The Video Teaching Church Model Does Not Kill Community

Kent Shaffer —  July 23, 2009

To continue our discussion about why is the next big church model, let’s take a look at what the video teaching church model is not.

It is not sermons on TV.
It is not a sermon vodcast.
It is not online archived sermon videos.

These forms of “preaching” have no community aspect, but the video teaching church model has pastors and/or elders and fellow believers to help you grow and keep you accountable. A church model is more than just Christian content.

Obviously, some people might replace attending church with watching directly, but those same people may just as likely replace attending church with Christian television, podcasts, the Bible, a C.S. Lewis book, or even nothing at all.

We do need to cautiously ask questions before we dive into a new way of doing church. Video teaching is not for every church’s calling. To help us ask better questions, let us resolve one myth.

MYTH – Video teaching replaces human interaction.

Truth: The DNA of a church determines the quality of its community. While having an in-the-flesh preacher is one of hundreds of factors that can make a church more likely to have strong community, it is no guarantee.

Standard Church: Not every church with a live in-the-flesh preacher has good community. In fact, some preachers rarely interact with their congregations. And some preachers that do more harm than good when they interact with their congregation. Having an in-the-flesh preacher does guarantee a strong, healthy community. Unfortunately, some of the loneliest places are churches (particularly megachurches) without a culture of relationships.

Video Teaching: Just because a church uses video teaching does not mean that church can’t have incredibly relational pastors and elders that engage, counsel, and lead the congregation outside of teaching. A video teaching church is just as capable of a standard church in having good small groups and a culture of community.

Kent Shaffer

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I live in an RV with my wife and 2 kids and work with to help Christians collaborate and build a global Church library of free, open content.

15 responses to The Video Teaching Church Model Does Not Kill Community

  1. This is a good point!

    Just having a real live head talking at you does not produce more community than a video talking at you – hence video teaching is a logical extension of what most churches are like now. Very little difference.

    Perhaps the need for community is met by other members of the body, as you stated above.

    However, this implies that the teacher of the church does not need to couple his teaching with real life extra stuff. Jesus could not have done what he did by communicating by video with the disciples. Not that that’s the point – but I think it does say something.

    Can’t wait to read the rest of your series, Kent. You ROCK!

  2. Great Post.

    I think people also see video teaching as an either/or. Essentially, we either have a pastor preaching in the flesh or we pop in the dvd and watch someone else.

    As a communicator, I look at this as a both/and. There are times when someone else simply says something in a better way than I do. I could try to emulate them, or I could just let them do it.

    This doesn’t mean that next Sunday I will let Andy Stanley speak for me. It just means that I see this as one of many resources I use to communicate on Sunday.

  3. Kent, I’d be interested in your take on another potential downside:

  4. Good piece Kent. I’m wondering from a personal perspective if you’ve attended a church with regular Video Sermons, and if so, what were the common positive and negative response to it, including, of course, your own reaction.

  5. You make valid points, but it channels theology in one direction without much inter-personal interaction.

    So, if it’s conservative evangelism you’re after, without much thinking involved, then fine. If you’re like most people and think, then it might leave something to be desired.

    A provocative comment ? More food for thought, I hope.

  6. I’d be interested in how video teaching relates to the leadership mode Paul addressed in Ephesians 4.11-13. Video teaching makes for something different which people will attend but I don’t know if you can call it church. At least not a biblical model?

  7. I think this model for training and preparing people for specific ministries, and even sharing basic church beliefs, doctrines and values is so cool to have online.

    Instead of a leader of the Welcome Ministry having to explain for the hundredth time “how things are done” to the hundredth person, they can direct them to the site containing that material, have them review it, and then do fine tune-coaching as that person is engrafted to the team.

  8. i recently wrote down some models for helping churches and orgs determining a digital strategy
    -biblically-guided technology
    -biblical principles drive the technological resources not the other way around

  9. If I’m going to take the time to go to church, I want to hear a message delivered by someone who is a higher caliber communicator. There are a lot of people out there who can’t preach their way out of a wet paper bag.

    But I wonder sometimes if the motivation here is that certain individuals are not happy with the great influence they already have in several campus locations, and simply want more.

    And why should the “lead” pastor of a particular campus bother with theological training if all he is doing is playing DVDs or downloads, or linking to the satellite?

    Or where does the “earning the right to be heard” of visits to hospitals or counseling sessions kick in if that lead pastor is never going to be heard?

    And what happens when there’s only a dozen “live” evangelical churches left in the U.S., and everything else is a secondary campus?

  10. I’m going to be honest. I really don’t like video church. There are few reasons. 1. I believe it shows arrogance on the side of the Teaching Pastor to believe that God cannot raise up a new teacher for a new campus. I think this is very dangerous and I’m very skeptical of church leaders that decide to go down this road. 2. I believe it creates a bigger than life super-hero out of a teaching pastor. If you haven’t read Shane Hipps book Flickering Pixels I would highly recommend it. The image on the screen plays major tricks on our minds. 3. I do believe that it is easier to attend a church that you have 0 contact with the teaching pastor. He is up there and I am down here. He doesn’t know anything about my life Mon-Sat. I don’t have to worry about shaking his hand or looking him in the eye. It’s very disconnected.

    Those are just my feelings on video preaching. I just encourage people to be very cautious when it comes to bigger than life leaders.

    Thanks for you church relevance website. I enjoy reading the articles!

  11. I’m just deeply disturbed with the comment:

    “And some preachers that do more harm than good when they interact with their congregation.”

    Now I know I’ll get the traditionalist moniker attached but who are we, sitting in our offices and coffee shops not part of another church to speak into the life of that congregation? Not every pastor is called and gifted to be a “high-caliber communicator” (whatever that means) just like not every pastor is called to lead a megachurch.

    Since we aren’t going to engage theologically in the ecclesiological issues of a pastor abidcating fully 1/2 of his biblical authority to someone reproduced digitally, the arrogance of casting aspersions on another, divinely called and placed under-shepherd is disturbing. Who’s to say Preacher A is a less qualified communicator to his people than Video Preacher B?

    The greatest facilitator of spiritual growth in my life was not what some might call an A Level Communicator, but the humble man of God who was able to mold and craft a generation of faithful young people out of my home church. This ability to connect and mentor comes from being known and being able to foster continued spiritual development in one’s congregation.

    I listen to about 10 to 15 preachers in a given week. I do it through podcasts. There are any number of styles of communication they each use. Who are we to say that style A or B is good but the other styles aren’t?

    (But these communicators are not speaking into my life from a pastoral leadership level. They are just communicators.)

    If we define “success” by the size of a church or a supposed high level of communication we have negated the role of the Holy Spirit in our midst.

  12. @Garet

    To clarify, the text “do more harm” hyperlinks to this article:

    By harm, I do not mean ineloquence but rather unloving, self-centered, and/or abusive. Some of the people most powerfully used by God are not good communicators (after all Moses stuttered).

  13. Hey Kent,

    Awesome post and thanks for walking through some of the myths associated with leveraging video teaching at a church. I love the passion I see here for the power of preaching in people’s lives and in the heart beat of the local church.

    Tony Steward

    Online Community Pastor of

  14. ok… I think that we forget what is a church. A church is a community where every one GIVES something and also RECIEVES something. The church online si a one way communication in most of what is intended to be. I laughed few years ago with some friends that will be a time when we will do church online. Then it looked strange and funny, but times change.

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