A good friend Josh commented on the site with this question. What do you think?
I recently heard at a pastors conference, and the speaker admitted it was controversial, that true effective preaching can only be done in the presence of the hearers. Connecting deeply, not just with their ears, but with the personal interaction that occurs during preaching. In effect, he suggested that preaching via TV, radio, listening to a sermon online (live or a replay) etc. fell short of the essence of preaching. What do you think?
I’ll give a couple of thoughts, but I’d like to hear other peoples’ opinions on this too.
I’m inclined to agree. True preaching should be the true meaning of the text, communicated effectively by the speaker with applied relevance to the listeners. Just yesterday I was teaching on the importance of earthing applications as specifically as possible. This is a good habit in personal Bible study and in preaching to others. The difficulty in preaching via media is that application may remain slightly generic. Furthermore it reduces the interpersonal connection which occurs through multiple channels, not just the ear, as mentioned. (Some preachers preach as if only to the ear, even in person . . . an unfortunate over-simplification of true preaching.) So media preaching seems to undermine both “effective communication” and “applied relevance” in my understanding of preaching.
On the other hand, this was probably not the speaker’s intent, but I would be somewhat careful before criticising preaching through media. We live in a day of incredible opportunities via electronic media. People in inaccessible countries are hearing the gospel via radio (traditional and online) and coming to salvation. Ministry can be multiplied, including good quality ministry. I suspect the conference may have made CDs available, so his teaching may be accessed in the months and years ahead by people who could not be at the conference. Nursery workers in churches are able to serve the church and its parents by watching the children and then hearing the sermon later. We live in a day of tremendous technological possibilities.
I agree that preaching via media falls slightly short of the ideal, but at the same time I’m thankful for media that allows people access to “slightly short of the ideal” ministry, when the alternative is either none at all, or only face to face preaching that falls far short of the ideal in other ways. Media preaching should never replace true in-person preaching of whatever standard, but it can be a blessing as a supplement, or for some, as genuinely the only option.
The readers of this site are a good group of people, what do you think about this?