Friday, April 15, 2011

Why is Grace Launching a Second Campus? Part 6

Why video preaching??  I have been posting some thoughts on why Grace is launching a second campus in Harborcreek this Easter.  This is the 6th and final post in the series. Today's post has to do with one of the more progressive decisions that we made about this new campus.  We will do the majority of our preaching through the use of video.  Everything else in the service will be live - we have a full band that will lead in musical worship each week, and service hosts who will welcome people, and a designated campus pastor who will provide leadership, counseling, and supplemental teaching to that congregation.  It will be a live (and lively) worship gathering - and when it comes time for the sermon it will be via video on a large screen.  So I want to answer a series of questions today that flow from the larger question:

Why Use Sermons on Video?  

Isn't video impersonal?
Attending church at one of our campuses will be a very personal experience.  Ushers and greeters will greet personally, our campus pastor (Pastor Mike Watson) and worship leaders will personalize every aspect of the service, and the video sermon will just be another resource that they will use to bring the gospel to every person who walks through the doors. But it's true that video can feel impersonal.  We've tried to counteract that by the way we do video.  I think it allows for the most personalized of all video approaches.  We pre-record the sermon video earlier in the week specifically for our campuses.  I much prefer this method over just recording one of our other services where there are people in the room, because it allows us to personalize the message to the people who are watching via video and to look right at the camera the whole time.  The people watching the video don't feel like they're just overhearing us as I talk to somebody else, but we're talking directly to them.   

Why come watch a screen when I could watch church on TV from my couch?
This question is based on a grossly underdeveloped view of what church is supposed to be.  If someone thinks that the sum total, the sole purpose, of going to church is listening to a 30 minute sermon then Grace is probably not the church for them... we set the bar much higher than that.  The truth is, you can't live in deep community with others on your couch, you can't utilize your God-given spiritual gifts on your couch, you can't participate in life-giving worship on your couch, you can't serve the community with other believers on your couch.  Church is so much more than a sermon!  When we invite people to church we are inviting them into Biblical community and to be part of the great cause of Christ in our generation. The sermon is just one very small component of that experience. If you come to Grace you won't stay a spectator for long - the stakes are too high!

How can you possibly address specific needs of a congregation via video?
This will be an ongoing responsibility of our campus pastor.  He will still be a prophetic voice in his congregation. If there are specific needs that must be addressed in his congregation, he will have the freedom to address them in a variety of ways.  
  • There will be mini-teaching moments in each service in which he can address particular topics.  
  • He will have freedom to stand up after each video sermon and help the congregation to process through the application of each message.  
  • Each campus pastor will be part of our preaching planning team and so the needs of each location will be taken into account as we plan series. 
  • He will have regular opportunities to preach live at his location at which time he can craft and nuance the message to the specific needs of his congregation.  
However, all that being said, truth is truth.  The Word of God is the Word of God.  There is a little nuancing that needs to happen based on congregations - but if I write a sermon based on the Bible I could generally take that message and deliver it in Erie, Warren, Pittsburgh, Los Angeles, Haiti, etc. And the Word of God remains constant and true. It reminds me of a passage in 1 Corinthians 10:13 that says, "no temptation has seized you except what is common to man."  There is a commonality to our experience in this life that the word of God addresses with amazing accuracy.

Aren't you just jumping on the bandwagon and trying every new fangled idea?
We definitely want to utilize all available technology for the advancement of the gospel.  Throughout history, the church has leveraged available technology for this purpose.  The invention of the printing press dramatically affected the Reformation by getting the Bible into the hands of individuals.  The Apostle Paul utilized the latest available technology, letter writing, messengers, and circular letters to advance the gospel.  These circular letters were teachings and admonitions that were intended for multiple different churches (similar to our video teaching).  One church would read the letter and then it would be sent on to the next church in the region. I'm convinced that if Paul had access to video technology he would have used it to the hilt!  If the early church had said, “we’re not going to listen to Paul through his letters, he has to be here in person,” the church would be in a whole different place. 

Isn't this just about Grace or about Derek trying to build an empire?  
This gets a little chuckle out of me because I shudder to think of how pathetic and insignificant a 'Grace Church empire' or a 'Derek Sanford empire' would be compared to the actual Kingdom of God being advanced!  This one is a simple 'no.'  Our goal with this initiative is to reach more people with the gospel - and we believe to the bottom of our souls that this is the best way to do it.  It's important to note that we will still be using a team preaching approach.  So some weeks I will be on screen but other weeks it will be Brian, Mike, Al and others. This isn't about building an empire around one personality, but simply using the technology available to us to reach more people. 

Some benefits of video preaching:

  • Unity –it’s important to us that there be a unified preaching voice at Grace.  Nothing will hold us together like the unified proclamation of the word of God. We will be in the same sermon series most of the time, studying the same scriptures and having conversations around the same truths from God's word. This is one of the ways that our church in multiple locations can stay connected with one another. 
  • Wisest use of the Campus Pastor's time and energies - video preaching allows the campus Pastor to focus more time and energy on pastoring and leading his new congregation. We want to utilize our Pastors to their full ministry capacity.  The average sermon takes 15-20 hours to study, write, and deliver. So, to have 2 different pastors duplicating efforts each week in sermon preparation isn't the best use of our resources.  There is too much ministry to be done for us to be duplicating efforts.
  • Supporting resources - Having all campuses receiving the same sermon content allows us to write excellent materials (small group studies and individual studies) based on that sermon that can then be utilized at all campuses. You can check out some samples of these supporting materials here.  If we had different sermons going on at all of our locations it would be too difficult to keep up with quality support resources.
  • Clarity - We currently use video preaching in our Commons Service at our Grace McKean campus and one of the positive responses we have gotten is the ability to see facial expressions and emotion on the screen that you can't see when it's live and in a larger room.  Studies show that over 63% of communication is non-verbal (hands, eyebrows, facial expressions).  So the larger image allows the person watching to pick up on some of those communication cues that they would miss in the larger room.   
    We are excited about this initiative. We believe with our whole hearts that this is what God is calling us to do.  On Easter Sunday 2011 - the adventure begins.

    1 comment:

    Paul said...

    Amen Derek... I have reviewed this a couple times now and hope to be able to effectively explain Grace's vision to others through it.

    "On Easter Sunday 2011 - the adventure begins."
    Your so right...