So a couple of weeks ago there was a dust up about multi-site churches and more narrowly video feed preaching. You can find a video discussion here. You can find links here. There was another blog here that I appreciated. I certainly have not read everything that everybody has said about it. Hopefully this also doesn't come across as a small town pastor in a smaller church with a bad case of sour grapes. Multi-site may in certain cases be a good first step in a church plant provided there is a clear birth process. My point is not to rail against everything. I do want to make a comment about video preaching. I don't want to accuse the motives of those who do: some are good some are bad. Some are more theological sound in other areas of theology, others I'm sure are not.
I want to make the suggestion that I am not sure I have seen argued anywhere: Video preaching under cuts Jesus' example of ministry that we find in the incarnation.
Let me be clear, I think it is possible to go to far with making "incarnation" and "incarnational" as an adjective. But it can function as an analogy at times and even a basis for ethical exhortation (Phil. 2:5) and in a limited sense missional practice (1 Cor. 9:23ff). So when it comes to preaching consider how the incarnation should cause us to rethink video preaching. 1 John says this about the Word of Life:
1 John 1:1 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life— 2 the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us— 3 that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ.
Consider this: the Word of Life came to earth so that he could be seen and touched. He was present with His people as He preached the Word. It was vital to His testimony and the continuing testimony of the witnesses that He was actually there.
I find it ironic that those who are doctrinally more conservative, sticking to God's Word, and who have made much out of "missional" and "incarnational" (and some, maybe even much of it is good), haven't contemplated incarnation as a model for the necessity of physical presence for preaching.
This isn't to say that God can't use podcasts, mp3s, and videos to help people, for extra study, to train the saints, etc. But there is something different from all this when the church gathers. The minister should be just as present to testify to Word of God as we expect the people to be present to receive Word and Sacrament with the communion of the saints.
Let me suggest the minister should be just as present in his preaching as Jesus was as we look at His earthly ministry. If he came from heaven to be the Word of Life to us, surely we can come into the room to present God's Word to His people.
I would suggest that if you are passionate about the incarnation and the earthly presence of Jesus as vital for all subsequent ministry, then we should desire to be equally as present with our people when we exercise oversight and the proclamation of the Word.