lost when churches get to be so large.

    At the same time, I wonder how much the author is holding onto form over substance in his resistance toward technology.

  • http://faithcoloredglasses.com LauraLee Shaw

    I agree with the way you’ve expressed your points here. The greek word for One Another is “Allelon.” It means mutual, reciprocal. Hard to have that with a screen (whether inside the walls of a “church” or inside the walls of our home). If one is physically able, one of God’s greatest means for spiritual growth is through authentic, Christ-centered, mutual one-another living. I try to remember this as a blogger & online communicator to women, that my most important fellowship, community & ministry is LIVE and in person with the warm bodies right in front of me. Great wisdom balanced with grace & no condemnation here.

  • Alan

    I believe the observation of music being led live when the preacher is remote and the reasons against of loving the people and the aim of imitation expose the root of the issue.

    Remote lecturing, presenting or informing would be fine.
    But none of those things come close to what preaching is.
    If it can be reduced to a recording or remote presentation without losing something vital to its essence, then it wasn’t preaching to begin with. Preaching is relational.

    Of course, it may be better to do this than nothing at all in some cases, just as someone who cannot attend church is far better being given a recording than nothing at all. It would be heartless to say that what’s recorded doesn’t do the preaching justice so it can’t be used.
    But for churches to intentionally build their main services around this seems to betray that the church may not even know what preaching is, or what the church is.

    Of course we can provide 45 minute presentations on the Bible anywhere you like, and form gatherings of people around these. But is that church? Or is that a group that acts like a church, but only because it wants to be a church, not because it is one?

  • http://1nc-again.blogspot.co.uk/ Adam Young

    I find that I both agree and yet profoundly disagree with this article. As a minister in the UK we are certainly not at the stage of large multi-site churches broadcasting sermons across a city – both because of numbers of worshipers and to be honest we couldn’t afford the technology to do it properly. I also think such a system can be abused or used for the wrong reasons.

    Ultimately though I think multi-site churches using screens are being used to God’s glory by His will. To say that a minister cannot genuinely love his congregation if he isn’t with them all at once to me seems odd. Spurgeon could not possibly have known many of the 1000’s of people who were in his church – but to say he didn’t love them is false. Driscoll clearly loves the members of Mars Hill very deeply, even those in other states, his heart overflows with love for them. I deeply love my brother, but I can only speak to him on skype and see him rarely due to the distance between us – to suggest that my love for him is somehow less sincere because of this is simply not true. Yes on Skype you can talk back, but many who lead such churches are deeply in touch with each of their congregations and their needs and questions because they have effective leadership and communication through the pastors of those campuses. Often the preacher will still travel around multiple times and a Sunday and regularly visit each of the churches in person to further remove this issue.

    I think with the question of musicians the answer is fairly simple, namely that there are many God gifted and good musicians and not so many great and gifted Christ-centered preachers. Also musicians in many of these churches, to an extent, lead the service or parts of it meaning being present is much more important. Whilst the message of the Gospel doesn’t change and is applicable to all, musical taste and social background is not: many of these multi-site churches cater to very, very, different groups of people from different parts of society and in places where it is simply physically (and even at times legally, and at others financially) impossible for everyone to meet in one place.

    God throughout the history of His Church has caused to be raised up different ways of doing ministry to fit the specific contexts they are in. Most of these churches are not using multi-site screen preaching because it is cool or hip, but because after long, careful, and searching prayer and intensely seeking after God they have felt it was His will and His wisdom for them. I personally think it is almost impossible for an English minister like myself or Christopher to truly relate to how and why these churches arose as they did, and thus to say simply “It’s possible and it’s not wrong. But we will be wise to avoid it.” is seriously over simplistic.

  • Pingback: Additional Thoughts on Video Preaching – Gospel Driven Church()

  • Joe

    I am nowhere near as eloquent as the other commenters so my comments will be purely practical. First, it seems to me, that in the current culture of “rockstardum” the church isn’t too far behind and has created its own “rock stars.” We saw it first in our music and now in our preachers. In my mind the use of satellite preachers is in the same vein. Second, I can think of many preachers that would love the opportunity to preach but the “market is flooded.” Yes, perhaps they are not as eloquent or skilled in their presentation but is seems that many hearers are just as unskilled in their ability to hear preaching. Is this situation not to be used by the Holy Spirit to spawn growth in both the preacher and the hearer? Yes, the preacher needs to improve, but yes, the hearer needs improve as well. Surely we can find the grace to prefer one another. Finally I think this situation shows just how much we are consumers, expecting the product that we purchase to be professional, entertaining, and “worth our time.” We have taken on the corporate mindset rather than a familial one.

  • http://dyingtolive.org Phillip Higley

    This is a really interesting article, Christopher. Thanks for taking the time to think through this issue and write on it. I’m at a smaller church here in the Seattle area (150ish), and we’ve got multiple larger churches in the region that are multi-campus, video-venue sites. One of the larger churches even has a “hologram preacher.”

    Out of my various reflections on this phenomenon, I think it would be interesting to find out how many of these video-venue churches are training up pastors to regularly teach and preach in service, and if these pastors in training are also being beamed into the video-venues (just curious) while the primary teaching pastor is away. My hope is that each video-venue campus pastor is receiving training that 1) they intend to plant a church themselves, and/or 2) in the event of the lead pastor having a leave of absence, the campus site has a strong leader who is competent in the weekly proclamation of the Word.

    Just some of my initial thoughts…

  • http://twitter.com/pauldanieledgar Paul

    Dumbest thing I have ever read put out by Gospel Coalition. First of all, I preached live a few months ago at a larger church and I would say EASILY that 90% of the people present were watching the screen instead of me on stage anyway! I would argue it makes no difference, but if I had to choose, I would argue that churches with satellite campuses actually reach MORE people so that’s a win for the Great Commission, right?

    • Alan

      Paul, what’s the Sunday service where believers meet together to worship and are built up through the word got to do with the great commission?
      Saying that, I wouldn’t exclude preaching the gospel evangelistically from the Sunday sermon, but it’s a long way from the sum total of it. If pastoral care is not part of the Sunday sermon then fine, video preaching is perfectly good, but I feel it should be part of it, and I just hope that if it’s not it is picked up in other ways.

      • Alan

        Ooops! I’ve just realised discipleship is part of the great commission! I saw the comment, assumed it was about evangelism, and jumped, sorry! My comment is only to do with thinking the Sunday sermon is mainly about evangelism; I don’t believe it should be.

        I still do take issue with the comment though. Not being able to look your audience in the eye definitely makes a huge difference to communication. If you are aware of that, then you can work around the drawbacks, and try to make up for them. But I worry that if it genuinely makes no difference to your preaching then your preaching is not all it could be.

    • Peter

      ‘Dumbest thing I have ever read put out by Gospel Coalition.’

      This put me off just enough to take the rest of your post less seriously. I’m telling you so that, if you care about getting the thoughts in your head as entirely as possible into the heads of your readers, you’ll know one pitfall to step over. Passion is dope but it can hinder your communication. That’s all here. Grace to you, sir!

      • http://twitter.com/pauldanieledgar Paul

        “Passion is dope, but can hinder communication.” I like that. Thanks, bro.

    • Callan

      But this is just what the article is talking about. It’s not just about standing on a stage and preaching. It’s about sharing life, being accountable, having real relationship. I have as much relationship with the pastor on the screen a person on TV being interviewed, as much as downloading a sermon from here and listening. It’s not ‘wrong’, but it isn’t pastoring me the way the New Testament paints ministry. It is relational – the Apostles are not to send a letter stating the gospel hoping that will save people, they are to ‘GO’ and make disciples. There is a reason Paul leaves men in charge of his churches.

      Even at a conference the person is there, present, tangible. I can go up to him, ask him how he is going, what I can pray for him, how I was encouraged by him, or myself encourage him.

      And when the church get’s too big for the pastoral team to relationally love and manage, plant a church – big win the the great commission.

  • http://www.lambblood.com Rick Owen

    Reading, hearing and knowing God’s word through any means possible is a great blessing. Adding to one man’s ministry of the word through others trained to do the same, as well as through congregational participation (e.g., Col. 3:16; Heb. 10:24-25), is bound to multiply edification and spiritual growth.

  • Rachel

    I agree with the points in this article. I would be interested in hearing the thoughts of having the lead pastor from another site as the usual Sunday preacher via video while each of the sites has a “gathering” pastor that is in charge of the shepherding of that specific site. Throughout the year this “gathering” pastor will probably preach 5-15 sermons live in lieu of the lead pastor via video. Numerous churches in my area have been switching to this model.

    This model hopes to use technology efficiently to spread the Gospel further to multiple sites while having shared resources between multiple sites of a church and also providing an additional pastor responsible for shepherding and leading his site congregation.

  • Nathan

    I hear all of this, and agree to a degree. I’m a pastor and would resist preaching on a screen for all the reasons you mentioned. However, the Word can minister to us directly as well without a mediator right? Even Paul himself, you could say, edifies us with his letters without being “face to face” with us. I think the word of the gospel itself needs to be held above the method, though the method should still be given proper weight in our consideration of how to effectively shepherd people with God’s Word.

  • John

    The author is incorrect in the sense that there are no multi-site churches in the UK that exercise preaching via screenings. CCK Church in Brighton uses this method. It has to be said this development has arrived in the UK! Whether I am for or against such practices I am unsure, however valid reasons were put here against it.

  • M.

    This is another terrible article shared by authors associated with a group I love (TGC) against a methodology that is helping so many people enter church as well as find Christ and connect within a church for further spiritual growth.

    While Ash appears to suggest these churches love music more than preaching what he misses is that the majority of these churches have found that spiritual depth and growth is accomplished in a far greater manner in groups that emphasize the application of the sermon instead of the sermon being the main tool for spiritual growth.

  • RStarke

    Cannot say AMEN enough to this. I worked for a short period of time for a company that sells large scale video equipment, which means it was used almost exclusively internally. Within weeks I had discovered it to be the most insidiously inhuman form of interaction, and that rather than enhancing relationships and interaction, it diminished both to a sometimes terrible degree.

    The preached word cannot be separated from the one preaching it. And it is partially emphasized by the experience of being truly with that man, before and after the service. We diminish the glorious reality of “God with us” when we don’t want to be “with” the one who proclaims His word on Sunday.

  • Joe Carter

    I have a serious question for those who take issue with Mr. Ash’s conclusion and favor screen-preaching: Should all new church plants have preaching from a screen?

    Technology makes it possible to videostream any preach in America to any church. Why then do we not take the very best of them and set up new churches with *only* screen-preaching?

    Also, do you not think that maybe it is God’s intention to raise up preachers sufficient to teach His people?

    • http://dyingtolive.org Phillip Higley

      Well stated. That was my thought exactly. Unfortunately, however, there are new churches being set up with video-preaching all over the county. Not to be disrespectful, but Mars Hill is doing just this. While I don’t openly condemn such “church planting,” I do have serious reservations. Why? Because as you imply, the church needs preachers sufficient to proclaim the Word. This whole situation, I fear, could create residual problems in the future… Again, I’m not trying to be snarky and lest fall into the two “invalid” points mentioned in the article, but I think cautious optimism is better than complete buy-in.

  • http://www.crosspointnow.net Andy Addis

    I am obviously in the minority in this post, but think I have something valuable to share. Especially since I was drawn to this article by someone who recognized that this was our church, and my image on the screen.

    How it was acquired, and by whose permission I do not know…

    We are a multisite church reaching rural Kansas, and much of the reason for our video driven multi site is utilitarian.

    I appreciate greatly the perspective that it is not wrong, but argue that it IS beneficial. The option in rural America for video driven multi site means that there are churches where they might not have been, that there is Christian teaching and community where it had not been and that the church exists in places where it had not been before because of financial and ministerial limitations.

    If that is not beneficial, I struggle to see what beneficial actually means?

    I also think it’s important not to throw every video driven multi site into the same pot.

    Are there places where it’s a cult of personality? Are there campuses planted where it simply an overflow of the teaching? Are there places where this tool is used in a less than grace filled/pastoral way?

    The answer to each of these is obviously yes, but not all.

    In fact, could not many of these concerns (and others) be made of smaller, ‘in-person’ pastoral ministries? The matter is less about the tool used and more about the character of the leader using the tool.

    Each of our campuses has a fully devoted campus pastor who connects deeply and loves that community. He is known in, among and around that location and lives in the midst. In fact, we have discovered that this model allows Ephesians 4:11–12 to be lived out in our Christian community.

    We have for several decades confused pastor and preacher. most churches will choose a pastor after they went to listen to him preach… despite the fact that the gifts and calling for these are different.

    In a video driven multi site, a true pastor can spend every ounce of time loving, discipling and pastoring… not scraping together a message to present that is outside his gets set. Should he be ready to give the word whenever needed, absolutely. But, should he be truer to his actual gift set and therefore calling… I would hope so.

    I know in most Christian forums there’s no changing anyone’s mind, and that is not my intent. I simply would caution the reader’s to not assume what the intention, practice and even result of a ministry’s use of video might be.

    In our experience we have been blessed of God again and again. We have seen an incredible harvest of new believers. We have seen true spiritual growth and depth in the lives of so many.

    What’s not beneficial about that?

    • http://dyingtolive.org Phillip Higley

      Excellent points, Andy. Thanks for posting! Also, TGC should have asked your permission to use that picture, in my opinion.

    • Dan

      Good post.

      I am concerned about TGC becoming a place where people feel compelled to post a critique of every minuscule issue. Too many people want to be the one to expose a “problem” in the Christian community. While it is critical that we police ourselves and be discerning about what is taking place in our churches, we need to live and let live a little on secondary issues like this one. This is not directed at this author per se, just a general observation.

      To paint with such a broad brush about those who use this is to virtually guarantee being unfair to some, such as Andy Addis.

      • Joe Carter

        ***we need to live and let live a little on secondary issues like this one.***

        I think we have to be careful about adopting that stance. If we must “live and let live” on every issue that is secondary then people will either (a) start making secondary issues “primary” issues, or (b) complete overlook/dismiss matters that are issues of prudence rather than essential doctrines.

        I think we as Americans tend to adopt a utilitarian “if it works and the Scripture ain’t against it, then what’s the problem?” That makes it too easy to dismiss or overlook valid concerns that we may have. An example is the very issue of screens. Almost our entire life now is directed toward looking at a screen: we look at computer screens at work, TV screens at home, and smartphone screens everywhere, etc. What does it mean that we are bringing screens into the church to replace the real-live preacher?

        I’m not saying we have to be against it, necessarily. But we should consider the broader implications of the choices we make. There is about 50 years of study on the effect that mediums (like TV screens) have on the messages we deliver. To simply ignore that research because some churches seem to like the preaching-by-screen seems imprudent. We should have honest conversations and be free to consider the broader implications (for instance: Would people be fine if *every* church in America had a screen-preacher?).

    • Toby Coffman


      My wife and I actually recently began attending the Salina campus of CrossPoint and became members back in March. We love your preaching and have been blessed by our membership in that body.

      I was confused when I saw a picture of you on this website during my lunch break. While I certainly have reservations about screen-preaching, I can attest that it has been handled extremely well in the case of CrossPoint. There is no other church like this reaching our rural towns and God is blessing your work.

    • Stephen

      Andy, are you aware of grammatical arguments that say the “pastors” and “teachers” in Ephesians 4 are the same group, “pastor-teachers”? Besides that one verse, where in Scripture do you see distinction being made between pastors and preachers? I am not trying to start an argument, but you brought up a curious point that I have not heard much before.

      • http://www.crosspointnow.net Andy Addis

        I am aware Stephen, and its a good thought. However, even though the definite article is not used in conjunction with “teachers” the passage still clearly list two separate gifts: tous poimenas kai didaskalous.

        At best we could say the lack of a definite article means they ‘might’ be the same person, but it definitely indicates they are two separate gifts that could be employed by two separate people, Or could be employed by the same person. My argument is that for years we have mandated preachers be pastors and pastors be preachers and I see nowhere in Scripture that one must be the other.

        So, I would ask you the same question… Outside of this passage, do you see that preaching and pastoral gifts are mandated within the same person?

        Promise, I am not being snotty. I really enjoy the discussion.

        • Alan

          Sorry Andy, but the fact that the article is only used for the first noun, and the two nouns are connected by kai, a conjunction that always joins equal units, means that there is definitely only one person in mind who is designated by both titles. I’m not sure if that’s part of Colwell’s rule, but is absolutely a tight rule of Greek grammar, and I could look up the details if you wanted to be sure.

          I suppose that doesn’t rule out that each gift could be found independently, but that’s an argument from silence; what Paul describes in the list is without any shadow of doubt individuals who possessed both gifts/fulfilled both roles.

          Saying that, even if that’s the assumed norm, there’s plenty of room to discuss if the roles can be separated.

          Just from my own point of view I would think there’s nothing at all wrong with someone solely pastoring, but I would be wary of someone gifted in preaching/teaching who was not also pastoral. A natural pastoral concern may not be necessary to teach in a seminary or college, but I would argue it is within the church.

          And having said that, shouldn’t Titus 1 inform us on the church leaders being gifted in teaching, and Titus 2 on the way teaching should occur throughout the church? If we add that back in to the idea of a pastoral worker being one the church leaders then they’re back to being pastor-teacher again!

          I’ll leave my thoughts there open for reply/disagreement/being-ignored, I’ll be going round in circles if I go any further! :)

          • http://www.crosspointnow.net Andy Addis

            Interesting. I know this language debate was not the focus of the article or the response, but still interesting.

            So, why then is this a uniqueness in Scripture? No other gifting, to my knowledge, is found in a pairing. But, if multiple practices or expressions are found in a specific gifting, they aren’t specified. For example, prophecy could mean current day discernment, or future casting (to use incredibly non-theological terms), but they are never divided… they are just prophecy.

            Yet, pastoring/shepherding are always listed as separate gifts, even when they are in the same person.

            For example in 1 Timothy 2:7
            For this I was appointed a preacher and an apostle (I am telling the truth, I am not lying), a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth.

            The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001), 1 Ti 2:6–7.

            I know there is a different GK source word for ‘preacher’ here, but still… the two gifts are widely separated by more than a ‘kai’ and obviously thought of as distinct and different giftings.

            I think that Scripture teaches repeatedly they are different gifts and therefore God may gift His own accordingly.

            • Alan

              I’d not thought of that before. I imagine it’s not all that strange as there aren’t a huge number of these lists, and analysing them against each other doesn’t work so well as they aren’t particularly ‘technical’ (even though I suppose I’m actually talking about them that way too!).

              I guess those two are paired where they are because in the context of the gifts to the local church they naturally go together, and I’d say don’t separate well. Or looking at it the other way they are both mentioned because Paul couldn’t describe the role with just one of them.

              I’m afraid I don’t quite follow where you’re going with the 1 Tim reference, and pastoring/shepherding always being separate. I thought pastoring and shepherding were the same thing. And Paul isn’t describing roles in the church there, he’s describing his own special role as apostle to the Gentiles.

              I think any talk of church leadership gets complicated when you go beyond the biblical roles of elder and deacon, and even then it’s awkward coz there’s barely anything said anywhere about what a deacon should do. (Probably worth saying here I subscribe to a simple elder led independent church model)
              Also, most of the time lists of gifts are given they are simply describing roles within the church. The verse we’ve been discussing is specifically about gifts TO the church, and the letters written to Timothy and Titus set out principles of leadership that simply aren’t relevant in the whole and multi-church epistles, so they should inform our view of church leadership, shepherding and preaching more significantly.

              From the pastoral letters and elsewhere I think it’s fairly clear that elders are responsible for the teaching in the church, which would at very least mean oversight of the preaching, though I think it’s fairly intuitive that they do at least the majority of the preaching. Peter’s advice to elders in 1 Pet 5 (I think) tells them to pastor/shepherd the flock, and Paul speaks that way to the Ephesian elders (Acts 17?). It’s just a simple association to my mind, the church needs pastoral care and teaching (different things, so they are mentioned separately), and the elders are responsible for both.

              It may well be wise in a larger set-up for elders to specialise, and the requirement for an elder to be good at teaching doesn’t mean they necessarily have to preach. But one of the points of this article is that having a preacher specialise to the extent that they are no longer involved in pastoral care is unwise, and that pastoral care is actually part of the job of preaching.
              I’d say one of the big problems of scale is that the Bible doesn’t set out many guidelines, and that it can be all to easy to import cultural models in their absence; the problem being that while there may be nothing wrong with whatever model is used, there is always a danger that the fundamental and relatively unspecific principles of what church leadership is about can be disregarded or buried under other things in the imported model.
              That’s the danger being highlighted here – the use of technology may well be good and beneficial, but if it leads to a divorcing of preaching from pastoral care then in the longrun it will do more harm than good.

              Having said all that (sorry it’s a beast of a post, but discussing things bit by bit would just lead to misunderstandings; that’s not far off my complete framework for understanding this on display to be torn apart as appropriate!) I also got from the tone of the article that it wasn’t saying it’s always wrong, but just highlighting how many pitfalls there are. For what it’s worth, from what you’ve said about your set-up it does sound very good, like you’re working well at negating the problems inherent in the set-up and using the technology well.

          • Michael Herrington


            Granville Sharp, not Colwell, and for both substantives to necessarily refer to same person, they need to both be singular. However, the one article and the kai indicate close association and certainly many take Eph 4:11 as referring to the same person.


            • Alan

              Thanks Michael, I had a feeling Colwell wasn’t right.

              Both nouns are actually plural though, so they do agree in number. I’m not sure they both need to be singular, just to agree in number so either singular or plural would do. Do say if I’ve got that wrong!
              And I’m not sure either noun is technically substantive too, though they do both have very clear and similar cognate verbs; ‘pastors’ certainly looks like a substantive participle but I’m pretty sure it’s a third declension noun, which I think is why you’ve read it as singular.

              That’s why I’m certain that there can only be one ‘person’ referred to (one class of person I suppose). There is one article governing two nouns which agree in case and number (accusative plural) and are joined with kai. It fits the Granville Sharp rule absolutely perfectly, though I couldn’t remember the rule’s name!

            • Michael Herrington

              I used substantive; I just meant noun. And yes, they are both nouns, not participles. Sorry for the confusion.

              If I understand it right (from Wallace’s Grammar), Sharp says that for the second noun to refer to same person as the 1st: 1) they must be singular, 2) personal, and 3) non-proper. So these, being plural, would not fit. However, the one article and the kai do show some sort of unity, thus the common interpretation that these two terms refer to the same office/person.

              And some would say that Sharp allows (when those three conditions aren’t met, here both plural instead of singular) for one item being a subset of the other. Here the 1st being a subset of the second. That is, all pastors are teachers, but not all teachers are pastors. That is the way I have heard that most often explained, but it is a debatable issue, I think.

            • Alan

              Thanks for your grace Michael, now you say that it does seem quite intuitive, it wouldn’t really work if it wasn’t singular would it! Though I wonder if it is talking about classes of people and if that makes it work still. As you say though, I see the ambiguity, and that actually I’d be applying the rule outside of its remit, though I’d be interested to see how often the construction occurs regularly in the plural and if there’s any basis to my idea. (Probably not, I can be quite good at wishful thinking, though I normally realise when I’m doing it!)
              Thanks for clarifying that, I’m more than happy to admit I was being too dogmatic – rightly so if I was right, but clearly I was wrong! :)

  • Jeremy Lee

    To be honest, I was on the fence about screen preaching before, but this article has convinced me that there is nothing wrong with it.
    I appreciate the honesty that comes with the first two invalid arguments, and find too many simple pitfalls with the two valid arguments.

    First: Physical presence for the assembly
    This argument seems like it forgets a few key factors. There *are* other preachers at a multi-site church. The sermon is delivered from the screen, but there are still one or many pastors physically present to minister, love, teach to the congregation. And it is certainly not true that you can’t feel the love and care of a preacher through a screen. Watch a video a John Piper, and tell me that you don’t think he is passionately concerned about you.

    With regard to live music, that only serves to emphasize the importance of the message. Not to downplay the role of a worship leader, but because the music isn’t as important, it can be led by anyone. Additionally, because the sermon is written anew each week, it must be delivered with more care and theological depth. Unless the musician is singing new original songs each week..

    Second: Authenticity
    Thankfully, screen-preachers aren’t in their basement recording videos, and sending them out. They *are* real people, they have real lives, and their lives, in our globally connected age, are probably more visible to the congregation than a less well-known pastor in a small church.

    As for face-to-face fellowship, again, a very narrow view on what a church that uses screen preaching is like. There are plenty of opportunities to have deep personal fellowship with other pastors who take care of the church. Even in a church of < 3-400, most people aren't going to get face-to-face fellowship with their pastor of preaching.

    Also, to be clear, I've only been a member of sub-150 member churches, and we certainly never used screen-preaching.

  • Matthew James

    Thank you for this article. I’m encouraged to see this view promoted on the basis of principle instead of pragmatism. I think it’s time for the church to honor God by respecting the limitations he has given us and get serious about training enough good preachers and pastors that every assembly could have more than one!

  • andrew price

    So a church of 2,000 has one person preaching, how many frustrated gifted preachers are listening? Crazy.

  • Brantly Millegan

    Great piece, thanks very much. I made a similar argument, but actually against most uses of the microphone in the liturgy in a piece ‘Of Mics and Men': http://secondnaturejournal.com/of-mics-and-men-2/

  • David Earle

    From the age of 13 when I accepted Christ, to the age 40, I attended and worshipped in the traditional model of the local church; one man who was preacher, teacher, pastor, and in some cases lawn mower, light bulb changer, and camel holder at the live nativity. These were good and godly men, who preached the truth of the Gospel and who were also stretched so thin by other duties of the church, that they were worn out tired.

    In 2006 my family and I began attending a church that was growing and splitting at the seams as hundreds were traveling the rural Kansas black tops to attend this church in Hutchinson, KS. It soon became apparent that something had to change. So the church, through multi-site screen preaching, came to the people. The church featured in the photo above was a result of that change. Hundreds of people’s lives have been impacted for eternity because this church was willing to be different and the pastor cared enough about his flock to work at getting the Word out to them in a way that wasn’t the standard “that’s how we have always done things” way.

    I have recently moved to South Carolina where my family and I now attend another multi-site, screen preaching church where lives are being impacted in HUGE ways for God’s glory. There are eight campuses across the state of South Carolina and each campus has an outstanding campus pastor and a godly, humble, knowledgeable senior pastor brings the message every week. Thousands have come to Christ through this ministry…yes, even at the campuses where the message is brought on screen. Thousands are being baptized. Chains of addiction are being broken. Lives and relationships are being restored. God is being honored, glorified and worshipped.

    I am not a seminary-trained theologian, but to me, the two screen preaching examples that I have personally encountered seem to be highly beneficial to God’s kingdom work here on earth.

    • Matthew James

      When I hear that, it just sounds a lot like “the ends justifies the means” to me. Who’s to say they wouldn’t have accomplished more long-term good had they trained up mature godly preachers and planted fully functioning churches instead?

  • Dan B.

    If we rationalize preaching by video link in multi-site churches because one minister is more gifted at preaching than others (an argument made in this thread), what’s to stop us from identifying the “most gifted” preacher and beaming him in at venues all across the world?

    It seems to me we’ve already stretched the notion of local church so much that one wonders why it can’t be stretched even more.

  • david carlson

    i see this article as an argument against any church being larger than 150 attenders, not per se a screed against multi-site

    • Matthew James

      Now here’s a thought… If we make that number more flexible let’s just say 100-200… In principle, might that not be a very good idea? I would say there’s a lot more to that than we might want to admit.

  • Ken

    Although I accept many of your premises I think you are guilty of putting “new wine in old wine skins”. Media has always be multi-dimensional and we, in my opinion, should not put any emphasis on any one type over another. One could be a front row regular in a relatively small church and not have any personal contact or relationship with his preacher. Conversely a godly leader of a large church might have an authenticity that would transcend the distance. Heresy has been experience on many levels with an on-sight charlatan. The same people who criticize the video church spend hours watching you tube, netflix, redbox and movies and see to lack of connection there. Lets grow up and discern the truth as it is taught through the Word and not overly concern ourselves with the medium.

  • Simon

    I would say this is a wisdom issue and not a right or wrong. Hence it might be helpful in some situations and not in others.

    A screen speaker is not too much different to a live speaker in mega-church. Neither can know, love, demonstrate, or share their lives with many in the congregation.

    The arguments against a screen speaker are the same arguments for a smaller congregation.

    There would have been quite a big gathering in the Jerusalem temple courts after a few thousand were converted in one day. But note that they also met in smaller groups in their homes. No doubt God began raising more leaders as well.

    The question we need to ask is, what best for making disciples of Jesus who love and make other disciples? I would say this varies depending on the situation.

    • Matthew James

      “Hence it might be helpful in some situations and not in others” sounds more like a “pragmatic issue” than a “wisdom” issue unless wisdom is essentially defined by what helps pragmatically.

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  • Preston Stevens

    Two questions regarding multi-sites.

    Are new preacher/pastor/elders being raised up? Or are the gifts of others being sacrificed for someones “greater” gifts.

    Second, could it be that the one multi-site falls in to a state of pride by doing this being “the one with the gifting to preach”.

    We are such busy bodies these days instead of just loving people by showing, teaching, and living the gospel. Its not all that difficult. The pastors in China are seeing much more work of the Spirit then we are with all our advanced capabilities.

  • http://geoffchapman.wordpress.com Geoff Chapman

    Multi-site is the logical conclusion of an array of hidden theological and philosophical assumptions in Reformed theology. These should be examined before talking about particulars.

  • http://missionallendale.wordpress.com/ Joey E

    I can’t speak for all churches, but our church just launched its 5 campus (and for reference, I’ve been a part of this church since there were about 30 people on each Sunday).

    I struggled with this at first, but I think we’ve done things in a way that minimizes the concerns presented here. One, we have a “campus pastor” on each campus. They help facilitate worship, and they are a central connection (although we know that a deeper level of community occurs in small group settings, not on large Sunday morning — or Saturday night — gathering).

    Second, because we video Saturday night, the teachers can teach “live” at any campus on Sunday mornings, and any campus can have video on Sunday mornings. This alleviates the concern that there is NEVER an in-person connection.

  • John Ross

    There is much to agree with in Christopher Ash’s pretty sensible and balanced opinion, and undoubtedly Bob Fyall is right in what he says about incarnational preaching. But for all that ‘screen preaching’ can provide valuable access to a regular consistent biblical preaching for small congregations in the Scottish Highlands. For example, a small group at the end of a single track road, in remote Achiltibuie, on the west coast of Wester Ross, is able to link with David Meredith’s ministry from Smithon, Inverness, eighty miles away. Unable to financially sustain a regular week by week local ministry, such small congregations are able to intersperse ‘live’ ministry with screen preaching. It may not be ideal, but it is better than listening to someone attempting to do what they are not called or gifted to do, or using a sound recording or having a sermon read.

  • http://chrisblackstone.com Chris Blackstone

    If anyone can point me to a Bible verse that says the preacher during gathered worship has to be the best preacher available, please point it out.

    … crickets …

    Fact is, there is no biblical support for the idea that we have to present our best preacher to the most people as possible and leave the “less” or “differently” gifted for the personal pastoral work. What about the churches in the Bible where elders were appointed after only a few months of being believers? Are we to assume that they were all stellar preachers?

    The philosophy behind video preaching seems to exalt expediency and practicality, when the Bible seems to encourage patience and particularity.

    Maybe the reason it’s so hard to grow a big church and manage the relationships (having to separate preaching pastor from campus pastor, etc) is because God doesn’t intend for an individual local body of believers to be that large? I heard Thabiti Anyabwile suppose that a few years ago and it’s really stuck with me.

  • http://www.FaithLikeThat.net Michael Bishop

    “Moreover, Carl Trueman has observed that multi-site ministries tend to use live musicians, and he asks what view of preaching is implied when the music must be live but the preaching can be remote. It’s a perceptive question.”

    That question really struck me hard. Until I moved across the country, I was part of a church that used screen preaching. My deep love for my home church makes it tough for me to be ‘against’ screen preaching in any way, but I must say that I found myself generally agreeing with the author here. As much as I wanted to get on board with the idea when my church switched to it, I always had to suppress something inside of me that never felt like it should be the ‘normal’ practice every Sunday. Like was stated though, there are certainly bad reasons to oppose it; but there are also some very valid considerations to take into account too. And actually, I think his reasoning is very much on target.

  • Josh Allan

    Your line of reasoning is interesting, but seems particularly weak outside of the extraordinarily limited field of Sunday morning preaching.

    What is the rationale then for those who have a radio, or television ministry? Or for those who post their sermons on the internet? What about published books of sermons? What about sermons delivered to the blind or deaf?

    Do you think that there is something uniquely special about the sermon that is delivered on a Sunday morning to a specific gathering? If so, what is the Biblical support?

  • Cliff S

    I’m not trying to be controversial, I really would like to understand. What’s the point of the satellite churches? If you have a group of believers, gathering for worship and ministry, why wouldn’t they simply constitute themselves as a new church?

    Again, it’s not a rhetorical question…I really don’t understand. There are many good men who are called to the pastorate, why wouldn’t you call them to lead these satellite churches?

    • Michael

      I believe it would be much better for churches to plant other church rather than this multi-site stuff.

    • Matthew James

      It’s usually easier financially, and it enables a few key people to exert an exponential amount of influence.

  • Terry W Spencer

    Much of the observations here can be applied to the mega-church in general. Many members of the nation’s largest churches never personally know or receive any kind of pastoral care or love; indeed, some may not want the attention, which speaks to another problem. But it seems that in this day the pastor is becoming more and more remote from the congregation he serves.

    • http://twitter.com/pauldanieledgar Paul

      How many megachurches have you been to? While that might be true for some, my experience as a member of a larger church with thousands of people through many different campuses is the exact opposite. It’s a dangerous thing to assume that just because you see a pastor has a larger congregation… I can speak from experience that although my pastor might be considered a “celebrity” pastor to some, that is a ridiculous conclusion. He loves people, shepherds them well, disciples many, makes sure we have enough campus pastors at each location so that people will be held accountable and served well. And time and time again, I have seen my pastor stay and greet those well after the service was over. My pastor’s Sunday lasts 16 hours easily.

      I can say the same for a couple of other churches that I know have large churches. I am blessed enough to know many of these men personally. All of them love people. They even set up environments in their churches for members and visitors to come meet with them after the service!

      So, if you have not tried out megachurches, please quit critiquing them with such arrogance and misplaced judgement.

      • Matthew James

        Dear Terry, I just wanted you to know that I read your same comment and didn’t notice the arrogance and judgment that were noted above.

  • Richard Carwile

    I think the bottom line is pastors must shepherd their people. Some pastors do this well in a church of 2,000. Some pastors do terribly at shepherding, even if they only have 50 people. The heart of a shepherd makes all the difference. Pastors can hide behind a pulpit or a video camera, regardless of their church size.


    Distant pulpit, distant pastor…..that simple. Only those in the “inner circle” really get to know “the boss.”

    Star system is a strongly American phenom and may I suggest the volumes written by David Wells on this and related topics?

    • http://chanroberts2.wordpress.com/ Chancellor C. Roberts, II

      I agree, John, that the idolatry that is celebrity has infected the American Church. It’s one element of the syncretism within American Christianity. I have no objection to using technology, but I do take issue with this whole cult of celebrity that we have going on today.

  • David M

    Aren’t we missing the point here? I think it’s great the church uses every available method to reach as many people for the gospel as possible. Aren’t we fighting the wrong battle when there are so many other things to be prayed over, fight for, and die for? Driscoll did a teaching on boundaries once that I really appreciated. It went something like this; wars are fought over national boundaries. Lives are lost over national boundaries. Not so with state boundaries. People come and go without second thoughts. Church is no difference. We have national boundaries in church we are willing to die for (ie, Jesus is the only way to heaven, that He took our place on the cross and was raised up) what is a state boundary is how we do some things. Things like video sermons, type of worship music, lights, seating, are all maturity issues, not scriptural ones.

    As long as it’s not a sin nor anti-scriptural, and reaching people for the kingdom, aren’t we wasting our time and resources on this topic? Didn’t Jesus say in Mark 3:25-26 “If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand.” Is this video sermon satanic or just a preference? Shame on us. Let’s start supporting our brothers and sisters of all churches and methods that are keeping Christ central and work together.

    I applaud and support our Christian brothers and sisters using technology to spread the gospel.

    • http://chanroberts2.wordpress.com/ Chancellor C. Roberts, II


      I disagree with your “every available method” argument because of a little something called syncretism – mixing the world with the word, incorporating elements of the world into Christian faith (e.g. animism mixed in with Latin American Christianity, churches using the Easter Bunny and Satan Claus in America, mixing American individualism or psychiatry/psychology or evolution in with Christian faith and practice). Sorry, we have to really be careful about taking the attitude that “as long as it’s not a sin nor anti-scriptural…” There’s a huge difference between contextualization and syncretism. There’s too little of the former and too much of the latter in the Church today.

  • http://symphonychurch.wordpress.com/ Bishop Gary DeSha

    Here, here! It is just not personable for a pastor to preach to other locations via TV broadcast. It is not the same as being with the people. It’s like watching a worship service on TV…you are not in fellowship with those actually in the service. But, if you are at a location and the pastor as it another, in my experience was an instant turn off. To me, it is a sign of arrogance, that the pastor of the “main” campus won’t assign a pastor for the other campus to actually shepherd that group. To me, it is also a sign of control. The pastor of the main campus MUST be in control of everything concerning “his” church. That is what it appears to me. It doesn’t follow NT teaching on church leadership and conducting worship, etc. In my opinion, it is not right.

    • Samantha Wallace

      I see what you’re saying here but I don’t think that every church with satellite campuses fits your description. I have attended a church like this and each campus had it’s own pastor. I attended one of the satellites and it never felt like a cult of personality. The speaking pastor was just one of many pastors on staff and was not considered to be the “owner” of the church. The church is thriving and the congregation is learning to be the church and to fellowship with each other. I’ve attended another church where the pastor is present and he never interacted with the congregation. In my experience I had much more contact with the pastoral staff at the satellite campus than with pastoral staff at the church where the pastor is on-site. I realize this is not always the case but I think it’s worth considering. I am sure that there are churches that follow the pattern that you describe but I would hope that we could all learn not to throw out the baby with the bathwater.

  • David Roediger

    I honestly think that at the root of this disagreement is sinful, which Christopher himself seemed to acknowledge at the beginning of the post. This post doesn’t take into account the amount of success that many multi site church campuses in the U.S. have attained, and I am not speaking of worldly success. This post also turns a blind eye to the leadership structure that is placed within these multi site campuses to address the issues of discipleship. Lest face it, If you are in a church of over 100+ people, you as a lead pastor can no longer disciple every person in your congregation on your own. You will need to train up leaders to help you. There are only so many people that you can physically meet with. It also sounds like some of us need to remember that discipleship does not happen during a church service. It’s what happens when you are in relationship with other christians who have been trained up to be disciples. A teaching pastor is not capable of living in personal life giving community with every person in his church, this does not mean that he is not held responsible for the discipleship of his flock, it is just not physically possible. So the whole argument that says that the lead pastor needs to be physically present in order to adequately disciple his congregation is simply not true.

    Also, I find it interesting that the primary biblical examples given in this post were of Paul, who was responsible for planting numerous churches. How was Paul able to adequately disciple his church? He most definitely did not live in community with everyone, and he didn’t teach every week. He appointed leaders. At every multisite church I have been to, there was a leadership structure in place to serve the people of that church. There were lead pastors, assistant pastors, worship leaders, and deacons (volunteers who were trained and ordained by church leadership), specifically for the purpose of shepherding, counseling, worshiping, teaching (when there wasn’t a video), and discipling. Maybe it’s your cultural inexperience Christopher, but statistics show that members who attend a multisite campus are more likely to attend, generously give, selflessly serve, take responsibility for their communities by loving people and spreading the gospel, and least likely to be consumers. Actually what many high profile pastors here in America find, is that many consumers and tourists are showing up where the lead pastor physically preach, out of desire to see “the show”.

    • http://chanroberts2.wordpress.com/ Chancellor C. Roberts, II

      David Roediger, Paul trained a church leadership in each of the churches he planted and they did the discipling, they equipped the congregation to do the work of ministry (Ephesians 4:11-12) and they sent people out to the surrounding regions to preach the gospel and plant other churches. Paul focused on strategic urban areas (e.g. Ephesus, Corinth) and the churches he planted there reproduced themselves into the surrounding region.

  • gretchen horton

    Other than the people and the pastor not connecting in such a setting, is the fact that large bodies of believers have a disadvantage in getting to know each other. Yes, I know – small groups, but there are some limits. I belong to a small congregation – 120 or so, and we know each other, what’s happening in our lives and families. We pray for each other, repair each others roofs, and provide meals when needed. Rather than putting up a screen to hear good preaching (of course that’s good) – new churches must be planted and grown in the model of the New Testament 1st century church. Mega churches are a recent development and may not offer the fullest extend of fellowship. When is a church too large? When they must watch their pastor on a big screen!

    • http://twitter.com/pauldanieledgar Paul

      Who do you think wants the church to be small? God… or Satan? The problem is that most churches have become country clubs with a steeple where “everybody knows everybody”… God wanted the opposite! Just go read Acts! God grew the first church from 120 to over 3,000… IN ONE DAY!

      • Michael Herrington

        “God wanted the opposite”

        Where in Scripture do you see that God wanted the opposite of “everybody knows everybody”? Now, I know that you added some descriptors before that, but where is your data that most small churches are “country clubs with a steeple”? I know several, but you use an awfully broad brush.

        When you say, “Who do you think wants the church to be small?” I assume you mean the local church. What is your definition of small? Is there a number we should all be shooting for that God wants? Is it 3000? And have you just told numerous small churches that they are that way because that’s what Satan wants?

        A descriptive example of the power of the Holy Spirit does not a doctrine make. Again, you seem to be implying that small is bad. Surely you do not mean that? And please don’t mistake that I am implying that big is bad, but to point out that many small disciple-making, community-impacting churches are not what God wanted is rather callous.

        • http://twitter.com/pauldanieledgar Paul

          I was arguing that if you want the church to remain small and not to grow, that is invalid and against the work of God. Not all small churches are doing works against Christ! Not at all! Virtually ALL churches start out small. But what I am saying is that God never once notes that church should be a place where “everybody knows everybody” and many of the arguments here are saying churches are getting “too big” and I would argue that if you think that the church can become too large with too many people you are more or less going against what God wants.

          • Michael Herrington


            Thanks for the clarification. I would like to add a couple of thoughts.

            1) “God never once notes that church should be a place where ‘everybody knows everybody.'”
            But that is an argument from silence in the same way that me stating, “God never once notes that the church (I’m assuming you mean local body) should be a place where many people don’t know each other.” Yet, I would think all the one another commands in Scripture would be hard to fulfill if I don’t know the people in my local church. But again, I don’t really want to argue against big churches per se. I was a part of a large, healthy church for several years. The argument, which I think you would agree should not be about numbers as much as about the health of that church. Large and small tell us rather little about the health of the church.

            2) I am now part of a small church that intentionally wants to stay relatively small—so that everyone can know everyone. The way we want to do this is to plant churches in our large, rural county. We currently have people driving 30+ miles to attend our church. As we grow we are already thinking through planting another church in the next town over and thinking long term about where a third plant might be located.

            So we want to grow the kingdom (universal church) but through small, intimate churches (local church) were everyone does know everyone. I find no Scriptural mandates against that.

  • http://freedomchurch.cc Chris Cooke

    Hey Chris!
    A quick note to let you know that we are a UK church that is using multi-campus model. Freedom Church is based in Hereford, England, and is only around 250 people. However, in March 2011, we started a new campus in Cardiff. We decided, (after lots of conversations), to use the multi-campus, preach through video approach. Our senior pastor, Gary Snowzell, probably preaches 4 out of 5 weeks, and these preaches are shown one week following in Cardiff. In the intervening time, this campus has grown to around 120-130, including lots of salvations and baptisms. It didn’t stop there, however, and in the August of 2011 we launched a new campus in Kampala, Uganda. In January 2012, another in Bruges, Belgium and January 2013, a further one in Siem Reap, Cambodia. Kampala are now around 150 congregation, Bruges around 70 and Siem Reap around 80-100. Additionally, we have started small Extensions, which meet in homes or small external venues in Bristol, Swansea, Fiji and Odessa Ukraine.
    Can I pick up on some of the points that you make? I really appreciated your humility in acknowledging some of the resistance that you felt internally to a multi campus approach, that is more about tradition, comfort and pride, (I recognised most of those for myself!). Can I respectfully suggest that your later “valid reasons” are actually not much different, though? I would suggest that your argument is actually about whether a preacher/pastor can function effectively and biblically with a group of people beyond 150-180. ‘They need to do life in an authentic way with a local body of people.’ Agreed, but don’t tell me that the preacher does life with all of the 500 or 5,000 people in a larger church, because they don’t. They must have an authentic Christian life with other believers and continue to reach out to non-believers and not retreat to their study; that is very true, but is not actually an argument about whether they are shown by video somewhere else. We do have local leadership and pastoral structures. You then ask whether those people watching can have a sense of sharing in the preacher’s life and journey, though. A good question, but undoubtedly answered in the affirmative in our experience. I have had the blessing of not only visiting other campuses in our own culture, (Cardiff), but in other international settings, (Bruges and Kampala), and am staggered at how close our people feel to Pastor Gary and his wife Heather. They will reflect to me stories about his life and family, jokes he has told, challenges he has faced. It sounds bizarre, but they know him! They know him intimately! People that he has never met, in a far distant country and culture. Can I suggest that that is actually about the skill and authenticity of the preacher and not whether you are stood in front of them or viewing them on screen? There are preachers that I have sat within 20 feet of and have not felt that I have truly known them at all. And it works! We are seeing true life transformation in each of our settings, in part because of preaches they are watching. And the sense of being a part of one church with one driving vision is palpable. In each campus we are seeing people grow as disciples and considering what part they can play in extending God’s kingdom, including leaving home to plant church somewhere else.

    • Josh

      Praise God that you churches are growing in numbers and that people have been saved! That’s amazing. I think church planting is amazing. I am not sure a multi site structure is the best way though. We need to be training more and more young men to lead, and relying on the preaching of some does not do this. I also think your particular structure is very interesting as you have the same sermon broadcast into completely different cultures. That would be one of my chief objections to screen preaching. I think in the new testament we see a lot of preaching is to particular cultures. We need a pastor who can preach to his flock, and understand his flock. I don’t think preaching is just about taking a passage and explaining it, I think it’s more than that. Even in a multi-site in same city I would imagine you’d get different cultures etc. at each site. I’d be interested to know how you deal with this issue.

      I do however agree with you that some preachers can be very skilled and they can bring huge blessings to lots of people, but why don’t we all just watch video tapes of Piper or Driscoll or Chandler or Keller, or all of them? We could just watch them on tape and it’d be of no difference really. You could still feel like you’re getting to know the preacher and their jokes if you stick to the same one on the tapes. In the future we could watch them even after the preacher himself is dead. I think you’ll agree this is a weird concept, but I struggle to see how it’s of much difference to a multi-site church.

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  • Alan Davis

    Something that was not mentioned (as far as I could see) is the sin behind much of the “screen preaching”, PRIDE…. Some I know that do this are saying in effect, “no one but me has the ability to exposite the Word into your life”. It is as if God can not raise up a preacher/pastor for that local congregation. Though many will deny this it is the root of much of the multi-sight campuses. The music is live, they have a campus pastor (to do the visiting etc.) but the preaching is done by someone who is far away and not active in the congregations life, all driven by pride and man centeredness.

    • Craig Henry

      In Philippians 1:15-18 Paul refers to preachers that he suspects preach with unfit motives. He chooses to focus on the fact that Christ is preached rather than feeling personally offended. Perhaps we could learn from his example how to relate to those who use methods that we don’t agree with.

      • Alan Davis

        So are you saying that even if the multi-sight is against the NT principle of church function we should just over look it.
        This atmosphere of “screen preaching” is part and partial of a much larger, “Paul vs Apollos” problem in the American Church today. Which feeds thew shallow church hoppers who run to the next “cool” thing, feeds the church hiders who hide easilly at larger churches, feeds the pride of preachers who begin to believe it is them that is effective, not the gospel, breaks down the growth process to raise up more preachers.
        A multi sight campus that can not call their own pastor and make their own decisions at the local church level is actually a new church plant but merly an extension of the central church.

        • http://chanroberts2.wordpress.com/ Chancellor C. Roberts, II

          Alan, I’m not certain that the phenomenon of “screen preaching” is part and parcel (http://idioms.thefreedictionary.com/part+and+parcel) of a “Paul vs. Apollos” problem (not that it is a problem, because Paul said that he planted and Apollos watered) as it is a Corinthian problem (“I follow Paul, I follow Apollos…” which is what I think you meant) and the idolatry that is celebrity (in this case, elevating pastors to celebrity status). What we end up with is something like Rick Warren’s purpose-driven Saddleback cult or, perhaps, of new denominations forming basically around the celebrity preacher (like Chuck Smith’s Calvary Chapel).

  • http://www.lambblood.com Rick Owen

    I imagine many in the first-century church would have been delighted to see and hear the gospel proclaimed in as many ways and places as possible.

    One thought on the pastor-teacher discussion here . . .

    I’ve wondered if the pastors (or shepherds) and teachers (or pastor-teachers, whichever way you understand this) in Eph. 4:11 fall more into the group of itinerant ministries with which they seem to be associated (i.e., apostles, prophets and evangelists); whereas, perhaps elders are the more indigenous and permanent guides for local churches, just as deacons are more indigenous and permanent in their roles. The process for recognizing and setting apart elders is very much like that described for deacons — a very localized, homegrown, familiar-to-the-community process.

    I am aware of the interchangeable language regarding elders overseeing and shepherding the flock, but Eph. 4:11 is the only occurrence of the plural noun form of shepherd (“poimenas”) in the NT used for church leaders. This makes it difficult to be too dogmatic or detailed about this particular ministry.

    It could be that Eph. 4:11 has in mind many kinds of individuals who shepherd and teach in a variety of ways throughout the body of Christ at large. The focus in this verse and immediate context seems to be less about the specifics of what men do and more about what the ascended Christ has done in giving a generous and diverse array of gifts to the church.

    Granted, all church leaders, like fathers who manage their own households, are involved in shepherding, teaching, overseeing, protecting, nurturing, modeling godliness for God’s household in a variety of senses and ways. But this does not necessarily make them the type of pastors and teachers (or pastor-teachers) Paul has in mind in Eph. 4:11.

    Perhaps the short stay most pastors have in churches is more the NT norm (like apostles, prophets and evangelists), as their calling might be to move around and serve the body of Christ more broadly.

    If this is the case, then wider ministry achieved through any means (writing, speaking, media broadcasts, including multi-site big screens, and specialized ‘niche ministries’ as a ‘finger’ or ‘toe’ in the body of Christ) would seem to be not only permissible but desirable for such servants. Diversity of gifts is a mark of the Spirit’s ministry.

    Financial support would also seem to be more necessary, therefore justified, for itinerant (dislocated, traveling) ministers (apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastor-teachers) than for homegrown elders who (like deacons) appear to be expected to remain in their routines of faithfully working, providing for and managing their families, walking with integrity in their communities and providing ‘known and proven’ service in their local churches — the very habits which demonstrate they are qualified to serve.

    Thoughts on this? I would enjoy knowing what others have learned from their research or hearing about resources which examine this idea.

  • Joel Knight

    @Chris Cooke.

    Interesting, thanks for sharing that. To be clear,are you saying that your pastor in Hereford preaches 4 out of 5 weeks, via video, to other campuses in Wales, Uganda and Cambodia?

    What reason do you have for preferring to have your head pastor beamed into those places instead of someone on the ground who understands the context and can bring the word to bear on that unique situation?

    I find it hard enough to apply God’s word to the white, middle class and educated people who sit in front of me when I (occasionally) preach, I have no idea how I’d even begin to apply the word to different groups of believers in England, Wales, Uganda and Belgium. (Undoubtedly your pastor is a more gifted preacher than me so I don’t mean that just because I can’t do it no one can).

    By the way, I’d say that Christopher’s first paragraph in his valid reasons section is one that comes from his theology of preaching and is of an entirely different kind to his first 2 objections so It’s not really fair to say his later reasons are no different to his former. I would like to hear him explain why some of his later arguments don’t also apply to any church which has gotten too big for the pastor to know all the people in his congregation (or maybe he thinks they do).

  • Lee Furney

    “So can preachers preach from screens? Yes, they can. It’s possible and it’s not wrong. But we will be wise to avoid it.”

    It appears that the use of the words “avoid” (above) and “object” (title), together with the absence of any significant appraisal of the other side of the argument, has – I suspect intentionally – generated some stimulating discussion!

    I guess there are two perspectives from which we read the word “avoid”: (i) don’t go there – physically speaking – as a church member; (ii) don’t go there – strategically speaking – as a church leadership. Either way, or both, this is surely more of a ‘generally speaking, avoid screen preaching because of the aforementioned pitfalls’, rather than an absolute prohibition or dismissal of any such ministry. Christopher clearly qualifies his argument by saying that, “remoteness ought to be regarded as the exception rather than the norm”.

    So, there may well be a case for going there strategically in order to serve sparsely populated rural communities. There may well be a case for going there physically if you can’t find a faithful preacher locally. There may well be all sorts of anecdotal evidence about how God has graciously blessed many lives through the most imperfect means or how screen (and size) difficulties have been partially mitigated. But, caveats apart, surely it’s the sort of thing that we will be wise to try to *generally* avoid in our planning and practice for the stated reasons?

    If we place our trust in the power of an apparently weak gospel in the hands of the Holy Spirit, rather than placing our faith in powerful preachers, we will be happy to entrust the gospel to other faithful men, 2 Timothy 2:2. If we derive our assurance by belonging to Christ, rather than to a megachurch, we will be happy to consider attending somewhere that doesn’t look particularly significant or strategic in human terms.

    One further reason to “avoid” screen preaching might be that the New Testament push is an outward-orientated multiplication of ministers and ministries by crossing boundaries with the gospel; as opposed to the often times more Babylonian tendency of supersizing and/or centralizing things. It might be argued that screen preaching is a good way of doing this very thing where human resources don’t allow. However, we just need to ask ourselves whether this constitutes a valid exception to the rule, in our context, or really a step onto a personality-driven bandwagon under the auspices of the advance of the gospel.

  • Craig Henry

    I find it interesting that the Great Commission is not mentioned in this discussion. Couldn’t we assume the best motives of those who have taken this step? Perhaps they are more concerned about reaching the lost than how they might be criticized for doing so.

    It might be worth the effort to ask people who attend multi-site campuses why they attend. Often they attend in droves — campuses that use video preaching often have hundreds or even thousands attending. Conversions and baptisms are happening in droves, too.

    There is much research available on the internet about whether multi-site churches can be effective in evangelism, discipleship, pastoral care, leadership development, mobilizing volunteers, etc. Many of the pastors do share some of your concerns, but they see them as trade-offs that can be justified and/or counter-acted. Leadership Network has done great research and I challenge you to get the facts. Geoff Surratt and Jim Tomberlin have been on the front lines. They have books, write blog articles, and consult churches interested in this strategy.

    Here’s one church’s explanation as to why they utilize video preaching in some cases. They have done a pretty good job explaining. (Others have probably done so also.)

    I jokingly told my pastor that I liked him better on video than when he visits our campus and preaches in person because I could see him more clearly on the HD screen. He smiled and responded that he gets that a lot. And our local campus staff (6 people) does a great job shepherding us, too.

    • Dan B.

      From the link you shared: “as a leadership team, we had 2 choices: First, stop adding services and creating more seats for people to attend. or: Second, continue to add more services, create more space, and leverage video teaching to make it sustainable and scalable.”

      How about: Third, plant a new church?!

      Isn’t this what it all boils down to? Certain pastors extending their influence beyond what reasonably constitutes a local church instead of training others *and* sending them to start a new church?

  • Josh

    Interesting article for sure, not sure if this was mentioned in the comments earlier as I didn’t have time to read them all but my main objection to this article would be that it places the importance in the physical preacher over the presence of the Holy Spirit. When you have unbelieveably gifted preachers like Driscoll, Piper, Keller, Chandler to say that video preaching is ok but unwise seems well unwise. To aruge that they need to be present to be most effective or real (which I would assume being real and eye contact applies to effectiveness) would be limiting the amount in influence they can have and make it ALL about THEM. They aren’t the ones convicting me and leading me to joy in Christ, it’s the Holy Spirit through them. To argue they must be present bodily for that doesn’t seem to hold true. If God has gifted you in that respect why not reach as many people as possible and allow God to do the working and growing. I’m not denying face-to-face is what the NT writers longed for and offers much joy and intimacy. But it seems that video preaching can be equally effective (if done well with local pastors and leaders) and it would be unwise to not make use of it by someone whom God has given a large audience and sphere of influence and allow the Holy Spirit to personalize it as you would if you were talking face-to-face.

  • Craig Henry

    Here’s a great brief discussion of “Myths of Multi-Site Ministry” by Jim Tomberlin. Keep in mind that this is 4 years old, but it’s still relevant to this discussion.


  • Alan Davis

    Any church should be autonomous to do as they want. If they desire to have multi -sites then more power to them.

    Given that, those who do have multi-sights where the majority of teaching/preching is piped in and where the central church has a say so in the “multi-sight” campus need to stop the pretension that the “multi-sight” is a valid NT church plant. It is not. it is a mere extension of the central church. Until there is a lead pastor at the sight and the multi-sight members are free to make all their choices at the sight without the input of the central church and staff they are NOT a local church plant but still one church just spreading out geographically. In the NT each local church was free to call their own pastor (lead) and other elder-ship and deacons. They were free to make their own decisions at the local level. Not true of the vast majority of these mutli -sights.

    • http://chanroberts2.wordpress.com/ Chancellor C. Roberts, II

      Alan, I agree with what you wrote, but you might want to look at the issue of cite vs. sight vs. site (http://grammar.about.com/od/words/a/citegloss.htm).

      Paul’s missionary model (one that I think we should be following) was to go to strategic cities (e.g. Ephesus), preach the gospel, plant the local church, train leaders for that church, and then leave that church to reach the surrounding regions by following the same model of preach the gospel, plant the local church and train leaders for that church, having that church, in turn, reproduce itself by following the same model. The concept of a multi-site church would have been utterly foreign in the first century and even in subsequent centuries until the 20th century. We are now in the 21st century following not a first century model, but a 20th century one.

      As I wrote in an earlier post, once a church gets above, say, 100 members, it should split off and start a new church.

  • David

    From some of the more prominent pastors with these ministries we have heard them justify the use of these video franchises by claiming both pragmatism and gifting. Neither of those are compelling reasons. I am concerned about the unintentional consequences.
    -it communicates that you aren’t qualified to hold a pulpit unless you are as gifted as they are. Could we be losing an entire generation of preachers?
    -it sets up a poor model of elders in the local church. How exactly does the campus pastor oversee when he teaches rarely, has no say over budget, ministry philosophy, direction? The elders are some executive board, hundreds of miles away who never see the flock?
    -it robs existing local churches of many workers when the next franchise opens. These video churches claim they reach the lost. And they do. But it’s not lost people showing up on opening night. It’s hundreds of Christians who had been in another local church the week before and listening via podcast to the celebrity pastor. I see it first hand where I live. These video franchises open and are flooded with transfer growth. Meanwhile the celebrity pastor brags nationally that his church is rapidly growing by reaching the lost. Sorry, the emptying local smaller churches say otherwise.

    regarding motivation, while we cannot acurately know each individuals heart, we can safely say that our hearts our prone to sin. We know the intoxication of power. We know how easily idolotry creeps in. So i have a hard time believing it when I hear these pastors say they feel it’s a great way to equip and train multiple pastors by giving them a campus to run. This could be done as effectively in many different ways. I don’t believe it when they say it’s an effective/cheaper/pragmatic way to reach outlying communities. This is simply not the whole story. I believe they are overly impressed with their own gifting and their particular models of ministry. They are convinced that the results they see are because of them or their brand/ model.

    And I think it’s cheesy and it shatters my belief in humanity that so many people enjoy it…but that just might be my punk-rock-anti-establishment-wasted-youth rearing it’s immature head. ;)

  • http://chanroberts2.wordpress.com/ Chancellor C. Roberts, II

    David, I pretty much agree with what you wrote, though I would like you to explain your final, incomplete, sentence “They are opv”.

    We do seem to have fallen into the idolatry of the celebrity, particularly in the American church.

    It is an unfortunate fact that many Western churches are growing because people are leaving other churches, and not because unbelievers are coming to Christ.

  • Bob Browning

    I greatly appreciate this article.

    I also wanted to point out that I have been to worship services where the preaching was live but the music was on a screen. I am actually much more comfortable with this because everyone still participates in singing just as they normally would – and it even tends to diminish the spectator syndrome because you’re solely focused on the words that you’re singing and not on the “awesome band” on stage. That’s my 1.9999 cents anyway.