Beware of despising preaching...

(Tim) This forwarded by Jeff Moore:

Let us beware of despising preaching. In every age of the Church, it has been God’s principal instrument for the awakening of sinners and the edifying of saints. The days when there has been little or no preaching have been days when there has been little or no good done in the Church. Let us hear sermons in a prayerful and reverent frame of mind, and remember that they are the principal engines which Christ Himself employed when He was upon earth. Not least, let us pray daily for a continual supply of faithful preachers or God’s Word. According to the state of the pulpit will always be the state of a congregation and of a Church. (J. C. Ryle)

Multi-site churches where the preaching of God's Word in Lord's Day corporate worship is replaced by a video facsimile of a man preaching God's Word someplace else is not the preaching of God's Word...

Lacking one of the marks of the Church, these multi-site churches are no churches at all.

Comments

Wow, really?

I'm with you that individual congregations (or campuses or sites or whatever nomenclature one uses) should have a man physically in the pulpit. I'm with you. Even in churches that use the video-preaching-with-campus-pastors-present model, there's something deficient.

But "not the preaching of God's Word"? "No churches at all"? I'm really hesitant to take it that far.

>But "not the preaching of God's Word"?

I think if you bear in mind that preaching is not simply the teaching of material the congregation needs to learn. It is the application of the Living Word to a specific people. That's why "distance learning" doesn't fit the bill.

>No churches at all

Well at any rate they don't have the marks of the church, as recognized by the reformers, when they go video pastor.

> It is the application of the Living Word to a specific people.

Again, perhaps I'm missing something. (Keep in mind... I'm not in favor of video venues.) But, what do you mean by this phrase? When I read it, it seems as if you're implying that the Living Word can only be applied to a specific people if a man is preaching it live-and-in-person. I'm certain that neither you nor the Baylys nor most readers of this blog really believe that, so again... I don't get the declaration this it is expressly NOT preaching.

A couple of example I can think of . . . Mars Hill Church in Seattle and The Village Church in the Dallas-Ft. Worth metroplex. Both multi-site. Both use video. The preaching pastors of both (with the help of campus pastors) gauge the needs of the congregation (gathered at all sites) and prayerfully figure out what to preach to best minister to all gathered. The Living Word (through preaching - live or not - and through the care of the campus pastors) is applied to a specific people across all sites.

I can't reiterate enough that I do not believe that video venues are optimal and that churches that do multi-site either need to treat their sites like distinct congregations (with live preaching at all), or just plant churches. All I'm saying is that the preaching of God's Word isn't necessarily bound up in having a man in person to do it. (Never thought I'd write that.)

>I'm certain that neither you nor the Baylys nor most readers of this blog really believe that

Will Rogers once said "it isn't what folks don't know, it's what they know that isn't so."

A question worth discussing is whether the Sacraments can be distributed and received virtually and be the Sacraments?

Of course, the answer is "no," and were this the method at a particular non-church, it would be no true church.

I believe it's the same with preaching. Flesh and blood preacher and presence and congregation are necessary for it to be true preaching.

So, if the marks of the Church are absent, is it a church, or simply a deficient church? This is why I say that a church that practices video facsimile preaching on Lord's Day mornings is no true church.

Am I crazy?

Love,

It would be interesting to see what percentage of churches that embrace video pastors actually properly administer the sacraments.

Paul and the apostles wrote letters and were not physically present at the churches.

I assume there were other physically present pastors, but he was still considered a pastor to them, right? And while he knew it was better to be physically present, the fact that he couldn't obviously did not mean that his letters were not the Word of God! :)

Yet Paul desired earnestly to be physically present. Bonhoeffer addresses this in the context of Christian fellowship, writing that it is better to be in physical fellowship, but that the lack thereof when does not mean one is not a true Christian. This is because physical fellowship is a gift of God's grace - and we take it for granted.

I suppose the question is: Can we apply this in the same way to the office of the pastor? I would have said yes, until I read Tim's point about the distribution of the Sacraments. Now I'm not sure. However, I think that in the instance that it is not possible to have a pastor present - for example, underground Christian communities in hostile environments for long periods of time - since the sacraments do not derive there meaning or power from the pastor, but from God, that any Christian could administer them.

from Bonhoeffer's Life Together:

"The physical presence of other Christians is a source of incomparable joy and strength to the believer. Longingly, the imprisoned apostle Paul calls his "dearly beloved son in the faith," Timothy, to come to him in prison in the last days of his life; he would see him again and have him near. Paul had not forgotten the tears Timothy shed when last they parted (II Tim. 1:4). Remembering the congregation in Thessalonica, Paul prays "night and day...exceedingly that we might see your face" (I Thess. 3:10). The aged John knows that his joy will not be full until he can come to his own people and speak face to face instead of writing with ink (II John 12).

"The believer feels no shame, as though he were still living too much in the flesh, when he yearns for the physical presence of other Christians. Man was created a body, the Son of God appeared on earth in the body, he was raised in the body, in the sacrament the believer receives the Lord Christ in the body, and the resurrection of the dead will bring about the perfected fellowship of God's spiritual-physical creatures. The believer therefore laudes the Creator, the Redeemer, God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, for the bodily presence of a brother...." pg 19-20

and...

"It is easily forgotten that the fellowship of Christian brethren is a gift of grace, a gift of the Kingdom of God that any day may be taken from us, that the time that still separates us from utter loneliness may be brief indeed..." pg. 20

>Paul and the apostles wrote letters and were not physically present at the churches.

Letters are a different form of communication from preaching. Video presentations can be useful in their place but their place in not in a worship service. If you believe what you wrote then presumably the reading of an epistle could take the place of the sermon. But the Reformed tradition has always made room for the reading of the Word as well as the preaching of the Word and does not confuse the two.

"A question worth discussing is whether the Sacraments can be distributed and received virtually and be the Sacraments?

Of course, the answer is "no," and were this the method at a particular non-church, it would be no true church."

Exactly - you beat me to it.

I think it's a "cult of personality" problem. Churches were never meant to be built around one leader - and if they are, then they are failing. Aren't the elders to be training up the young men, etc?

As a veteran of a "cult of personality" church, I've seen it first hand -- how the church body suffers when the personality leaves.

Kamilla

Hmmm. I attend a church where the pastor's preaching is streamed to a small congregation in a remote part of the same state; a congregation who hasn't been able to get a pastor to answer their call. So you're saying that they're not really hearing God's word being preached on Sunday morning? What about women who take their babies into a cry room that has a video feed from the sanctuary? Should they be denied the sacrament because they weren't in the actual room where the Word was being preached?

I'd agree re the sacraments but I think that's a bit of a red herring. You can't eat or get wet through a video uplink, but you can hear the Word preached.

I think Kamilla has put a finer point on the situation: most video churches like Piper's are done by video not out of necessity but out of a cult of personality; half the kids at Bethlehem Baptist wouldn't be in one of the satellites if a lesser light were preaching, and that's sad. But let's not tar all situations with too broad a brush. (Did I just mix metaphors there???)

> So you're saying that they're not really hearing God's word being preached on Sunday morning?

I'd say that they are not participating in proper corporate worship. It is a good argument for having church plants meet as bible studies till they can get a minister while they attend corporate worship elsewhere.

> So you're saying that they're not really hearing God's word being preached on Sunday morning?

I'd say that they are not participating in proper corporate worship. It is a good argument for having church plants meet as bible studies till they can get a minister while they attend corporate worship elsewhere.

Yeah, I'm still not there, folks. I'm in full agreement with the concerns over cults of personality, but again... I think that the "it's not preaching" claim goes to far.

The comparison with the sacraments is interesting, but here's where I think that it breaks down -- the sacraments are, by definition, communicated through the senses of taste and touch (and thus can't be done long-distance). Preaching is communicated through the sense of hearing and, thanks to technology, can.

It's still preaching.

"Too," not "to." Sheesh.

A few summers ago I approached Pastor Bayly about going up to Indy to hear a mega-church/multi-campus/radio pastor who was going to be preaching in town. He wasn't familiar with the pastor or his ministry, but warned me to watch out for men looking to make money. The pastor was a man I admired, and I was surprised by Pastor Bayly's response. I went home that night to look into the event further only to find out that it was basically a support-raising endeavor. The pastor was asking for money to expand his radio ministry into many other large cities across the U.S. and Canada. Then I asked myself, "Why isn't this pastor, who has a pastoral training program in his church, using his time, gifts, energy, and finances to plant churches in those towns? What good is a radio ministry compared to a local church? If he's truly committed to the preaching the word in other cities, does he deny that other men can fulfill this duty by God's grace and gifts or is he God's only spokesman? Does God not use the foolish things of the world, like your local Joe pastor, to shame the wise?" I don't think you can get around these questions when it comes to some of the "ministries" that these shep-rities (shepherd-celebrities) have?

What is more wicked is that my heart was given over to despising my local pastor's preaching since I found much more talented, clean preaching on the radio. But really, it profited me nothing and gave more room for transgression to flourish, like my critical attitude and arrogance. In fact, I would definitely argue there's a connection between the amount of audio/video resources we take in and the despising of our elders. Now, that's easy for me to say because of the church I'm in. Within a month of moving to Bloomington, I simply had no desire to listen to the things I lived off of in college. Why? God gave me shepherds. I could keep going... I'll stop.

>What about women who take their babies into a cry room that has a video feed from the sanctuary?

They are not engaging in corporate worship when they are in the cry room.

>Should they be denied the sacrament because they weren't in the actual room where the Word was being preached?

Should men be denied the sacrament if they leave to use the toilet?

Why don't we all just stay home and read Martyn Lloyd-Jones sermons? They're great.

It would save on gas. You could sit in your favorite chair. If you fell asleep it would be no problem. You would just sleep and then wake up and keep reading. You wouldn't have to worry about poor people coming into the congregation. You wouldn't have to worry about seeing the elder you're mad at. You can still fellowship on Facebook.

Let's take it to the next level.

>a small congregation in a remote part of the same state; a congregation who hasn't been able to get a pastor to answer their call.

Are you sure they cannot find a man to come or that they are just being unrealistic in their expectations and sure "the next candidate" will be better? As has been my experience with churches who "cannot find a Pastor".

Men, I don't think we've gotten at the real issues, yet. For instance, to look at this carefully, we must consider the difference between incidental and systematic practice. And, I must say, I've not yet read anything that causes me to want to backpedal on my premise that the church set up to have the Lord's Day corporate worship preaching of the Word done by video facsimile is no true church.

One aspect no one has addressed is whether preaching done by a man who doesn't shepherd the flock he's ministering to, in flesh and blood preasence, is truly preaching? Again, when done systematically, by intent. In other words, is it God's command that churches have a pastor? And if so, that the pastor shepherd his flock through preaching?

Sorry, but I have no time. Extremely busy. But I'd be interested in hearing your thoughts.

Love,

David,

First, up, I agree with the main thrust of the post - we should all be gathering together, face to face, for weekly worship whenever possible. I loathe metro preachers who use a multi-plex approach. However, that's not the same thing as a "video facsimile is not the preaching of God's word." Tim might have an argument for it not being a true church, but I'm not convinced it's not true preaching. I have a 3+ hour commute everyday, and often listen to sermons on an MP3 player or on the radio - is that not true preaching?

Benjamin - I don't know the details of the arrangement as it was in place prior to my attendance. I do know that it is a temporary situation until a pastor accepts a call. I also know that they've extended calls and have been rejected, most likely due to the fact that they're small and their region is depressed and not considered desirable by the MDF crowd.

Ken

"Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood." Acts 20:28

"Therefore, I exhort the elders among you, as {your} fellow elder and witness of the sufferings of Christ, and a partaker also of the glory that is to be revealed,shepherd the flock of God among you, exercising oversight not under compulsion, but voluntarily, according to {the will of} God; and not for sordid gain, but with eagerness;nor yet as lording it over those allotted to your charge, but proving to be examples to the flock." 1 Peter 5:1

These two passages of scripture are clear commands to have specific intentional Pastors, and preaching. The Holy Spirit makes the men the overseers and accountable based on the premise that Jesus purchased the Church with His blood. Also in the 1 Peter passage we see the display of authority from Peter to the other elders to charge them with shepherding the flock. Exercising oversight. These are clear commands of Pastoring and I would argue preaching. I'm sure there are other passages you can point too.

But in this instance if an Elder is charged to have intentional oversight over his congregation, then you have to discount video venues in what we know them to be today. Lets take Mark Driscoll for example. Gifted teacher, and has great character in many ways. God used him to reveal scripture to me, and teach me things that worked towards my salvation. I'm thankful for him in many ways. But in the case that he could pastor me from across the country, via online is ridiculous, much less from a video venue. How can a man who is geographically not even near me, excercise authority in rebuking me? Admonishing me? Exhorting me? or Encouraging me? Now I'm sure better succint arguments can be made from scripture and more thought out but I hope this gets to the start of things.

Does a father lead, love, encourage, rebuke, exhort, teach his children from a webcam chat across the country? In some cases he has to leave for work, to provide etc...but doesn't he build a home in one central location and we know the home, isn't just a building. Likewise doesn't a Pastor do these things within the church?

Now I'm sure those of you who know Church History can trace back to see why and how churches were planted, and up until the past hundred years or so always had localized specific congregations with Pastors. I don't know much church history, just the stuff I've read online or off wikipedia. I think the primary reason Driscoll uses video venue is a fan base. A couple of folks said it before, the cult of personality. We love to worship our super apostles, and our rockstars. Knowing Driscoll specific history as a communication major, the popular guy in high school, and class President makes it pretty clear where his deficiencies are being dealt with but rather promoted. But then again Spurgeon had preached to crowds of thousands. I also think that the putting off of Father-rule, and any kind of authority is another reason why we love disconnected, media driven video, and online streaming. It doesn't cause us to deal with sin within the body of believers. Just some thoughts.

David Wegener, I accept your challenge. The next level is that a proper sermon should adhere into the 140-character limit by which all communication of the future must fit.

I wouldn't go as far as Tim, but the other side to this whole thing is the "Why?" question. Why not plant another church? Is it not celebrity-ism to go multi-site with one particularly "effective" (which means popular) pastor?

Does it not say something of the weakness of a Christian that he can only profit from a mega-star, and not profit as much from a faithful, but less "gifted" brother?

So, it is not only a problem from the top (pastor) but a problem from the bottom (congregant), IMHO.

MIght there be exceptions? Sure. But the point about systemic practice is right.

What happens to a Bethlehem after Piper? Well, we have sad examples all around us of exactly what happens, which is also an argument against staying any one place too long, but I digress....

>>I wouldn't go as far as Tim

You may be right, but I'm not convinced it is a church--and I think the burden of proof is on those on the other side.

If the right preaching of the Word of God is one of the marks of the Church, what case may be made that video facsimiles of another man preaching at another place to another congregation, practiced systematically, is the right preaching of the Word of God?

Love,

> I'd agree re the sacraments but I think that's a bit of a red herring. You can't eat or get wet through a video uplink, but you can hear the Word preached.

The missing element here is not just the hearer hearing the word preached, but the pastor seeing those to whom he is preaching. When a man knows his flock he can learn much by looking them in the eye, reading body language, seeing who stomps out of the sanctuary, etc.

> The comparison with the sacraments is interesting, but here's where I think that it breaks down -- the sacraments are, by definition, communicated through the senses of taste and touch (and thus can't be done long-distance). Preaching is communicated through the sense of hearing and, thanks to technology, can.

The same applies here. The senses that we are leaving out are those of the pastor. Sure, this is lessened as the crowd increases but presumably there will be more elders dispersed through the crowd. Don't get the wrong idea; I don't mean big brother here, I mean loving, fatherly intimacy and care.

You've walked into a room and sensed tension or joy or sadness, right? I believe the Holy Spirit aids pastors in the same, but much enhanced manner, to know his flock. Therefore a pastor must be with his people. It is about the people sensing, but it is also about the pastor and the elders sensing.

David,

In the best examples I've seen of churches that use video (like the two I've cited above), each local site has pastor-elders tasked with the care of the people of that site. Again, not ideal, but let's not assume that the pastoral element has been removed.

Dear Rae,

That pastoral element is intrinsic to the right preaching of the Word of God in corporate worship. The congregation must sense that the pastor is speaking to them, personally, as the shepherd knows his sheep and the sheep know him and recognize his voice (to quote Someone).

You can't separate shepherding from the right preaching of the Word of God that is the mark of a true church.

Love,

...additionally, by just staying home, you could skip the collection plate.

David,

I agree that what you've described is desirable and should be the norm and should be every believer's typical expectation of a church. What I disagree with (am I quibbling?) is the idea that there has to be a live man interacting to a high degree with the hearers for there to be an instance of "biblical preaching." I'd like to think Tim's emphasis is ecclesiological not definition.

I go back to my comment about listening to record sermons - am I not hearing true preaching in those sermons? Let's say I had the opportunity to listen to a sermon entitled "In the Beginning was the word" delivered a month or so ago by a Godly man who's views I appreciate very much. Would listening to such a sermon necessarily mean I wasn't the recipient of biblical preaching? [Biblical meaning bible-based] If not, what is it? What's the point of posting them if it's not to allow people to hear good [if not preaching, what?]

It seems there needs to be a separation between the ecclesiological and technological in this discussion.

Regards,

Ken Patrick

David,

One more thought...was Paul preaching to the Corinthians in his letters? I ask that in the sense that I agree with your point about the pastor/speaker knowing his audience. As I imagine a local elder read these letters aloud to the assembly in Corinth, would I be stretching it to assume that the believers would have received the letter as preaching? If this scenario were preaching in some sense, the only difference between Paul's exhortations to the Corinthians and John Piper speaking to his someplace in Minneapolis satellite (whom he does know and where local elders would be present...)is a technological one.

[I don't necessarily like where I ended up with that scenario, because I think Piper's issue is a cult-of-personality one with the good baptists of Minneapolis, which as I've said, I heartily disapprove.]

Ken

> David,

>In the best examples I've seen of churches that use video (like the two I've cited above), each local site has pastor-elders tasked with the care of the people of that site. Again, not ideal, but let's not assume that the pastoral element has been removed.

The thing about us sinners is that we're really good at squirming out of the unpleasantness of facing our sin and being held accountable. We're much more comfortable not having the pastor, a person ordained by the Living God, stare us down.

What is the biblical model? - A preacher preaching to his people face to face. We should discipline ourselves to accept the fact that God is not taken by surprise by the advent of video. He has not changed, we have.

We should spend more time training pastors to preach to manageable numbers of people. It is after all the Holy Spirit who uses men to do His work. He also seems to like to use men who confound the world by their lack of pedigree and polish. That's partly because He will not share His glory with another, not even a pastor.

Ken,

As we know, the letter to the Corinthians is God's inspired word. That makes it unique in the way it has to be looked at when comparing it to John Piper, preachers on the radio or video today. They are using God’s word, but every word they say is not inspired. The time of the letters of Paul is absolutely unique.

The people received the letter to the Corinthians and it was read to them out loud, probably over and over. What about the other days? They had to have a pastor who was present and who would preach to them and pastor them. God used him, too; we just don’t know His name.

What you hear on the radio is biblical preaching in a certain sense, but the fullness of the Church cannot be experienced in a vacuum. The words may be good, but church is so much more than just the words. It is the surety of the application of those words, and the guiding and correcting hand of pastors and elders. The church is the Body of Christ on Earth. It is a supernatural mystery we won’t fully understand this side of heaven. We need to simply submit ourselves to the scriptures by faith. We are not to forsake the assembly of the saints, on both sides of the pulpit, nor explain away what this has always meant in the history of the church. We must humble ourselves and submit ourselves to the physical presence of the man in the pulpit. The pastor is the man ordained by God to preach to people. There may be 1001 reasons why they don’t think this man is qualified to speak and wield authority over them (in person), but the man is wielding the authority of the Living God.

Think about these analogies: Would you want to go to a concert where they just played a videotape of the band? Would you rather go to a place via the travel channel or actually go there?

I appreciate this blog greatly and have much respect for the people that comment. Most of the people on here are several decades and degrees out of my league but I have a few quick questions.

First, does video streaming live sermons automatically disqualify a congregation as a church or only when it is every week? I know I've heard Driscoll say they do video feeds part of the month and campus Pastors preach the rest (I think it's once a month if I remember.)

Second, is it the physical presence that's the issue or the fact that preaching should be to the people in front of you (i.e. familiarity of people's sins, tendencies, thought processes?)

If it's the latter, it doesn't seem far stretched then to say that we'd also have to discredit mega-churches of all types. Does John MacArthur for instance really preach to his thousands more directly than Driscoll his thousands just because they're in the same room? I can listen to either preach and be taught without being a part of either Church. I feel my sin exposed the same often, though neither one knew me personally or even knew I'd be listening.

It really opens up the discussion of whether a church of thousands can be shepherded well at all by only a few pastors I think. What is the cut-off point? It seems to me pastoral care may be one of the vary things that causes many of the churches to split into "campuses" to begin with. Of course if it were I'd say it makes more sense to just plant another Church and network with them through leadership, training, and oversight but be separate.

I for one haven't heard a sermon in quite some time where I was confused by something that was said because I wasn't in their midst (Pastor Bayly excluded.) In Cincinnati at least, I've found it hard to find churches where the people are preached to directly. Either I'm one of a thousand people listening to what could basically be a Bible 101 class or a self help sermon with no scripture whatsoever. Do these churches then qualify as churches?

Go easy...

> In fact, I would definitely argue
> there's a connection between the amount
> of audio/video resources we take in and
> the despising of our elders.

I was tempted to disagree with this, but I wanted to make a point to others who had the same gut reaction I did.

What Lane's statement represents is a *general* truth. A general truth doesn't have to be true 100% of the time in every conceivable situation to be generally true. Lane's statement is not universal.

What we have to realize, though, is that modern Christians are tempted to cast aside the local church for the flashier and hipper guy on the radio. That rips the guts out of the way the Lord designed His church to operate as an organic, loving family.

> Go easy...

Isn't that what has always led to the decline of the church?

> Go easy...

>Isn't that what has always led to the decline of the church?

David, I think Aaron just meant "take care" when he said, "Go easy." He wasn't saying that we should be undiscerning or theologically shallow.

Since when does “Go easy” mean “take care?” Must be a Cincinnati thing. I thought he meant, “Be gracious. I humbly submit these questions to you.” So here is my response.

Dear Aaron,

>>First, does video streaming live sermons automatically disqualify a congregation as a church or only when it is every week?

No. I do believe it is important to determine the purpose of a video ministry. If it is for satellite churches, then I like the Baylys have to ask if it is a church. To our shame there is a lack of leaders and pastors in our churches. Hence, churches are filled with women “pastors” and satellite churches are without pastors and look to video screens as shepherds, just like every other day. If a video ministry is for the elderly, missionaries or those who want to hear other sermons apart from the ones they hear in their own congregation, I believe this is a legitimate use of this medium.

>>Second, is it the physical presence that's the issue or the fact that preaching should be to the people in front of you (i.e. familiarity of people's sins, tendencies, thought processes?)

I think it is both. If a pastor is not physically there, how can he respond to the person slouching, sleeping, reading a book in the back row, crying, getting angry, rejoicing, shouting Amen, laughing, and so on? He can’t. Sermons may be scripted, but they can’t be scripted. Life does not work this way. Life responds to every moment in the moment. And, preaching needs to be to those people who are in front of you, with the knowledge of their sins, temptations, and all those things you mentioned.

>>Does John MacArthur for instance really preach to his thousands more directly than Driscoll his thousands just because they're in the same room?

Who can know? I think churches of these sizes can be very dangerous because of the great difficulty it is to care for a person’s soul. I believe at some point a line has to be drawn in regards to the size of a church appropriate to the number of leaders who are able to shepherd their souls.

>>In Cincinnati at least, I've found it hard to find churches where the people are preached to directly.

This is why we need to be raising up godly men who will preach with boldness, and we ALL need to take part in doing it. We are called to MAKE disciples, not give the Gospel and go on to the next person. Not giving a “paper/lecture” every Sunday to our congregations, but investing ourselves in the lives of our sheep, teaching all that the Bible commands. We need to be teachers. “For though by this time you ought to be teachers . . . ” myself included. (Heb. 5:12)

>>Either I'm one of a thousand people listening to what could basically be a Bible 101 class or a self help sermon with no scripture whatsoever. Do these churches then qualify as churches?

Or maybe, do these sermons actually qualify as sermons? I would not disqualify every church because of its sermons, but they are good indicators.

Love,

>“Since when does “Go easy” mean “take care?” Must be a Cincinnati thing. I thought he meant, “Be gracious. I humbly submit these questions to you.”

 

The idiom “Go easy” can mean to proceed with caution. This is especially true when it used as a salutation at the conclusion of a letter or message. I’m fairly sure that this usage has its roots in urban areas on the Eastern seaboard more so than Cincinnati. I've seen it used that way in short stories and television shows.

There's a ton that could be said but I doubt I could be clear enough to be of any real help to this conversation right now (lunch break.) I'll just say that at least in the two big ones mentioned (driscoll/piper) there are pastors present at each campus that do know the people there. Also, it's not uncommon for preachers now and of old to write their sermons and read them verbatim. Take Jonathan Edwards of old or our modern day multi service churches. I attended a church for several months that preached the exact same thing word for word 3 times in a row. I don't think that's the same thing but it looks similar, at least to me. I want to be clear though that I wouldn't encourage video preaching (to the congregation) and I agree idolatry certainly is a real danger with it. Piper has said that as well.

Go easy simply meant "I'm not a young punk who thinks he has it all figured out." I expect others to see what I'm not seeing and that's why I asked.

I'll never forget this paragraph from my friend Jake, after he read that Mars Hill was taking over one of the Acts 29 churches in Albuquerque, making it one of their remote campuses.

**************

So, you, the pastor, after eight frustrating years and only a meager 100-150 people showing up, hand over everything to Mars Hill and become Mars Hill staff. You gets a steady paycheck, Mars Hill swoops in and takes over HR--which among other things, I understand to mean that Driscoll now has the ability to fire and replace you as the campus pastor at his own discretion as he's done with other campus pastors at Mars Hill. Mars Hill manages your budget--which for you means you now have one--because they're obviously contextualized enough to know how to deal with their incarnation of their church in your city. Mars Hill manages your marketing, so you get a cool new flash page on the Mars Hill website. Driscoll becomes the preaching pastor, and really contextualizes the gospel for your community by pumping the sermons he preaches to MHC-Seattle to your church--yes, Albuquerque and Seattle, so very similar. But you're immediately a part of a mega-church infrastructure, so you feel like you're a part of something huge. You're not that good of a preacher anyway, and video-preaching has made it impossible for you to compete with the demand for a pulpit rock star.

**************

Thanks, Jake. I hope you don't mind.

Son Joseph sent me another comment for this thread--one he'd had rejected by the spam filter. Reading it, I've decided to place it on the main page as a post of its own.

People eager for good reformed preaching in Albuquerque would be listening to Randy Steele already.

> Go easy...

>Isn't that what has always led to the decline of the church?

>David, I think Aaron just meant "take care" when he said, "Go easy." He wasn't saying that we should be undiscerning or theologically shallow.

Mike, Aaron,

I know what he meant. I'm just trying to get us to look at the video preacher issue from the perspective of it being just another area where the distinctions are blurred and the edges are shaved off of biblical truth.

I'm also not trying to bust Aaron's chops at all.(I'm not sure if that's how it seems) I just want us to think about what "going easy" has gotten the church over the centuries and the corrective measures that are needed when things get out of hand (think Josiah).

I just read this quote on Mark Driscolls status update on his facebook page.

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