How much time per day do you look at a screen?
I know you don’t track your screen time, but if you had to guess? I would say between the laptop I’m starring at now, the TV, my iPad, Candy Crush, and my iPhone … 28 hours a day. Maybe more. You and I spend A LOT of time in front of screens. Our actual life is moving more and more towards digital life. For better or worse, the next generation is experiencing almost everything through digital media. Just go to a concert and watch how many people experience the show through their phone as they record. Life through a screen is becoming the norm. As I type this, my son is “liking” photos on Instragram, my other son is playing XBOX, and one daughter is watching Netflix. Please don’t tell their mom!
It’s safe to say, in culture, the digital ship has sailed. Which is why, when pastors and church leaders dismiss video preaching, I’m perplexed. The multi-site movement in the church has created several new paradigms, and video-venues are certainly the most prominent. But many pastors and preachers are skeptical of video preaching.
But these same skeptical pastors in the past week watched movies, YouTube videos (or some horrible Christian alternative like GodTube), and TV. They have surfed the web, twitter, blogs, and more – all on screens. All in all, they have consumed hours and hours of content via video. They might have even participated in a video conference call. Yet, when it comes to the church, the idea of the preaching portion of a service being conducted through this culturally common media is questioned or rejected. We need to get past this rejection.
At Watermarke Church, we exist primarily as a video-venue of North Point Ministries. We will spend approximately 35 – 40 weeks a year streaming video teaching. The rest of our service is “live,” but the most important element of our service, the message, is predominantly delivered via video. Our attendance numbers show it works. The question is why?
Across our five campus locations each week, we have less than 20% of adult attenders sitting in front of a live preacher. In my experience, there are at least four reasons video preaching works in the church:
1. Unchurched people don’t mind.
In fact, they might find it terribly refreshing. Once the video screen comes down and our preaching is projected, I have yet to receive a complaint from an unchurched person visiting our church. The people coming from other churches are certainly curious, but the unchurched person – who is our target – really doesn’t mind.
It’s funny, but in some ways, the video might even be preferable for our target market. They recognize that watching a message on video is no different than watching a television program or movie. It’s only the “church” people who need an adjustment period.
2. Great content is great content.
I’ll take Andy Stanley on video over just about any live preacher, because great content and presentation via video trumps average live preaching. Of course, if you have only two options – a bad live communicator and a bad video communicator… Nevermind. Don’t choose either, show Andy!
But honestly, great content is great content, regardless of the distribution or media vehicle.
3. If you attend a large church, you watch the screens anyway.
This is my favorite reason. I remember the first time I attended North Point Community Church, well before I began working in ministry. The auditorium sat approximately 2,200 people. I was sitting near the middle of the room, and I was excited to see Andy Stanley live on the stage.
Guess what I watched the entire message? You know it – the screens! I could see his face and mannerisms so much better on screen. I could see his illustrations. The screens created a MUCH better experience. So if people are going to watch a screen anyway…
4. If you trust it, the audience will trust it.
I’ve seen too many pastors apologize for a video message. Even worse, I’ve seen pastors apologize before the video and then reteach the content after. Pastor’s must allow video teaching to stand on it’s own, and if the church leadership will give it credibility, so will the viewing audience.
So here’s a suggestion. If you are considering multi-site, don’t let any fear of a video-venue run you away. Even if you run it on a week or more delay, it can still be very effective.
Or, if you find yourself preaching almost every week, take a break and use video in your place. It will give you a well-deserved week off and your audience a fresh voice.
If you try video teaching for the first time, I’d love to know how it was received! What did you learn? How did you set it up for success? Are you willing to commit to a video message series (I’ll send you one!)? Or maybe you can just share this to help someone else find some relief!
I think it’s a GREAT solution to help preachers strategically miss some Sunday’s. The second point above is why I believe it’s possible and beneficial. There is so much great content out there, and my job as a pastor is NOT to preach every week, but to ensure our church is presented with great content every week.
One summer at Watermarke, we showed a video message from Andy Stanley, the following week a message from Craig Groeschel, then Furtick, then a pastor nobody had heard from… and each week got great reviews. I was careful to set up the content and explain WHY we were showing the message, but great content is great content.
One man’s opinion!
Thanks, Gavin! That’s helpful. Glad to know it’s working well for at least one church.
Thats where the problem starts brother in Christ you are trying to make it work for your church instead of allowing God to work it out for you. Trust in the Lord with all thine heart and lean not to your own understanding and he shall direct your path.
Thats what God wants us all to do is stop doing it our way and do it Gods way! Preaching in front of people is our ordained duty for God chose us for the great commission. Plan ahead and have another pastor to preach in your presence while you are there with the ability to meet and greet others the lost and it gives God the ability to reach others that are in your congregation or that might be sitting beside you in that particular sermon. God sent his people to be a part of the great commission! Rest comes to those that rely on God! You have the rest of the week to find a day of rest. I do believe video does awesome work around the world but for the lost that live near a church to expect to see the pastor or any pastor would clearly not receive the message with Gods intent in the message. His guidance will always be there for you no matter what!
totally agree with you.
Thanks for the article, Gavin! What do you think of a church playing videos of other pastors during the sermon time? Have you heard of that being done?