Tim Keller writes:
Dr. Lloyd-Jones effectively dismantles the idea that watching a video or listening to an audio of a sermon is as good as coming physically into an assembly and listening to a sermon with a body of people.
It is obviously a good thing if a person who never hears or reads the Bible listens to the recording of a good gospel message and is helped by it. But the Doctor argues that people experience the sermon in a radically different way if they hear it together with a body of listeners and if they see the preacher. Watching on a screen or listening as you walk detaches you and the sermon becomes mere information, not a whole experience. There is a power and impact that the media cannot convey.
You can read the whole post here (which is on more than this issue).
Before any discussion begins in the comments, a couple of things to remember:
First, this isn’t a post by Keller on video preaching per se; it’s on Lloyd-Jones on the primary of preaching, with one application to this issue, and with the point that it’s just not the same.
Second, in any full-orbed discussion it’s important not just to look at what something removes but what it creates.
In their book Laws of Media: The New Science Marshall and Eric McLuhan explained that new technologies have varying effects:
- somethings are enhanced or become more prominent
- other things become obsolete or less prominent
- some things are retrieved or recovered
- and sometimes there is a reversal or return to older patterns when a technology is pushed too far.
Whether you’re a critic or a fan, it’s important to see what a new technology can create and what is can undermine, and then to weigh both sides. Too many times people only spotlight the pros, or only spotlight the cons, and present this in simplistic terms. (I’m not referring at all to Keller’s presentation.)
Using Andy Crouch’s 5 Questions rubric, you could try to work through questions like these:
- What does video preaching assume about the way the world is?
- What does video preaching assume about the way the world should be?
- What does video preaching make possible?
- What does video preaching make impossible (or at least a lot more difficult)?