Recently, one of my favorite sparring partners (and hopefully someday a beer-summit buddy) Geoff Surratt made some startling admissions of his own about Video Venues.
"Will video teaching have unintended consequences? Yes. Can video teaching be used to inflate already over-inflated egos? Yes. Can video teaching lead to a lack of development of preachers? Yes. These, however, are not medium questions, these are leadership questions. An effective leader does not hesitate at the gates of hell to study all of the possible contingencies before making a move. An effective leader will follow Paul's example and "use all means that I might save some."
In a way, I think this captures THE main argument for Video Venues- the pragmatism of "decisions." In spite of what the unintended consequences might be to the Church at large or even the local community taught primarily by video, despite the complete surrender VV's represent to the Church Celebrity mentality and the over-valuing of "gifted" communicators who do not do what a shepherd should see as his/her primary role- the teaching of life in the way of Jesus by example, living among and alongside those being taught, despite the fact that VV's invalidate the equipping ministry of the Church by rendering moot the need for more elders who will lovingly apply Scripture to the life of local communities... as long as people continue to raise their hands and fill out those cards at the end of the message, it's worth it.
In a sense, it's like pitting support for healthy births against support for good nutrition, education and health care. We need both- and to me, the Video Venue, despite the protestations of Campus Pastors and Video Venue proponents all across the nation, fails to get at a fully-functioning NT community- one taught primarily by elders who are equipping/raising up the next generation of apostles, prophets, evangelists, shepherds and, yes... teachers. (Eph 4)
To answer another question posed by Geoff in his blog post: Would Paul have spoken by video to Corinth? Undoubtedly!
Would he have done so week in and week out, effectively replacing the teaching ministry of their local elders? Not a chance. (BTW- read the earliest descriptions of Christian gatherings- they say that what happened was a reading of the apostles words followed by an exposition by a local elder)
The Video Venue Model assumes that what can be done technologically and even probably should be done occasionally stands up as a model for the main teaching ministry of the church- I'm saying it doesn't.
And this is why it's a biblical issue! Paul directed the churches he planted to appoint elders- elders who had a qualification of "able to teach." Video Venues are (in my opinion) bad ecclesiology- and while some are searching the Scriptures in vain for where God forbids them, what I am saying is not that they are forbidden, but that they fail to get to what is prescribed- local leadership, and the gifts of more and more people (in this case teachers) being utilized and developed.
Geoff's assertion is that "An effective leader will follow Paul's example and 'use all means that I might save some.'"
Actually, I believe an effective leader will be smart enough not to trade short-term gain for long-term health. It's a medium/message question in that it communicates something very serious about who can teach, and what leadership means/looks like in the local community. If video venue teaching will, by your own admission, have unintended consequences, inflate egos and stifle development of others, it IS a message issue (those are pretty serious things to "say" with your model). Maybe there are EQUALLY EFFECTIVE ways of "making a move" that will see the same numbers of people reached with the gospel and yet NOT rebound to the longer term harm of the church.
So, in light of Geoff's admission, I'd like to make a little admission of my own: Video Venues are probably a great improvement in the area of building community. You heard me right.
So why make this admission now? Because Church Relevance is running a series on video teaching, I think in conjunction with the launch of VideoTeaching.com (quick response: tip o' the hat for providing all that teaching for free! Wag of the finger for continuing to insist it's a viable model to build worship services around video messages people can watch for free on the internet- if you WANT to see Driscoll teach, download the Vodcast and then go be with your own community that is taught by someone who at least knows something about you). The first post of the series on Church Relevance attacks the "Myth" that Video Teaching kills community.
Well, who said it did? No problem there! In general, I agree- I never said I didn't think VV's help in some ways.