Thursday, June 5, 2014

Do Video Sermons at Multi-Site Churches Work Against Mission?


Hey part-timers, the latest post from David Fitch about video sermons caught my attention and I would love to hear your thoughts. In the article Fitch offers three reasons why multi-site churches that pipe in a common sermon actually works against being churches being missional. What does missional mean? David Fitch writes:
Now I define the Missional church as the church mobilized for incarnational (as opposed to attractional) ministry occupying the place of Christ’s humble servant presence in a locale (as opposed to a place of coercion and presumption) whereby we live (visibly) an entire way of life that witnesses to the salvation of God (His Kingdom) birthed in the person and work of Jesus Christ. It is natural, it is concrete, and it is above all local. In this witness, people are invited out of their lostness into a vital relationship with the Triune God and all He is doing to make the world right through Jesus Christ.
Fitch argues that piping in a sermon to various campuses works against core missional principles in three ways:
1. In the missional context - Preaching is always local.
2. In the missional context: - Preaching always demands a response.
3. In the missional context: - Preaching is always better when we know the person

All three of these contexts are limited by video sermons that are usually viewed by large congregations. Fitch claims that video sermons turn what should be a small community of people being immediately challenged to live into the gospel by someone they personally know into a large group of individual people just taking notes on how they can personally make their lives better through the gospel.

Over the last few years, I've had the privilege of attending a popular local mutli-site church that uses the video sermon format. I'm not ready to comment yet on how I feel about it, but I do find that Fitch's critique has some credit. My initial sympathy is that Fitch is correct, but that his critique can probably be aimed not just at video sermons, but more broadly at churches whose sermons refuse to be local, demand a response, and are preached by unapproachable pastors.

What do you think about Fitch's article? Have you attended a multi-site church that uses video sermons? Have you found that the format limits the church in the way's Fitch suggests? I'd love to hear what you think in the comments below.

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