Mega-Mega Church Thing (shoutin’ tithing, tithing, tithing, tithing…)*

A recent trend in the US is for multi-site churches to use video to present the senior pastor’s sermon to the church branches where he/she is not present. Teddy provided a link to The Fellowship Church in Dallas, Texas, where Ps Ed Young beams his sermons by video to presumably 4 of the 5 churches in his multi-site group. Another church mentioned beams its service to 13 locations. From memory, Steve Penny’s church in Brisbane beams his services out to its branches as well. A quote from the article:

Geoff Surratt, author of “The Multi-site Church Revolution,” said at least 3,000 churches nationwide use some variation of high-def video to spread their pastor’s Sunday morning sermons.
Some broadcast hologram images of pastors that float suspended in the air behind the pulpit, while others project images of ministers on large video screens. Some sermons are broadcast live, while others are pre-recorded.

Read the original.

Many congregants seem very happy with the arrangement. Their churches still have pastoral staff, and it is only the preaching that is beamed in. It does raise some questions about the nature of church. In a way, its kind of shocking – I’ve always seen the role of church leader as one that assumes a connection with the congregation, but this seems very disconnected. But it might not necessarily be a bad thing, just a relatively new thing.

  • How important is it that a church has its own, home grown preaching?
  • Is there any point turning up at a building to hear a video preach, compared to watching it on TV with a bunch of friends at home?
  • Is this a way of keeping multi-site churches all conforming to the same vision or theology?
  • If a church has become a business or brand, and a pastor a celebrity, is this good for that business?
  • Does this kind of thing free pastors up to do more one to one work, if they don’t have to prepare a big preach every week?
  • What sort of impact will this kind of thing have on the future of church – we thought the megachurches were big, but multi-site churches are surely even bigger!
  • Given that the concept of everyone contributing something when we gather together has been lost already, in most large services, is this really much different from what already happens in many churches?


    * Title reference: Born Slippy by Underworld, From Trainspotting. 3 minutes in. Nostalgia for some of us!

    5 thoughts on “Mega-Mega Church Thing (shoutin’ tithing, tithing, tithing, tithing…)*

    1. I think having pastor’s hologram displayed in order to give a service is a bit much. I think the new advances that churches are using are great, but this is taking it to a whole other level. Church video screens should be used appropriately. The one thing that makes me not like this idea is that why should one pastor be the only one to give the sermon when there are obviously more churches than he can handle going to. We should be creating new leaders within our communities and then let them have the opportunity to learn from this one pastor who is so good he has to be in every church. Give more people an opportunity and use the video screens for the one pastor to give a video message or greeting, but not a hologram for the whole service.

    2. It makes sense to use video screens in a megachurch so that everyone can see the preacher, and it can definitely make a presentation more visually exciting.

      I agree, Marie – it does raise the question of why there can’t be new leaders coming from within that congregation. When they are that large, there simply must be some very talented people who could be trained to serve their individual congregations in that way rather than depend on a pastor so far away.

      It remindes me of micromanagement in business, where the boss won’t trust his team enough to let them have the freedom to do their jobs. It looks as though, where it happens on a regular basis, it might be a way of maintaining complete control over the direction of all congregations, rather than allowing them to build greater autonomy even under the umbrella of the organisational head.

    3. It is actually – intentionally or otherwise – a way of centralising control.

      George Orwell would have loved it.

      To me it further diminishes and devalues the core notion of local community seeking to be Spirit lead.

      Makes me wonder to what extent pastors going down this sort of track are setting themselves up – again who knows whether intentionally or not – as defacto rivals to the Holy Spirit. Very hard to question an image.

      On the other hand I suppose it could be argued it is much harder to maintain a human connection as well where not only is the medium one way – preaching, but also the image is as well.

      Apart from any intentions which can be read into these things at will, the real issue is the unintentional outcomes.

      The intentional can often be ‘outed’ and dealt with, but I think the unintentional and unforeseen is often much harder to unwind.

    4. I agree with the comments.

      I think the accusation that the Senior Pastor seeks to control and at the same time prevents others from establishing and exercising gifting in the area of preaching and teaching is not exclusive to mega-churches.

    5. I think you are right, Bull. Things are maybe heightened in megachurches, but human nature is the same everywhere. I guess we can see here the instinct to rule and control, rather than to trust God by committing congregations into His hands and an unwillingness to recognise the gifts that he must have provided within a body of Christians. Ruling and controlling others can happen just as easily in a smaller environment. Politics re giftings can also occur anywhere.

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