POC Blog

The random technotheolosophical blogging of Reid S. Monaghan

Is this a good thing?

The Christian Science monitor has an interesting post about churches that have messages pumped in via video without a live person teaching the people. In the article some of the reasons offered for doing this are:
  • It is a powerful, fairly inexpensive tool to draw in the under-30 crowd, who are comfortable with technology
  • Video technology allows leaders of growing churches in particular to gauge interest in other communities without investing in new structures and hiring more pastors.
  • Saves Money - don't have to build brick and mortar, have teaching pastor on staff

Some questions I think need to be asked. What is a "church?" Historically, protestants have identified three marks. Preaching the true biblical gospel, administration of the sacraments of the Lord's Supper and Baptism, and Church government. Does a video venue across town connect to these marks? Should that matter?

I have a bunch of questions that pop up. Should not the teaching pastor, be a local elder in the congregation? If a church has a local elder led polity, do the elders from the hub church "oversee" the video churches that are geographically dispersed? If so, is this not moving towards a bishop/parish model where people in one location make decisions for people in a movie theatre across town? If this is sound ecclesiology, then why could you not have video venues of a church in Georgia exist in all 50 states? Is a "message" now a piece of content to be "consumed" rather than a word of instruction, exhortation, encouragment that is to bring conviction, transformation, and joyful obedience to God?

For me, I am still on the fence about such practices and I love technology and I am 33 years old. I think I am fine with venues on site at a church due to overcrowding and growth that God is bringing...but I still have questions about sheep being shepherded across town, taught by someone that neither knows the people or can speak into their lives, or set an example for the people.

Additionally, there are a few interesting comments from the article.

First, Mark Silk, director of the Center for the Study of Religion in Public Life in Hartford, Conn, had this to say:

"This is part of the new ecclesiastical world order where niche marketing ... is the name of the game, and the standard model where everybody gets dressed up and goes down to the ... church for 11 o'clock service is not the model anymore,"
Second, this comment was also of interest to me:
Few, if any, Jewish or Muslim services include remote video feeds, because they require participation in rituals.
What do you think? Are "churches" that do not have their own pastor teaching them a good thing? An effective way to "reach more people with less resources?" Or just more American pragmatism that is marketing "church?" Indifferent?

'Godcasting:' Love that new-time religion | csmonitor.com

I would love to hear your thoughts.