Canned preacher, live musicians...

Driscoll is a popular pastor in the Pacific Northwest. He heads a group of multisite churches that regularly draw 10,000 parishioners a week across 10 locations. He preaches live at one location, and his sermons are sent out by video to the other locations the following week, when the services are held with live music...

Driscoll said the sermon this week will be pre-taped, in part so he can attend a baseball tournament his son is playing in. The message, he said, comes from the Gospel of Luke and is about Zacchaeus, a crooked tax collector who found redemption...

If the preacher's a digital image, why "live music?"

A year ago, Taylor and I were at a large church in Evansville, Indiana, where the preacher only showed up for the later services and used video to feed the early service flock. During the sermon, the large digital image hanging from the ceiling in front of us asked those present to raise their hands if...

Most everyone enthusiastically raised his hand. Taylor and I looked around and began humming the theme from Twilight Zone.

By the way, they had a big grand piano on the platform and I noticed the keys moved even though no one was playing it. They did a video offering, too--which I kinda liked. There were a couple closeups that showed what rich men were pouring in.

At the end of the ritual, a real man got up and asked us all to vote on who we wanted to preach next month? He assured the older congregants that their own virtual pastor was happy to keep having his own image used, but if we'd prefer we could choose Charles Stanley or Alistair Begg or John Piper or Mark Driscol or Joel Osteen and he'd understand.

They asked us to cast our ballots and Taylor voted for his brother, Joseph.

I voted for Mary Lee--she's a looker.



Neil Postman is very helpful on this subject. He writes:

"Most Americans, including preachers, have difficulty accepting the truth, if they think about it at all, that not all forms of discourse can be converted from one medium to another. It is naive to suppose that something that has been expressed in one form can be expressed another without significantly changing its meaning, texture or value." Amusing Ourselves to Death, pg. 117

Ain't that the truth. Sermons cease to be sermons when the mode of delivery is changed. A video recording isn't a sermon just like a transcript isn't a sermon. The change in delivery reduces it from a sermon to something less than a sermon.

Postman, again, nails it:

"If the delivery is not the same, then the message, quite likely, is not the same. And if the context in which the message is experienced is altogether different from what it was in Jesus' time, we may assume that its social and psychological meaning is different, as well." pg. 118

Video venue churches lack the mark of a true church since they purposely deny a portion of the congregation the right preaching of the gospel. This is reason enough to reject them. We can't let our admiration for some good men to keep us from properly categorizing video venues as wholly unbiblical and the height of pastoral negligence.

I know this isn't Facebook, but I really "like" your last two lines.

Say what you want about sexuality, Tim, but I wonder if another HUGE area of compromise is the honoring of the Lord's Day as just that: HIS day, not ours. We reveal a great deal about the truthfulness of our mission statements which all say something like "worship is our highest priority" when we can't be bothered to say "no" to our sons when the Lord's worship conflicts with, um, a baseball game.

If a pastor with the influence of Driscoll (and the man does do many things well, for which I'm grateful...) says that 1) His Son "wins" over the flock on the one day per week that he's specially called to feed and care and 2) Driscoll has jettisoned the biblical view of the Lord's Day, whether "continental" or "Puritan" flavor then Reformed (biblical) piety and principles are not long for this world.

One of the problems with the Lord's Day is that with the decline of the blue laws Christians at the lower end of the ecnomic spectrum are finding it harder to gain employment without having to work on Sunday.

Where did you get that first bit about Driscoll? Sounds like a story from the Onion.

Dear Andy, click on the ellipsis. Love,


As a man that has struggled (and continues to struggle) to provide for his family, if I've learned only one thing it is that God is faithful.

We work not to earn our living, but because God commands it. Our provisions come from the Lord not from our own hand. This is a freedom.

We are free to honor God and his commands while he faithfully provides.

Last year, my wife was in her last trimester with our first child. She was going to quit her job when the time came in order to stay home with our child. My wife was producing 60-80% of our modest income, and we were living hand to mouth.

I had been looking for work for some time and now, desperate to find any steady income, I applied for a pizza delivery position. On the application I reserved Sunday and was free any other day of the week. I was initially hired then later denied employment because of my "Restricted availability." The GM said that there were other employees at the company that wanted and deserved Sunday off to watch NASCAR and football and I would have to work Sunday if I wanted the position. It was clear to him that I was reserving that day for worship and my availability was not of actual concern to the position. I was denied employment because I was a Christian and because I was attempting to honor God.

That was a year ago. I've held three jobs since and my daughter and wife have not gone without. In fact, it's clear to me that the position I currently hold was awarded me by God, and I hold no claim to winning it. I didn't apply for the position nor did I know anyone at the company.

Encourage your brethren to honor God and He will be faithful. God does not give us commands and fail to give us the ability to uphold them.

Psalm 65

Praise awaits you, our God, in Zion;
to you our vows will be fulfilled.
2 You who answer prayer,
to you all people will come.
3 When we were overwhelmed by sins,
you forgave our transgressions.
4 Blessed are those you choose
and bring near to live in your courts!
We are filled with the good things of your house,
of your holy temple.

5 You answer us with awesome and righteous deeds,
God our Savior,
the hope of all the ends of the earth
and of the farthest seas,
6 who formed the mountains by your power,
having armed yourself with strength,
7 who stilled the roaring of the seas,
the roaring of their waves,
and the turmoil of the nations.
8 The whole earth is filled with awe at your wonders;
where morning dawns, where evening fades,
you call forth songs of joy.

9 You care for the land and water it;
you enrich it abundantly.
The streams of God are filled with water
to provide the people with grain,
for so you have ordained it.
10 You drench its furrows and level its ridges;
you soften it with showers and bless its crops.
11 You crown the year with your bounty,
and your carts overflow with abundance.
12 The grasslands of the wilderness overflow;
the hills are clothed with gladness.
13 The meadows are covered with flocks
and the valleys are mantled with grain;
they shout for joy and sing.

The huge problem I see here is the preacher's view of himself. Driscoll laid into Mark Dever's refusal to do multi site churches by saying something to the effect "but, dude, think how many more people you could reach with YOUR GIFTS?" Such flattery...but what it means is, for Driscoll, it's much better for his image to preach to you than any mere mortal.

When a congregation can't be bothered to hear from another shepherd (necessitating a video), I discern a "superapostle" in the making; one who wants to hear his name finish off the phrase on everyone's lips: "I am of ..."

Better to cut your ministry down to size than become an indispensable pastor to 10,000 people. (Yes, I am glad for Mark Driscoll and his ministry. He is gifted; no question. But something's not right here.)

Cult of personality, perhaps?

It's the same root error that much of Evangelicalism suffers. Whether we call it seeker-sensitive or anything else, the leaders are not leading. They are catering to perceived needs and desires. I figure if you don't walk out of church mad enough at the pastor to spit nails, he's not doing his job. These men fear man's judgment more than they fear the Judge.

If you can't stand not to have your favorite motivational speaker up on the big screen, how in the world are you going to withstand genuine hardship. Here's a clue folks: having to wait for the remote parking shuttle is not hardship.

Apparently, Rev. Driscoll's son's team was playing for a "championship" and so the family decided to turn this opportunity into a "Father's Day Weekend" and this rendered him unavailable for participation in MHC's Lord's Day worship.

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