Thursday, February 09, 2006

Video Church

At X Baptist Church in Technology, Texas, the "minister of music" had for a number of years provided all musical accompaniment by tape recording, and all special music was pre-recorded in order to edit mistakes and provide necessary enhancement. The pulpit minister, inspired by his example, determined to record a sermon for the big screen to show while he was away on vacation. He eagerly returned the next Sunday, hoping all had gone well. To his surprise, the pews were empty. He walked down the aisle and found the pews filled with CD players. The auditorium's silence was soon broken by a chorus of electronic amens!

I recently read Ray Van Neste's Video Church and Brett Maragni's Franchising Church blogs, which raise some significant questions. Invention and advance in technology have revolutionized our world. We possess technology unknown to our Baptist forebears -- cars, planes, televisions, telephones, computers, satellites. Instant communication, knowledge of world events and rapid transit abound. Few have stepped forward to advise us concerning these advances. Many advocate embracing all that technology has to offer, and in any manner that it can be used. What is lawful and what is expedient?

Very few folks would object to the use of devices to record sermons for the home-bound. Most would probably object to assembling Sunday after Sunday just to hear a pre-recorded sermon. Where is the "happy medium"? What is lawful and what is expedient?

I would suggest that the following questions might be helpful:

1. Will it violate the scriptural concept of the gathered church?
2. Will it hinder or help worship?
3. Will it introduce an element we would otherwise reject (in a non-technological format)?
4. Does it meet standards of propriety?
5. Does it substitute for and exclude something that God commanded?
6. Will it change any element of actual worship?
7. Will it complicate our worship?
8. Will it cause division?
9. Would it be good if applied generally?


Anonymous said...

Just an observation. We do not have an organist and not likely to get one any year soon. The people agreed to using electronics (CD's) to play the organ. The music is fine, but it does seem contrived in my mind; just when you would like to sing a verse over again, you can't do it.

Personally, I am too old to make many changes in the sanctuary. I do give in, but I don't like it. I went to a church service that used overhead slides for hymns and I thought I was in the old picture follow the bouncing ball...There is nothing worse that hearing the pages turn whilst preaching, in my mind.

Then, I never liked pa systems in the sanctuary. I was taught how to preach and project my voice. On the other hand, I was all in favour of systems installed to help the hearing impaired.

Modern technology is a marvellous thing, but I think there are appropriate times and places for everything.

In Anglican circles, we have a Prayer Book for the services. The new Prayer Books would have us flipping all over the place to find the various readings and prayers. When I am taking the service, I have all these items printed in the order of service in the bulletin. It keeps the service flowing because one is not flipping pages in the Prayer Book.



Anonymous said...

Very interesting what you've stated, jim1927: There is nothing worse that hearing the pages turn whilst preaching, in my mind.

I'm assuming that you're referring to Bible pages being turned. Could this be the sound of hungry sheep being fed?

clinch64 said...

I think the real question must be, is it good to take modern technology with you everywhere you go, 24 hours a day? That's the way it has just about become. As common as it has become, I don't think i will ever get fully used to seeing someone talking on a cell phone in a store or other public building. Now I am sure it is becoming a problem in some churches. No doubt there are many benefits, but there is the danger of losing the presence of God with too many distractions. I think it is interesting to read in an article where more and more families are planning their vacations to go up to Amish country of Ohio and Pennsylvania. Coincedence?

Neil Vaught

R. L. Vaughn said...

Neil, interesting point I'd hadn't thought much about in this connection. Sometimes we just need to "get away and get with God alone" -- apart from all our modern technology. I've heard that cell phones are becoming distracting problems in some church services.

Ray Van Neste said...

Thanks for the plug. Your questions are useful as we do always need to think carefully through our methodologies, asking whther they detract from or contradict our theology. For too long people have said that methodology is neutral. Method may be flexible but it usually carries implications and assumptions which must be thought through carefully.

R. L. Vaughn said...

Ray, I'm in solid agreement with you there -- methodology is not neutral. We often are too quick to embrace anything new. I know it's that way where I work -- "let's do the next new thing." Too often the "implications and assumptions" are not thought through carefully. Certainly in the worship and service of God there ought to be sincere and careful thought and reflection!

Anonymous said...

At our new church here in Kingsville we have a recorded sermon. The church in Chorpus that started kingsville sent their people here so obviously they couldn't send they're pastor. As we get more of our people we do more on our own. They were initally sending the musicians also but now we have our own. I assume we will at some point find our own pastor.

The video message doesn't bother me because I get a lot out of the messages. I've been to a lot of the other churches here and heard live messages and not gotten anything out of it.

I think the church in Chorpus sees it as an easy way to reach the communities around them using the technology that we have.