Does Video Kill the Radio Star?

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“I believe certain technologies preclude incarnational ministry. And the reason I believe that is because God became embodied in Jesus. And embodiment means human physical touch; presence. And there are certain technologies that disembody us, like video.”
-Shane Hipps from the Summer 2007 issue of Leadership Journal

WARNING: this blog contains a rant.

I have not used this blog to press my thinking on much… it has been mostly entertainment (I hope)! But I saw this quote (which I love) and had to post about it.

I don’t hide the fact that I claim to be a follower of Jesus. It seems to me that the idea of Christianity is one of relationship. At the center of this belief system is a connection with God the Creator through Jesus, and a connection to a community of believers who embody the very nature of Jesus. These relationships seem to be an inseparable part of what it means to be a Jesus follower.

Back to the subject matter of the quote. I think the obsession that many evangelical churches have with “presentations” is directing people away from relationships. Mega-churches are booming as they build big theater-like auditoriums, craft slick age-appropriate programs, and present bite-sized gospel teachings. It seems like many of the churches in the US have lost their way and view relationships as something to figure out how to program.

Now, I have no problem with churches using media. Some of the most powerful forms of creative expression happen through media. Video can also be a good use of resources, saving the use of paper to communicate certain information.

But how about this… when a church gets to be a size where they feel like they need to project their pastors big head on the screen so people can actually see his face during the service, maybe they should think about multiplying their efforts… investing in more leaders… having faith that other gifted people can teach and lead… and becoming more localized so relationships can really become central. That might not “feed the monkey” and pay for your big building campaign, though…

When I say “multiply your efforts” I do not mean videofy. A know there is a trend today for many sizable churches to want to create “satalites”, broadcasting services on screens so that the “DNA” and “excellence” of the mother church is preserved. Whose DNA are we to be preserving? Who’s church is it anyway? This approach is so counter-relational it is scary… it is perpetuating a consumeristic brand of christianity that is selling people a hollow gospel. Christianity without relationship at the core is powerless.

I know much of this seems loaded and probably needs more unpacking… remember it is a rant!
I certainly do not have this all figured out, but I am frusterated enough to speak up and to do something about it… something more than complaining… something positive. More on that soon.

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One Comment on “Does Video Kill the Radio Star?”

  1. Brandon Says:

    You make an interesting point…. I have been thinking a lot about what the relationship and teaching aspect of ministry need to be. Sometimes I think that the teaching could be video on a screen… on youtube… on a video… whatever, so long as it was experienced in community… so a small group tunes into a “feed” and hears a short teaching, then discuss and contextualize it within their community.

    I think in some ways this is the way I would like to “go” to church. Dont waste time driving across town to the megaplex church… just fire up youtube… download this week… watch it in community and then still have time leftover to actually go apply it in real action within my community.

    I realize there are aspects of this that are maybe impersonal… but I am just not sure that invalidates it… I only know Rob Bell in the most trivial way… just many of his messages have been effective in changing the way I see Jesus and live.

    just a thought I guess…


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