I ran into a fellow pastor/acquaintance at the Q Cafe yesterday. He’s a good guy. We ended up having a short but substantive talk since I haven’t seen him for several months. When I last chatted with him, he asked for some advice about churchplanting and so I did the good midrash thing and asked him a few questions which he said he really took to heart and got him thinking. Those questions led him down a road where he eventually left his denomination and go figure, joined the Mars Hill Church network. He’ll soon be pastoring one of their zillion “campuses.” That’s just kind of funny to me that my advice got another pastor to join Mars Hill.
Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill has been on the national news a lot recently. The NY Times published an article couple months ago entitled, Who Would Jesus Smack Down? The reporter called last year and asked me for some quotes but I said, “No thanks.” My ego was tempted since it would have been nice to be mentioned in the NY Times but not that way. I’ve got my differences with Mark but heck, we’re still Facebook friends. BFF KIT TTYL. Meme me.
In previous entries on this blog, I’ve shared both the concerns and respect I have for Mark here and here. But my conversation yesterday with this soon to be MH elder got me thinking [again] about the church video venue. Honestly, it both fascinates and scares me. Fascinates me because of what it can accomplish and scares me for what it might destroy. Of course, MH is not the first and certainly will not be the last. LifeChurch.tv, which is part of my increasingly diverse denomination – the Evangelical Covenant Church, has 16 video venue churches in six states, the UK, and an actual internet campus.
Mars Hill has come out and publicly shared their goal of having 100 video campuses in the next 10 years. While I have and will likely always have some fundamental theological differences with Mark and Mars Hill, I genuinely share in the excitement of the gospel flourishing through their ministry. I know that despite the barrage of criticism they must receive, lives are being impacted by the Gospel and that’s a beautiful thing. But this video venue thing is still something I can’t wrap my heart around. I get the idea of the influential leader. I believe in leaders amongst leaders. I don’t have any problems with the fact that Driscoll is a gifted and influential leader but even with ‘campus pastors,’ I wonder if the writing is on the walls: Churches with certain influential leaders will market those influential leaders and thus, those churches will grow bigger and larger through the medium of technology ultimately leading to the decline and death of local churches as we know it now. Bob Hyatt – a pastor in the Portland area – shared some of his thoughts and strong reservations about the whole video venue thing and the possibilities that it’s like the Walmartization of churches.
“So-and-so church” video venue coming near you…
Quest will eventually stream video on our website as a resource to folks. But last year, I was stunned at the pushback I received in a membership class when I shared that Quest was committed to churchplanting which also included planting campuses. Instantaneously, several hands went up and some intense questions and conversations ensued because they [falsely] assumed they I meant planting video campuses. Now, I’m not going to say never but that’s just not us. We do hope to plant a campus on the Eastside sometime later this year if the Elder Board jointly discerns it’s the right time…
Supporters for the video venue churches will respond with the magic line that’s really hard to respond to: “But the Gospel is flourishing…”
What do you think? What are the pros and cons? I know the elders/pastors at many of these churches are making prayerful decisions but I have my reservations if this is good for the Church – not for now but for the future.
But while we’re at it, I want to claim this idea for myself. Don’t steal it! Introducing…Quest Church’s drive in Video Venue Campus coming near you.
41 Replies to “the church video venue coming near you”
Ok, let’s say you have 100 video venues. All 100 are interrelated and connected. All venues are focused on the success of this central, influential leader amongst leaders reaching the unchurched. Now let’s say this leader has a major moral failure from which he can’t recover. Maybe he decides he is the reincarnation of the prophet Elijah. Or let’s say he dies suddenly with no successor lined up and a power struggle for control of the movement begins. How does this church recover? I don’t know, but haven’t we learned that a church or movement built around a leader other than Jesus is a set up for future failure?
Come on Eugene, how hard would it have been to photoshop your face onto that drive-in screen? ; )
I tend to agree with your reservations. Part of it is relational; part of it is sacramental.
From the little I know, there is an alternative, that is being used by the Bayside family of churches, a network in northern CA and also Evangelical Covenant. Each of them is a fully independent church with its own pastoral and ministry staff.
We examined this idea closely last year at Highrock, and have at least for now, have landed pretty close to where you are, Eugene. My fears echo Glenn’s – if there is one leader that no one is in personal relationship with, then they are only getting a very narrow glimpse of God’s life in him. My hope is that what people hear from me on Sunday articulates what they see in me all week, which assumes some level of interaction beyond a voice up front on Sunday.
Secondly, if there is only one mythic leader, then Satan’s work is relatively simple. Take down one person, and you cause thousands to stumble. I can only barely resist Satan as it is, so I see little wisdom to make myself a bigger target.
Instead, we are trying to actively raise up church plants by raising up new church planters within our congregation. We’ve already planted a few, but my dream is to have a coordinated network of like-minded, gospel-centered, locally-focussed, missional churches throughout the Boston area so that eventually there will be a church like that in every neighborhood. This not only allows for better discipleship, it is FAR more effective at evangelism. And if Satan tackles any one pastor, there is still a wide network of other healthy churches to be a safety net for the one that is struggling. This is similar to the Bayside Church family that Rick referenced.
It’s interesting that Bayside and LifeChurch are both in the same denomination, which is also the denomination of both Highrock and Quest.
This kind of network also addresses another one of my key concerns. Tip O’Neil is credited with the line “All politics is local”, meaning that in the end, people care most about the issues that affect them most personally. I think the most effective preaching is local too – we are not just preaching objective truth, we are preaching God’s eternal truth to a particular people in a particular historical moment and cultural setting. Local churches can speak to the issues of that time and place. For example, I hear many outstanding preachers from Georgia or Texas, and they are far better preachers than I will ever be. But they are speaking to such a different culture and addressing such different concerns than what we see here in my part of Boston (there are many cultures in Boston, as there are many in Seattle), so those preachers will never speak prophetically with the same degree of personal insight. They may speak true words very beautifully, but the truth for our time and our people. My best sermons here in Boston would fall flat in other places because it is not what God is wanting to say to those people at that time.
I’d rather raise up a whole army of great pastors to serve in every neighborhood. Telecasting a few engaging speakers is very entertaining and satisfying to the senses, but doesn’t allow that person to know you personally. What pastors do is far more than preach, we care for individuals, and (I think most significantly but less obviously) we create a culture for our church community. The church community does far more ministry than any individual does, but the pastor’s job is to nurture that community so that it is truly Christian in every sense. That requires 7 days of interaction, not just a compelling sermon once a week.
I too am impressed by the calibre of many of these leaders and preachers, and thank God for them. But I am cautious about their strategy, even though I appreciate the evangelistic heart motivating the whole thing. It is so much easier to set up a video venue than raise up a new pastor. Its also easier to snack on Twinkies than to cook a whole meal from scratch, and the Twinkie may even be more tasty – but the meal is much more nutritious in the long run and will make those who eat it much stronger and healthier.
Maybe they will find a way to overcome this weakness, and I sincerely hope they do, but for now I am still waiting to see it. Thanks for raising this topic, Eugene. Sorry for a comment that is longer than your blog!!
Man, I wish i had time to really comment on this…
our church is dealing with this right now…
adding our fourth service on Sunday… each service is a simulcast to our gym-turned-into-alternate-sanctuary
Initially the idea was to build a HUGE multimillionaire building/campus…
We’re getting into lesser evils thinking here, but recently the Church shifted away from spending that much money for that, and the idea was to plant 1-2 satellite video campuses, much smaller, in different sections of town…
At the very least, it keeps churches more geographically communal… and having a Site Pastor there to be an actual pastor to the people helps…
I’ve never been a fan of video church… but for the time being it seems better to me than extravagant church building projects…
BTW : http://www.first-assembly.org
the only way I can see video venues really working is if it is with the view to grow and release; and not as the end in itself. A video venue can be a good segue into church planting but I also seriously question if it is a viable form of church…
I would just agree that an emphasis on empowering and training more people to use their gifts of teaching and leading should take priority over reaching more people through a video screen. ‘Reaching more people’, according to a discipleship model, needs to include some kind of personal contact and relationship with the people who are most influencing you, in my opinion (or at least one or two ‘degrees of separation’, where you have access to someone who is in relationship with the leader). For me, this also would discourage ‘mega-church’ models where the only time you see the lead pastor is up on stage, while you sit amidst 2,000 other people (and I know most would disagree with me here). But I’m glad that there is some real pushback among the church over the video-satellite thing.
I have been several times to LifeChurch, and while I appreciate the enthusiasm and the intention, and have serious problems with the way they do things. I have to seriously question any church that doesn’t directly lead people to engage other people in relationships. At LifeChurch, this seemed to me like a bit of a side issue. What seemed important was that the music was top-notch, which it is, and that the pastor was funny and said things just enough on the edge to keep younger people’s attention.
Now, I don’t mean to insult or degrade LifeChurch for this, because they are a part of a much larger movement, seeker-sensitive. So I would have the same problems with thousands of other churches around the country. But, I knew a guy who went to LifeChurch every week for years, and he didn’t know anybody at that church. He wasn’t the type to avoid people or slip in and out at the right times so as to avoid meeting people, he just went in, enjoyed the service, and left, and he never really met anyone. I have a hard time believing that that is anything more than entertainment.
Church is not a place to go for entertainment, it is the followers of Christ. Being a disciple of Jesus has to mean more to people than a reason to go to a church building once a week to be entertained.
And with this premise in mind, I think that video churches just exaggerate the problem. They make it less personal, less engaging. It is more accessible maybe, but if we take out of the Gospel all ideas of sacrifice then we lose the Gospel, because love is sacrifice. You only sacrifice part of yourself when you love whom or what you are sacrificing for. When I act in love for another person, I sacrifice my own ideas of self-importance and/or superiority. If we go to church because it is convenient, then we are placing our self-importance above our love for Jesus.
Again, I love their enthusiasm, and I appreciate the intention, but I believe that this misses the heart of what Jesus wants for us.
p.s. Is anyone else disgusted at the whole implication that comes from Mark Driscoll’s idea of Jesus, “Who would Jesus Smack Down?” I don’t know if he had any direct influence on the title of that article, but making Jesus into some kind of John Wayne, WWF wrestler type of guy I feel is blasphemous, and I never ever use that word. It is like he feels that Jesus has to be some kind of bully in order to be a tough guy.
hey folks, good comments. i want to make sure we don’t use this venue to knock down md or others. just want to make sure it doesn’t’ escalate to anything like that.
the reason why this is of interest to me is on some level or another, we all wrestle with how to negotiate technology to more effectively do our ministry.
What is the ‘gospel?’ …and what does it mean to say that it is ‘flourishing?’
Butts in seats?
People remarking at how ‘anointed the sermon was?’
I have to believe that the Jesus who kept sending people away so that He could impart something to 12, or even 3 men, would see video campuses as (at the very best) a distraction from the gospel.
We should be replicating disciples; or rather, communities of disciples; or rather, communities of disciples engaged in mission; or rather, communities of disciples engaged in mission while raising other disciples; not cool experiences.
The bigger question behind these venues is, ‘Why isn’t there anyone capable of leading them?’ Isn’t that a ringing indictment of the failure of the church at its primary mission to make disciples?
the argument that “the gospel is flourishing” is a hard one. it is difficult to say whether new video venue places are reaching people that weren’t being reached. i think there is an element of putting a pulpit pastor into too much of the limelight. mars hill has no where to go once mark driscoll is done in 30 years. i would rather them work on sharing his leadership and his vision with other leaders and give them a chance to lead as well. we see this all throughout history. local churches grow and expand based on one man (the lead pastor). until a church can figure out how to pass the baton well i’ll be skeptical of any “style” or venue.
Sometimes I wonder if this is just a symptom of a larger need to reevaluate church structure. Until now in American protestant churches you typically had one guy who was the most literate person in town and he was the pastor. He was both the leader at the center of the community and the teacher who gave them their doctrine.
Now that we’ve nearly perfected communication technologies we’re finding that it’s incredibly rare for a community leader to also be an excellent teacher – and vice versa. These roles are being split up now and it’s not uncommon for a pastor to give a sermon to lay persons who, themselves, have masters of divinity or an extensive knowledge of Hebrew and Greek.
Here’s what I think would work best: watch Driscoll at home before church. You’ve got the internet, there’s no reason to watch him on a big screen with strangers when you can watch him with your family. Then to go church and spend that time building a church community.
I am only a layperson but I think the multi-sites/video/simulcast thing is a bad idea.
I think there is much more to the gathering of the body of Christ then what this form offers. I have
had some experience with this concept as an attendee
and my observation is that most of the people attending this form of church are not involved in any meaningful community. But, even if you can solve that problem somehow, I think the bigger problem is that so much is centered on one (or at the least very few) individuals. I think that a pastor should really know the people he/she is preaching to – I believe that it keeps his/her message relavent and more importantly I believe it helps keep him/her grounded in the reality of life. When these pastors are too seperated and too elevated they begin to preach with absolute certainty about things that I don’t believe anyone can be that certain about. I think it has the potential to do a lot a damage. We need men and women to lead but they must be humble enough to resist leadership while leading, they must be in a position where they can do life with the people they are serving and they need to avoid being exalted.
I was reading about this over on Tony Jones blog and one commenter said something that goes along with what Dave is saying: “I learned from an amazing preacher in seminary that the Word proclaimed needed to be indigenous to those to whom it is given. It should bubble up from the fountains of the trials, triumphs and tribulations of the people in front of you, not be handed down from above or, in this case, over from another community.” (I think this is a very important principle)
JC says not to worry about it if it saves even a single soul. I disagree. Although I believe God often uses even the most dysfunctional efforts,I don’t believe that we should stop trying to identify better, more effective ways to create christian community, to share the good news and recognize any damage we may be doing.
I guess it sounds cliche but I keep thinking that although Jesus did at times speak to large groups of people he spent the majority of his time teaching and relating in a very small group of people that he did life with on a regular basis. It seems to me that the form we are talking about has everything upside down…spending most of their energy,time,resources and effort focusing on and reaching the masses and the least time and effort teaching and relating to a small group of people that one knows well and does life with on a regular basis.
I like what Liz shared a lot. One of the things I’ve come to appreciate about my church is that the pastor usually knows how people are responding to the sermon. We frequently stop the sermon for feedback from the pews and it’s not unusual for there to be disagreement from the voices that share on a given Sunday. But we’re just barely small enough and intimate enough that conflict resolution is possible.
I hadn’t realized how much I valued that until I thought of a video feed being piped into our sanctuary.
I have very high respect for you. I listen to your podcast pretty religiously and have benefited from your ministry.
Having said that, to question the video venue would mean that we should question alot of things. Why do we tape our sermons and post them online? Why do we make the available to others? Why are planning on providing video stream of your sermons in the future? Why do you have three services?
I would assume that you do it because there’s a need and while I don’t know Mars Hill very well, I think they are responding to a need.
I agree that we shouldn’t try to knock down MD or others, and I apologize if I shouldn’t have made that last little comment of mine. I just feel very strongly about some of his views.
We should question a lot of things, question everything. Part of the difference I see between audio/video podcasts and video churchplants/campuses, is that podcasts are meant to be a side resource, but not the main event. Video campuses are the main event.
For example, I listen to many podcasts and enjoy them greatly, but I know without a doubt from the podcasts that that isn’t the whole picture, but when I visit one of the churches whose podcasts I listen to, I experience the whole community of it. But my experience of video campuses is that it is more like going to a theater rather than a community event. You go in, enjoy the show and leave. Making relationships is like the choice to get a drink and popcorn, you could get it, but it is like a side option you have to pay extra for.
Eugene – Thanks for hosting another great discussion here. Kind of reminds me of Bill Hybels and the “Reveal” report — I wonder if video venue is headed down the same road as the mega-church in terms of developing Christ-centeredness. I guess we’ll know about 20 years from now 🙂
Liz – I definitely appreciate your thoughts. I don’t know if it was meant to sound this way, but I encourage you not to think of yourself as “only a layperson.” I think the professionalization (along with the Wal-Martization as Bob Hyatt described) of church ministry has had a hugely negative effect on how we all perceive our calling to ministry. While we have different vocations (and, for some, that involves being the preacher in front), I believe we’re all called to creative ministry.
Oh yeah, for some great insight into the effect technology has on communication and the Gospel, check out Shane Hipps — The Hidden Power of Electronic Culture and Flickering Pixels.
I think the discussion around the video venue concept is wonderful because it has so many facets:
-what is the value/benefit of technology in the church?
-what is the value/benefit of “satellite” churches?
-what is the real role of pastors, co-pastors, venue or location specific pastors
-how does all of this fuel the whole “post-modern” discussion?
What is alarming to me, is that generation after generation of church leadership and followers, (Christians if you will), continue to exalt leaders to such a level that if they fail, moral or otherwise, churches rarely survive intact. How is it that we continue to raise disciples who are addicted to the ritual and destroyed by their leaders feet of clay? How do we recapture that unique element of Christianity so disciples are so connected to Christ, they are able to follow him regardless of the video venue, satellite pastor, or fallen leader?
I have lived through radical church growth, intense missional living, sacrificed my life in years of ministry, and seen it almost destroyed entirely because of the failure of church leaders. In retrospect it has been one of the most powerful transitions in my life as it has forced me to separate the organizational structure, the feet of clay, and power-hungry, ego-driven leadership from my personal walk with Christ. I still attend church regularly, but Sunday service or any other defined service, is not the mainstay of my faith. Today I’m on a radically new adventure where real church is more about what happens during the week with my family, friends and neighbors, and the defined service is (hopefully) a small moment of celebrating how great our God is.
And if you must know…I don’t feel the video venue concept lends itself to a long term, truly local community which is capable of advancing the gospel.
Daniel – thanks for the reminder to me and others – I think I do feel that way at times (“only a layperson”) because it seems that the majority of people in the emergent conversation (which I am so grateful to be a part of) are in some kind of full time ministry position or at the very least have a degree from seminary. I don’t know if I feel inferior as much as I am humbled to be in the company of so many thoughtful intellectuals. Still, I think I bring an important element to the conversation and appreciate the opportunity to be heard.
@Rick in Texas:
by popular demand, i’ve edited the photo. actually, i don’t even know how to so thanks to my friend MacHero for doing that.
now, i’m going Hollywood!
here’s the jpg file:
amen to Glenn and Dan Hauge… There is certainly a need, the need for more discipleship. But amassing more and more people staring up at one guy up on a huge screen, that’s not discipleship, that’s called “viewership”…
Discipling, or “pastoring” people, means you actually know the people you are discipling… Anything else is just another mass-media counterfeit…
How can a church be present and incarnate in a community or city when the leadership is phoning in sermons from somewhere else? It’s like having Jesus on a conference call; “yeah, I’d really love to be there in Judea, but I’ve got some things brewing over here in Cairo. TTYL.” Sorry, but something doesn’t jive here.
The microwave was going to eliminate stoves. But it didn’t. It complemented the stove. Now, the microwave is another kitchen accessory like the spatula. Very necessary but secondary.
Video church will probably become that.
And I will be the little old lady who will refuse to go to video church with my grandkids (I’m only 35 now). We’re designed for community and video doesn’t replace true personal interaction.
my question with video venue is and always will be, “what happens when the video pastor leaves?” it’s inevitable. what happens? does the church die? do the video churches continue with the new “preaching pastor”? do the video churches get a new pastor?
i guess i really don’t understand the culture of churches where a person is that important that they would rather have a video preacher than a live preacher.
in defense of the VV model, i always find it interesting that the missional, simple church,anti-big sunday services, yada yada advocates place so much of their criticism on the sunday services when they acknowledge that church is more than about sundays. folks don’t really know what happens at MH monday-saturday, right?
Eugene – another great question and well mentioned point about Mon-Sat happenings at MH or any where else for that matter. My personal preference echos that of schreiberwriter (and I’m just 3 years her senior) in that the VV model will never replace true personal interaction. Then again, its difficult to have true personal interaction with “the senior pastor” in any large church, whether the VV model is in play or not, so perhaps the preference is moot. I still feel “the church” – while connected universally through salvation – should be a thriving local community. I would have a very difficult time being a part of a church (large or small) where the pastor is not a connected part of the same local community where I live.
well, if church is about more than what happens on Sundays (whether at MH or anywhere else) what is happening? all of life, right? not just the “weeknight programs”, like bible-studies, or small groups, but everything… real people, working and living with each other. Living out all the stuff we talk about in theory from our pulpits, and video screens, and podcasts, etc…
we know some who go by missional, intentional community, simple church, organic, or even emergent, etc. But we’re not trying to have any of these labels slapped on us, and we’re beginning to see there isn’t that much distinction between the Institutional Church vs. the above ‘movement’…so yeah its confusing to us as well.
it’d be cool to meet you, we know you’re busy, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have stuff to learn and could use some challenging discussion.
btw: we actually went to MH when it truly was ‘indie’ in both the U-District old movie theater & in 1st Hill. Then later in Ballard, so we have a little bit of an idea of what happens M-Sat.
As a Roman Catholic, video conferencing freaks me out big time. I don’t like to dump on Mars Hill because people make fun and dis my church all the time and I hate it. But honestly, do you get the same intimacy, teaching, ceremony, and direction out of a video? This might be an inappropriate judgement, but it seems like Mark knows that people come to see him and he can’t let the campus pastors preach individually, because he knows numbers would go down.
Great post Eugene and discussion everyone. Add my vote to the “creeped out by video venue” count. Reminds me of that mac commercial from the 80s: orwellian scene with drones watching the televised leader. Not calling MH or any other congregation drones, just saying that video venue fosters an unnecessarily hierarchical environment and is too detached. The church in America gets a lot of (deserved) crap from secular culture for being recruitment-driven in the way of “numbers over authenticity.” I don’t think the video venue helps to change that reputation.
And last- smoke machines and colorful laser shows are available to us too, but that doesn’t mean I want to see them used to welcome Eugene during sunday service.
I would pay at least $5 to see smoke machines and a laser show preceding Eugene this sunday. I would make it $10 if there was an accompanying rap.
I am on the anti-VV side, but not strongly. I could imagine a place where people came together, intentionally, to enjoy community and watch an entertaining speaker, similar in many ways to how people get together to watch their favorite tv show. I guess if you think that’s good enough, I wouldn’t insist that it isn’t.
My main question, though, would be the same as other readers’ questions. Why not plant another church instead? The two main reasons I can think of (charismatic preacher not willing to share power, or dearth of adequate leaders) are not good reasons, for any church.
My main problem with the institution of church in general is the lack of interaction, its passive and with a video it is much more so. Also when you have associate pastors who tell you how great a man the person on the screen is, its almost a cult of personality. In Lennon’s infamous words they are “bigger than Jesus.”
I’m late to this conversation and late to the wider conversation about neo-Calvinism. I don’t follow current conservative church trends as closely as I once did.
Having read your comments and the thread, seems like this post is as much about Mars Hill as it is video venues.
Re the Times article, I wish every media piece on religion was as nuanced and thoughtful. You should have been quoted, Eugene, though I’m sure you had no way of knowing how good the religion writer would be. Probably seemed like it would just be a hack job on Mars Hill. Surprise, surprise.
Driscoll strikes me–from the Times take–as a guy with a gift for incarnating a very legitimate if currently mostly destructive bible read. Good for him and Mars Hill.
At least he’s doing some contrast and irony and demonstrating that outward appearances can be deceiving.
Big step up from the culturally and intellectually constricted forms of evangelicalism that turned a once potentially wonderful spiritual and cultural renewal movement into the Republican Party at prayer.
Getting people in Seattle to buy into a tattooed and crude version of 16th century Calvinism is a pretty significant achievement by any standards.
Obama should hire this guy to market GM.
Talk about a stimulus….
The lure of kingdom building, influence, reach, opportunity, size, meaning, purpose, fulfillment, power, prestige, legitimization…didn’t Jesus point a different way, when He was offered all those things on the pinnacle of the temple? Talk about high visibility and impact?
Didn’t God have something to say about all that through the story of Gideon, David and Goliath, the wind in the trees, a woman at the well, a small seed and a baby in born in the back alley?
Jesus turned His back the immediate push to gain a following, answer all questions, prove Himself and reach the masses. He determined or should I say submitted to the plan from His Father on how and when He would attain such things…it’s been over 2000 years outworking.
I fear, we need to wrestle long and hard with the same offers.
Great thoughts folks.
Eugene, we have to get you to come over to Spokane and yak with and at us a bit…we will bring along some of our Spokane Karen friends too.
*i’m a little surprised that there isn’t even ONE advocate of a video feed campus, so let me push back.
vf does not equal anti-intimacy/relationships/community as this comment thread suggests. vf campus’ have much more than just a “site pastor”, there are all the makings of a local church body, including small groups and counseling. the pastoral staff rotate throughout different campuses and preach so that it’s not always a vf. MD used to preach for at least one service at every campus, every sunday. Erwin Mcmanus at Mosaic does the same. other church plants have similar strategies. they are still very much one church, united, bound by a common vision and group of leaders.
everyone hates the rockstar-pastor because it supposedly takes away from jesus. i tend to agree. but for whatever moral failures a rockstar-pastor may encounter, a vf site does not amplify the potential fallout. vf-sites actually don’t focus on the “rockstar-pastor” as much as you’d think, because the community obviously isn’t there to meet him and ask for his Twitter. 😉 it’s more about the immediate body.
i’m anti-mega church/rockstar-pastor as anybody. but get this: MH trains and equips hundreds of pastors every year. hundreds, every year. i am a part of their Acts29 church planting network down here in los angeles (no, we don’t stream MD). MH/Acts29 is doing great things for the kingdom, pastors are being called and trained, people are getting saved. the “baton” is being “passed” to hundreds, and more and more churches are being planted all the time. i say this because people (myself included) tend to create a false dichotomy between “rockstar mega-church” and “jesus’ way of doing things”. i don’t think that’s fair.
to get back on “topic”, the general tone of this comment thread reminds me of numerous convos i’ve had in the past about the church and technology. don’t you all remember that the Internet was “bad” at one time? if you would have mentioned 15 years ago that millions would listen to their favorite pastors via web, podcast, blog and social network…i think you’d get the same response as we have here. i remember when even Powerpoint slides were taking away from the “worship experience”. and why should a church spend so much energy on a “website” — people should be witnessed to, not advertised to. and don’t you dare communicate via email when it comes to “spiritual matters” — the Holy Spirit works best in person. blah.
you know people seeking Jesus in other countries are not as hesitant when it comes to incorporating technology into the church. the first real vf-site i’ve heard of was in Africa. i used to volunteer for the Salvation Army. we used to press DVDs to send to house churches oversees because they enjoyed gathering and watching sermons together.
if Quest had a vf site in la, i’d probably go. i love PE’s sermons. i vibe with Quests’ vision. it would be cool to grow the community down here. there’s nothing wrong with that.
I love your comment. You’re right, there is a very good argument to be made for the video feed ministry. I think you’ve convinced me that the format can be used well 🙂
@d: love your comment. great questions and pushback on the post and comments.
The old Rolland Allen’s book “St. Paul’s missionary methods or ours” challenges this monolithic, build it to the heavens Babel like, methodization. Paul left after at the most a few years…following it appears, in the “way” of Jesus. Paul told his young church planters to follow his example in “words and ways”. We can choose to follow as disciples of the apostles or choose not to.
I’m clallenged by their “ways” which often seem to cross my natural desires both for legacy, comfort, personal security and self worship. Jesus refused “kingship” even when everyone wanted it. He espoused hiding, leaving, mobility, silence, empowering others, smallness, a few. He even called his work “little flock”. I’m a fan and reader of Driscoll, none of this is said from a place of disdain for the man…just a place of concern for the methods. I’m not a house plant/simple church guy either.