I said here that video venues threatened the gift of preaching.
And I still mean it- more and more people watching a screen, means fewer and fewer people engaging in the art of teaching a congregation with regularity- communities that once had (or would have had) a teaching team soon will have a campus pastor who gets to preach maybe 12 times a year... and a DVD.
Remember- one of the main apologies of those taking this route is that there just aren't enough talented teachers to go around. But the video venue, practically speaking, means fewer people with the real, hard experience of teaching a community week in and week out- what is certainly a gift of the Spirit, but also a learned skill that takes time to "master."
And so the cycle perpetuates itself- fewer men and women with the chops to speak to crowds who increasingly expect polished oratory and high production values means more and more will look to the video venue to fill the gaps, thus creating a self perpetuating cycle. And what was meant to extend the gift of preaching now begins to kill it.
But as I said in my last post on this: It doesn't have to be that way, if the Church will just pay it's taxes. Or maybe another way to put this is: When we hear a heart-stirring or life-changing message, we like to thank the one who brought it. Maybe we should thank the ones who listened to/sat through all the less-than-heart-stirring, sometimes mediocre messages that person had to preach as they were learning how to use the gift God had given them without putting a congregation to sleep.
Evergreen has a team of 7 elders (soon to be six as Chip heads to Denver to be the teaching pastor @ TNL) and all of whom are, in the words of Paul, "able to teach." While Dustin and I share the bulk of teaching at our two sites, all the other elders are in regular rotation, teaching our community, sharing their insight, perspective and unique voices with the community. And growing in their teaching skills, even as I am, and as Dustin is.
I don't claim to be a master preacher by any stretch- but I can do it. And the way I learned is by doing it. You learn to lead small groups by watching others do it and then doing it yourself, you learn to lead others in worship by watching others do it and then doing it yourself, and you learn to teach the community, to walk through passages of Scripture, teasing out what God was saying to them and what He's saying to us by watching others do it and then doing it yourself. And really, that's the only way.
So- while we expect a certain level of facility with leading worship, with teaching, with leading a group or serving in some other way in the community we also recognize: We are ALL engaging in on the job training.
And the community that, for instance, pays the tax of listening to a slightly less coherent message, or one with a less-than-Rob-Bell-mind-blow factor, or slightly less entertaining/engaging than Mr Driscoll, is making an investment.
They invest in the teacher they are being taught by. By engaging, listening, giving good feedback (both encouraging and constructive) they help that elder they love, that elder who loves them and is doing his or her best to explore God's Word with them, to learn how to do it better and better.
And in so doing they invest in the future. The future not just of that elder, not just of their community, but of the Church as a whole as we all benefit by more and more people exercising their gifts, gaining mastery in how to do what God has gifted and called them to do.
To me, video venues are at their heart, miserly. They are a symptom of a church who refuses to pay the community tax and invest in the future. They (along with mega churches and even personality-based smaller churches) try to parlay the gift of one or two people into something bigger and bigger, and like short-sighted Americans driving bigger and bigger Hummers say: Who cares about the consequences to future generations? I got mine.
Please understand: I recognize that the vast majority of those engaged in video venues have, at their core, a passion for seeing people come to know, love, and follow Jesus. I get that. And I even get that God uses the silliest of methods to bring people to Him. I'll bet I could even find someone who has been saved through the Evangecube.
But just because God honors our silly methods occasionally doesn't mean we shouldn't look for better ways, perhaps less silly, perhaps ones with fewer unintended consequences.