Now, alert reader Craig Beard has sent me a CNN article about the Holographic preacher. The article by John Blake begins as follows--------------The Sunday morning service at Fellowship Church in Dallas, Texas, was humming along with hymns and prayers when something unusual happened.
Before you read this blog, know that this one is a bit of a rant and came about as a result of a conversation I am having with a group I started called Ecclesia Spokane about the above Ben Witherington essay on Multi-Site church. Click the link and read Ben's essay for context if you have time.
I will confess that I have an emotional edge on this topic and that this may come off as more of a rant then I would normally want to communicate on most topics – so, reader beware.
For me, at its core, it communicates a seminal misunderstanding of leadership. I have always doggedly held the idea that leadership is to be given away. It is not to be horded or captured, regardless of how important someone might be perceived to be. That is generally how the evangelical church has gotten into trouble. We have honored people too much. It is astounding how many times I have seen people with serious moral failures propped up because we have mistakenly place too much value on their gifting. I can remember when, pastor and radio personality, David Hocking fell into immorality and had submitted to church discipline when Chuck Smith, of Calvary Chapel lore, hired him. Chuck’s response reported in CT to people wondering why he would do this was, “His gift was too important to put on the shelf.” WHAT??? That was really the beginning of the end for me in Calvary Chapel. I don't want this to happen, but if Mark Driscoll or someone else like him doing this were to fall, we would (or will) see the exact same thing, again.
This leadership piece is precisely why we sent out Steve and Scott and Jeromy and Ryan and David (New Community’s church planters)…you get the picture. It would have been a sensible and easy step for me to parlay New Community’s growth and reputation into more growth and into a multi-site mega-something…and Steve Hart (http://vintagefc.com) would have never grown into the amazing leader and preacher he currently is. When Steve first spoke at New Community no one believed he would ever be very good. I’m not lying, and today, there are very few people that I would rather listen to than him. He is both an extraordinary thinker and communicator. The goal in Scripture for me has always been framed out in the idea of multiplication…multiplication of disciples, leaders and communities.
Another thing: For Young (from the Witherington blog) to compare Paul’s letters to Video venuing is an amazingly colossal jump of exegesis. The real issue to keep in mind is Paul was not attempting to shepherd a local flock, but in writing he was attempting to enhance, correct or complement what was already happening in the local. He did stay a few places a bit but Paul was never intending to be THE local pastor or regular communicator. He raised up leaders like Timothy, Titus and a cadre of others to multiply the church in ways that he could never have dreamt of with only his own gift mix…even if he had $1,000,000 of video and satellite capabilities. He was like an itinerate that communicated apostolically to a region.
Ok, here I go with the rant-ish part: The emotional side of me sees this as nothing more than American pragmatism run-amuck. I think we need to utilize technology, but we must hold fast to the core elements of what it means to BE community and how we will lead a community.
In addition to that, it smacks of consumerism at it’s Christian best. I would not be surprised (although, I have distanced myself from this part of the church, so I don’t know) if there weren’t packaged programs; complete with kits on how to create a stage presence that looks almost real and how to make sure your feed doesn’t short out in the middle of “the man’s” talk. It's the way we roll. It is the mentality that I can get the best preaching possible in my hometown. In fact, we don’t even need preachers. We just need to communally vote on who we should listen to and video them in. Maybe we can do a Twitter contest on who we get to be Spokane’s preacher. Hold it, we should do an “American Idol” like contest and… Sorry, I am dangerously close to swearing in print. Why settle for a local communicator. Let’s just hire pastoral types to take care of the messy part of ministry and let the “anointed” one or two good enough to “hold the crowd” give us the real stuff.
Ok, that is ample fodder for now. You know I really love the church…it is just the western-ness of it that drives me to drink.