Wednesday, July 14, 2010

'Virtual preaching'...wave of the future or problem waiting to happen?

OK so obviously this blogging things is going to be my saving grace cause I surf the net for news stories and opinions daily. Some I agree with, some I don't. This one is leaving me with mixed feelings.

Virtual preaching. Yep We've finally arrived in the age of technology taking over the Gospel. So to speak.

CNN posted an article about churches that use technology to "beam" the image of the pastor on to the church's main stage for the sermon. Yeah, they still have praise and worship, offering, etc, but when its time for the message, the likeness of the pastor is displayed on stage and on the monitors for the congregation. Sounds very Star Trekky to me but I'm sure its effective.

Or is it?

Pros: I attend Victory World Church in Norcross, GA. It is an awesome 9,000 member multi-national non denomination place of worship that has basically saved my life and sanity. With 9,000 members and growing, you can imagine the problem with the crowd on the weekends. We have 4 services each weekend. Yes, 4. One on Saturday night and 3 on Sunday. Our senior Pastor, Dennis Rouse is amazing and delivers the messages at each service with so much energy and gusto. But I know it wears on him. So being able to open satellite locations to ease the congestion of our main campus sounds ideal. Pastor D does one service and we have less traffic in the parking lot.

Cons: But what about that much needed access to the pastor? I applaud any pastor that takes a few minutes after service to be available to speak with their congregation. No pastor should be inaccessible to their flock. So if you attend a virtual service, when do you get that hand shake from the pastor? That brief moment to bounce an idea or questions off the pastor? OK, I know that associate pastors will be there to fill in the gap but if a satellite church has its own staff, pastors, etc, why not make it a church plant avoid all the tech confusion?

I am open to any creative ways to bring more people back to the church. Even if it means wearing jeans to services, having flat screens in the sanctuary, and debit machines for the offerings. Whatever makes it easy for people. I am just in fear that all this ease and convenience will lead people to just attend church via the web or TV and not be apart of a corporate environment of other believers. Where will people tithe if they don't attend an actual church service? What happens to community building when people rely on streaming sermons? Who and what will keep the doors of the church open when everyone is at home in front of their computers on Sunday morning? Virtual preaching is good in theory, but can it be doing harm too?

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