There is a good bit of talk going on around the blogosphere and elsewhere about the validity (or lack thereof) of video churches- i.e., churches where the preaching comes via satellite or video. The arguments for this can easily be found. I am simply going to register my complete dissatisfaction with the idea.
Some of the discussion arises from churches growing quite large and therefore seeking to plant another church. So far so good. However, some have said that starting a church with another, different pastor did not work, so they started the new church and allowed them to have the same ‘preacher’ by piping in the sermon via satellite link. In some cases these new churches are in outlying areas of the city where the ‘preacher’ ministers. In other cases, the ‘satellite’ church is in a different state (see Brett Maragni on this phenomenon). All of this begs some key questions about what pastoral ministry is, what corporate worship is, etc. If the oversight of souls (Heb 13:17) is at the heart of pastoral ministry (as I argue), then how does this happen in a video venue? Even if there are other elders ‘on site’, what is the impact of the detachment of the preaching? This seems to me to show that our view of preaching is too performance oriented. We want a certain amount of glamour rather than simply faithful exposition from a local shepherd. The fact is that while eloquence is nice, it is not required (1 Tim 3; Titus 1). Faithful, orthodox proclamation is- and certainly Titus 1:9 envisions preaching aimed directly at the local situation.
True preaching should arise from within the community as the pastor from within the community speaks from the Word of God to the people among whom he lives, works, shops, hurts and celebrates. Preaching and pastoral care cannot rightly be separated (in spite of the fact that they often are in larger church situations where the ‘main’ pastor preaches and others do pastoral care).
The talk seems to suggest that people are gathering more around certain personalities rather than around the word of God and within the worshipping people of God. It also suggests that we place too much value on the gathering of crowds. Certainly we want more people to come to faith. The question is, “What is the right way to accomplish this?” The place of community and oversight has simply been lost in so much of the thinking about the church in our day.