Should pastors preach via video feed? Christopher Ash cites the Incarnation against it

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Over at The Gospel Coalition, Christopher Ash, director of the Proclamation Trust’s Cornhill Training Course in London, has a provocative piece on why pastors should preach to congregants via video feed as little as possible.

While he doesn’t rule out the use of video at all, he points out that Christ became flesh and dwelt among us (John 1.14), and that that incarnational ministry should be imitated by the pastor. Is he saying that the evangelical pastor somehow represents or images Christ to the congregation similar to how the tradition views the sacramental priesthood?

He also points out that a pastor should be known by his flock so that they can learn not only from his words but also his actions.

Ash makes an observation about microphones similar to that made by Brantly Millegan in his article Of Mics and Men‘. However, while Millegan concludes that microphones should not be used in the Mass as a general rule, Ash uses the fact that we already use microphones as a reason to accept video preaching to some degree:

And when we think about it, there isn’t a simple choice between immediate bodily presence and remote tele-preaching. The moment we use a microphone we distance the preacher by putting electronic voice amplification between us and him. His bodily presence is less immediate. And when we fix a camera on the preacher at the front and project his face on screens around a large building, we reduce the immediacy of his bodily presence, too.

Ash concludes: “So can preachers preach from screens? Yes, they can. It’s possible and it’s not wrong. But we will be wise to avoid it.”

Read the whole piece here.

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Comments

  1. Really interesting question, and also brings into focus other questions that we engage in about e.g. communication via social media (and just how much the church values ‘the body’ – whether correctly or not?) … bearing in mind that we get most of our knowledge through the Bible which has been printed in a particular form of technology/translated by someone in particular, etc.. Lots of big questions!

    • drbexl,
      Great points. I’ve thought about that, too. The plan of salvation included passing down the Word of God via writing. Yet, I also think that, what is the way that we receive the Word of God in worship? Through hearing. Someone reads it. And that’s when the Word of God is in it’s proper place: being read in the liturgy. I think the concerns over ‘screen preaching’ are more about the use of the technology in worship rather than the use of the technology at all. Part of this also, I think, stems from how evangelicals conceive of their Sunday worship in general. From what I can tell, many evangelicals view their Sunday worship as primarily about teaching and communicating a message – in which case there doesn’t seem to be a problem with ‘screen preaching’. But I think it’s a different story if one’s Sunday worship is sacramental.

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