At thousands of multi-site churches around the world the message is played via video instead of being provided live and in person. This has been a source of many questions from the investment to make it as life-like and “live” as possible to questions from individuals wondering what the experience will be like. Overwhelmingly the most frequent concern from individuals considering a video message or location relates to something like “Why would I come watch a video message when I can watch a message from home? I’d prefer it to be live and in person”. Here are my responses:
Church is a collective “us” and a individual “you” – If you define your church experience by who is teaching, how they are teaching or if it video vs. live then your definition of church might be misguided. Church isn’t a building, it’s not a speaker, it’s not the lead pastor or the teaching team. Church is YOU and US. We need your gifts to be awakened and used in the kingdom as much as you need great teaching on Jesus Christ. Consider the letters that the apostle Paul wrote churches that desperately want to hear the message of Christ and longed to have Paul visit but never saw him. They relied on stories passed on between believers. They relied on letters to be read in front of groups from Paul for encouragement. I’m certain that there were comments that people would rather see Paul live than just get a letter from him, but by all accounts those letters made an huge impact in the community. (Romans 1:13)
Community is difficult to participate in from your living room – Part of getting together in a larger community is to share together our gifts, our concerns and to be built up together. While I love to hear great speakers and only have access to them via the Internet and watch them from the comfort of my own home I can also state that it is impossible to enjoy the benefits of “community” from my couch. Hebrews 10:24-25 encourages us “Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.”
Leaders are born in video locations – I usually reserve this statement for individuals who have an option to go to the live teaching or visit a video location. A large church can enable and empower incredible leaders. Teams are put together to provide worship, hospitality, cleaning and maintenance. While large churches desire everyone to be involved and ignite their gifts, what we have found is providing video locations provides a MULTIPLICATION effect that allows even more people to get engaged in the kingdom with their gifts. When we started our three video locations our entire worship team tripled. The amount of individuals in groups and participating substantially increased. Individuals who were desiring to be engaged in the kingdom but were not in the large church context blossomed and started to lead in dramatic ways at smaller video locations.
Video locations are likely not for everyone, but the impact is undeniable. Paul in the early days of Christianity likely had to deal with many of the same frustrations about not being able to be everywhere preaching and teaching live, but the power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is alive today through many different delivery methods. From live teaching to video teaching and beyond.