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July 14th, 2010
04:57 PM ET

'Virtual preaching' revolutionizes Sunday sermons

People listening to their pastor preach on Sunday morning may now ask a question that no one has ever asked before: Is this live or is this on tape delay?

More pastors are using high-def videos, and even holograms, to beam their Sunday morning sermons to remote "satellite" churches that belong to their congregation, as I detail in a story today.

They are pastors like Rev. Ed Young, senior pastor of Fellowship Church in Dallas, Texas. Young broadcast videos of his sermons from his “mother” church to other congregations in Texas and even one in Florida.

Young says he doesn’t think parishioners who watch his video-projected sermons at other locations are being short-changed:

I don't think you lose a thing. I would argue you could see me better when you're at a venue made for screens.

Yet the Rev. Thomas Long, a nationally recognized authority on preaching and author of "Preaching from Memory to Hope," says something is lost when preachers beam in their Sunday morning sermons:

There's something about embodiment - that the person who delivers the sermon is actually there - that's important. It's important in the same way that someone physically visits someone in a hospital or buries a loved one - they don't fax it in.

We live in a culture that’s becoming more visual. Are pastors like Young just taking advantage of existing technology  or is there something vital about a pastors being physically present when they preach?

- CNN Writer

Filed under: Culture & Science

soundoff (51 Responses)
  1. David Johnson

    @Anna

    You said, "If science is so reliable, why haven't scientists and historians been able to disprove Christianity? in fact, if you actually did some research, you'd find that science and history actually point more to Christianity being true."

    Do you guys do any reading other than the bible? Science has proven the Creation Story is a myth. If the creation story did not happen, then there was no original sin. If there was no original sin then, there is no need for a redeemer. If there is no need for a redeemer, what of Christianity?
    Also, the flood is a myth. It was local. The earth is not flat. A man was not swallowed by a great fish and later vomited up. Science would say the virgin birth didn't happen.

    Science cannot prove a negative. I can't prove there is no god. But science can prove the stories attributed to this god are myth. Cheers!

    August 5, 2010 at 4:38 pm |
  2. Jesuslovesyou

    Your darn right people dont rise from the dead (naturally), hence, God raised his Son to life to vindicate Him as God once and for all for forgiveness of sins to all who would believe in him! hallelujah! the universe isint doomed to colapse in ultimate heat death! Gods workin on it!!

    August 3, 2010 at 9:11 pm |
    • David Johnson

      God doesn't even seem to be able to "handle" the things on this planet.

      August 5, 2010 at 5:45 pm |
  3. Reformed

    All those whom God hath predestinated unto life, and those only, he is pleased, in his appointed and accepted time, effectually to call, by his Word and Spirit, out of that state of sin and death, in which they are by nature, to grace and salvation, by Jesus Christ; enlightening their minds spiritually and savingly to understand the things of God, taking away their heart of stone, and giving unto them a heart of flesh; renewing their wills, and, by his almighty power, determining them to that which is good, and effectually drawing them to Jesus Christ: yet so, as they come most freely, being made willing by his grace.

    2. This effectual call is of God's free and special grace alone, not from anything at all foreseen in man, who is altogether passive therein, until, being quickened and renewed by the Holy Spirit, he is thereby enabled to answer this call, and to embrace the grace offered and conveyed in it.

    Fact: God does not love all "... Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated..." don't spread blasphemy

    August 3, 2010 at 2:20 pm |
    • David Johnson

      I spy with my little eye a 5 point Calvinist! I've been telling everyone, that everything is predestined. I bet you will back me up on that. Say hey to Fred for me!

      August 5, 2010 at 5:42 pm |
  4. Jo

    What they forgot to mention in the article is that most of the churches with satellite campuses that broadcast a video of the sermon have a different type of government. They have a satellite pastor that is there for the people of that satellite and the person in the video is just the preacher.
    It would be silly to think that it was just Peter the one who pastored the people of the early church described in the book of acts just because he was the one who delivered the message to the people. He had other disciples and apostles with Him. Most of the pastors of churches with satellite campuses are doing the best they can with the growth they have. They are being faithful with what God has given them including their own time.

    August 3, 2010 at 12:33 pm |
  5. NL

    CatholicMom-
    Every scientific breakthrough that man has ever discovered is a gift from God? Does that include nuclear weapons? Thalidomide? Weaponized Anthrax? Were these gifts from God? Doesn't God own the whole of human knowledge, the good and the bad?

    Perhaps for every potential miracle-producing scientist being aborted a potential warlord, mass murderer, or serial rapist is also lost. Given that many criminals do come from having dysfunctional and disadvantaged childhoods how can you say that society loses out when a woman who knows she is not in a position to give a child even an average upbringing chooses to abort?

    July 30, 2010 at 2:18 pm |
    • David Johnson

      Abortion, may even be responsible for a lower crime rate. Abortion is a gift from god. It may be a partial answer to overpopulation.

      God is great for giving us yet another tool!

      August 5, 2010 at 5:49 pm |
  6. Anna

    Hey Growski...

    If science is so reliable, why haven't scientists and historians been able to disprove Christianity? in fact, if you actually did some research, you'd find that science and history actually point more to Christianity being true.

    Read "Case For Christ" By Lee Strobel. The author writes about his quest to disprove Christianity and through the process becomes a believer. You might find it interesting.

    Personally, I'm a believer and I can't imagine my life without Christ. I just wish that so many people weren't so closed minded and that they wouldn't buy into stereotypes and what television has to say about Christianity.

    July 19, 2010 at 12:24 pm |
    • CatholicMom

      Anna,
      Keep in mind that everything we have and know is a gift from God and we should be thanking Him for every scientific breakthrough that man has ever discovered. Each new discovery is a gift from God and I thank Him for these scientists that spend their lives looking for answers through science.
      A very sad thing is….every abortion kills a possible ‘answer’ we are ‘waiting’ for. We keep waiting for the answer for Cancer, as an example….God sends us new life with possible answers and through abortion we kill this new life. Then we get angry at God because the answers don’t come ‘fast enough’ for us….

      July 21, 2010 at 9:28 pm |
    • NL

      More like, "why haven't scientists and historians been able to disprove Christianity" to everyone's satisfaction? A great many people have been convinced and more continue to be. The problem is that some people will continue to believe in something even with overwhelming evidence to the contrary. There are, for example, people who still believe that the earth is flat. L. Ron Hubbard is quoted as saying something like "I'd like to start a religion. That's where the money is!" but look at how many Scientologists out there who do not see this as an admission to starting a religion purely for profit. As the old saying goes "You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink." Well, the atheists here will gladly lead any Christian to the water of proof against Christianity, but it's up to the Christian to at least look at it.

      July 30, 2010 at 2:01 pm |
    • David Johnson

      @CatholicMom

      You said, "Keep in mind that everything we have and know is a gift from God and we should be thanking Him for every scientific breakthrough that man has ever discovered. Each new discovery is a gift from God and I thank Him for these scientists that spend their lives looking for answers through science."

      If each discovery is a gift from god, why does He make mankind suffer for so long before He gives the gift?

      Example:
      More than millions have died from small pox. In the 18th century alone, 400,000 Europeans died each year. in the 20th century, the WHO (World Health Organization) estimated about 300-500 million deaths. Many more people have died, as this has dated back to 10,000 B.C.

      Man makes his own discoveries. No god required.

      How would new inventions and discoveries look different if there were no god? Ans. – They would look a lot like they do now.

      Cheers!

      August 6, 2010 at 9:58 am |
  7. Gil T

    The idea of hearing/viewing the message from a big screen does not give me that warm-fuzzy feeling, but then that’s not what seek or expect when I gather with the saints to hear the preaching of the word. Young gives a good account from scripture for his embrace of technology. I especially value his point that preaching must have a theology and meaning and that is vital whether live or telecast. Long’s point about embodiment is true, but I believe churches like Young’s recognize that need and respond to it by ensuring site pastors to the satellite churches. If it has not happened I would anticipate, and would expect Young and others are aware, problems with satellite church collection funds being taken up and administered by another church.

    July 16, 2010 at 12:59 pm |
    • CatholicMom

      A ‘big screen tv’ could never replace a Priest! I need the Sacraments, especially the Holy Eucharist, along with hearing the Word of God spoken by one who has been SENT.
      The tv screen has been a problem in families-it cuts into time families should be communing with each other. We are a family the world over in the Catholic Church; the Sacraments, a means of delivering grace to members by the Servant of God, the Priest, through the Church, could never be done by a big screen tv.
      Sometimes we can receive messages from our Bishop via satellite because he cannot be in every Church in his diocese at once, but that is not what we are discussing here.

      July 19, 2010 at 9:21 am |
    • David Johnson

      @CatholicMom

      You said, "A ‘big screen tv’ could never replace a Priest!"

      I bet a lot of Altar Boys would disagree with that. LOL. LOL 'till my sides ache.

      August 5, 2010 at 4:25 pm |
  8. peace2all

    @ttwp........ Your quote..."Whether someone agrees or not with the bible does not change the fact that the bible is 100% true and accurate."

    Really...? You have got to be kidding right....? Oh, where to start to pick apart your assertion...

    Hmmm.... How do you know absolutely.....that the bible is 100% true and accurate....and you know that it is an absolute (fact).....how....?

    All you sent back to me was another quote from the bible......

    Why don't we start there and get me some (fact) based evidence.....No more quotes from the book in question please..that is not evidence...

    Peace...

    July 15, 2010 at 5:11 pm |
    • ttwp

      @peace2all: It is evidence, but it can only be revealed by God's Holy Spirit. I encourage you to seek Him humbly and not as a skeptic. God knows your heart. If you do, He will reveal Himself and He will reveal truth.

      "Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." (John 8:32)

      July 16, 2010 at 9:39 am |
    • peace2all

      @ttwp.....Again, your quoting more bible verses at me.....

      You have said nothing different.... Again, evidense please...

      Peace...

      July 16, 2010 at 6:51 pm |
    • verify

      ttwp: Your legendary Thomas was a skeptic - he was set aright, according to you. What are we... chopped liver? We do not need to be *more* blessed than Thomas... just give us proof that is tailored to us. "God", if it is omniscient, knows what it is.

      July 16, 2010 at 6:58 pm |
    • NL

      ttwp

      "Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." (John 8:32)

      Atheists do know the truth, and it has set us free! 😉

      July 30, 2010 at 2:22 pm |
  9. Scott Spiewak

    Interesting thread of comments and a well written piece by the reporter. So many churches have gone to this format merely to reach more people in their cities. Anyone can argue theology but the Pastor's are the ones who have to answer to God for what they do not us. Most of us have planks in our own eye's right? Was Jesus wrong for using a boat? Or was that what was made available to Him when he preached?

    July 15, 2010 at 11:40 am |
  10. Cthulance

    "Are pastors like Young just taking advantage of existing technology or is there something vital about a pastors being physically present when they preach?"

    I think the pastors are taking advantage of existing technology. Isn't it ironic that these pastors make full use of technologies which are products of the scientific method? If only their faith could produce similar faith-based technology. Then they wouldn't need those pesky scientists.

    July 15, 2010 at 1:30 am |
  11. William

    A Pastor is a shepherd. He cannot lead a flock if he is not there. The issue is not if the pastor should preach in person or preach via high-def video. The problem is that we have substituted pastoring with preaching and used those words as synonyms today. They are not synonyms. Preaching is one aspect, and sometimes not the most important one, of being a Pastor. The Pastor cares, protects, provides, warns of dangers. He is also called to set an example that the congregation can follow, in how he lives, how he deals with the issues of life, how he cares about his family, etc. The example of a pastor preaches louder that his sermons, how can a "screen pastor" do that? Yes, they provide a local pastor to do that. Ok, then he should be the one doing the preaching too, because he is the true pastor of that Church, not the video preacher. I am not against watching or listening to a good sermon preached by someone other than my pastor. But I will always call "Pastor" the man who calls me by name, knows my family and what we do, and I know him, his family and follow his example. That is what a Pastor is supposed to do. If he can do it with 1,000 members, fine. If not, his church is to big, ask God for more workers for the field and give them their own flock to pastor. Of course, this goes against financial success of big Churches. Well, I don´t think God cares about that, do you? He cares about spiritual success. After all, he owns all the god and silver of the world!

    July 15, 2010 at 12:22 am |
  12. ttwp

    But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.

    For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.

    July 14, 2010 at 11:46 pm |
  13. HeIsGod

    Praise God! He's Word shall be spread around the world! People shall here the Word of God through great men of God and I pray that millions will see these pastors preach on the internet!

    July 14, 2010 at 11:34 pm |
    • CatholicMom

      HelsGod,
      ………. You wrote on a post a while ago.....“You already lost. If you don't want to believe the Lamb of God, that is your free will of choice, no one cares, really.”

      I don’t think you really meant the parts where you said…. ‘you are already lost’ and that ‘no one cares, really.”

      Don’t you agree that everyone is a child of God and that we are not to judge their soul? We must judge actions and words spoken and leave the soul judging to God alone. Do not judge your soul either. Some say they are guaranteed Heaven and proclaim others a place in Hell. This is not for us to judge.

      If we are in Christ and Him in us…we will care about them, too, every single one of them. Remember Jesus is the Lamb of God, as you said; He is the Good Shepherd who would leave 99 sheep and go out into the desert searching for that one lost sheep rather than leave it to the wolves. No one will be devoured unless they choose to keep running away….Jesus will open His arms and engulf them with His Love but it they keep kicking and fighting all the while, He will not force them to stay; He is such a Good Shepherd He will make sure that is what they desire before He lets them go……for eternity. He knows they could just be caught in a thicket.

      July 18, 2010 at 2:49 pm |
  14. Reality

    More brainwashing of the proletariat. The medium might change but the same brainwashing with the Christian resurrection myth continues just like it did 2000 years ago. Hear this, no one rises from the dead.

    July 14, 2010 at 11:09 pm |
    • HeIsGod

      Hi, Reality, if you truly think that we are being brainwashed, why do Atheists waste their time blogging this and any Christianity or Religion articles. I mean, when I see an article that I don't like, I don't even bother blogging or commenting it. All of you sound the same, repeats the same, whine, complain.....why bother fighting the very God that created you? You already lost. If you don't want to believe the Lamb of God, that is your free will of choice, no one cares, really. We can respect it. But, if you are going to be as a child and comment your nonsense, we will not attack, but will stand and defend what our faith and stand on the very Living Word of God.

      Have a blessed night...God loves you!

      July 14, 2010 at 11:40 pm |
    • oh lol

      And which creator god is that? Are you talking about Amun? Or perhaps Brahman? Cernunnos? Obatala or Yu-Huang-Shang-Ti? I'm just curious as to which creator god you are referring to. I just think you should be specific if you are going to defend your beliefs since you expect people who do not believe like you are expected to.

      And before you give me the standby commandment about no other gods, remember the god of the hebrews did not deny the existence of others, just that they should not come before him.

      July 15, 2010 at 8:58 pm |
    • David Johnson

      @Helsgod

      Yes, and if you can't win the argument any other way, I guess you can aways delete the other person's argument. LOL

      August 5, 2010 at 4:22 pm |
  15. growski

    I hope they have constant internet problems..

    July 14, 2010 at 10:05 pm |
    • HeIsGod

      Well, yeah, growski, so does the devil, he wants them to have internet problems as well, but guess what? Greater is He (God) who dwells within us than he (Satan) who is of the world!

      July 14, 2010 at 11:36 pm |
  16. TheRationale

    How is this news? They've been on television for decades.

    July 14, 2010 at 9:43 pm |
    • growski

      its news because they are now trying to preach on the internet live, not just television.

      July 14, 2010 at 10:07 pm |
  17. Bonnie

    All orgainized religion is man made. The only thing God requires is respect for Him and sincerity of heart toward Him. If we give Him what He deserves, He will reward us immediately with His wisdom. Respect for Almighty God, the Creator, will be well rewarded. I, for one, can vouch for that. There is no hocus pocus, fllash or sorcery; just genuine love; and this is offered to anyone willing to put their self-serving haughty and stubborn ego down for five minutes and ask God to allow them to know Him. His faithful Son, Jesus Christ will respond to all those who are sincere; for he is the one who has the authority to allow us to know His God and Father. Please see John 1:12 in the Holy Bible. Please don't be lazy; study Jesus' teachings by yourself; if you rely on TV, you stand an excellent chance of being misled and bled of your money. Find out what God wants you to know, through HIs own Son and through God's own WORD.-Please see 2nd Timothy 3:13.

    July 14, 2010 at 5:16 pm |
    • peace2all

      @Bonnie...... ALL religion is man made......your whole posting suggests that going inside yourself and deciding what is right for you...... by reading the bible is different than what televangelists are doing...

      bible=fact.... god/jesus=fact........... Your beliefs=fact.....

      The truth is your beliefs are not fact..... and please don't assume that they are.

      Is it more vital as the article is asking for a preacher to actually be there...?

      Well, at all doesn't really matter....

      Peace....

      July 14, 2010 at 6:29 pm |
    • growski

      Religion is based on "faith" where science is based evidence provided by slow, methodical research and reason... I"ll go with science...

      July 14, 2010 at 10:06 pm |
    • Erik

      To growski's comment about faith versus science and one being based on evidence and the other not. You may not be well informed about your opinion. The Christian faith is not a "blind faith" as some mischaracterize it. The Christian's faith is based on evidence and that is the written evidence of the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John). You may choose to not believe it, but it is the eyewitness evidence for the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Do you believe that Homer wrote the Odyssey? Do you believe that Plato wrote the Republic? All of these works and other events in history have far fewer pieces of evidence for their authenticity than the Bible and their evidence is much farther removed from the originals. Just ask that you keep an open mind and consider the evidence of eyewitnesses to Christ. If someone claims a "blind faith" they really don't understand what it means to be a Christian. It is a faith in the evidence (eyewitness testimony) that God has given us in the Bible. Peace to you as well. Hope you find true peace.

      July 14, 2010 at 10:31 pm |
    • Erik

      Guess I should comment on the issue at hand. No, as a Christian I am not too crazy about the idea of beaming pastor's sermons to satellite locations. I know this is the modern age, but there is a very important aspect of pastoring that goes missing with this type of preaching. The pastor is to be a shepherd of his flock – he needs to be involved in the lives of his flock so that he can preach to their needs better. This is his charge. I think God's people are ultimately short-changed in this type of preaching, because the pastor doesn't really know his "audience." I've been a member of a large megachurch and now I've chosen to be a member of a much smaller church where the pastor knows every member and he is able to miinister the Word of Christ to each one personally. That's what the Gospel is all about... relationships.

      July 14, 2010 at 10:40 pm |
    • Reality

      Erik, Actually Paul, Mark, Matthew, Luke and John were not eyewitnesses. You might want to read Brown's exhaustive study in his 800 page book, An Introduction to the New Testament to get the "skinny" on these guys.

      July 14, 2010 at 10:53 pm |
    • peace2all

      @Erik.........It has been well established by the majority of bible scholars, the majority of them being christian bible scholars that none of the so called gospels were 'eye' witness testimonies.......

      Mark...supposedly the earliest written, was written well after the 'alleged life of jesus.'.....

      Not even in the same ball park as evidenced based science.....

      Good try though....

      Peace.....

      July 15, 2010 at 12:40 am |
    • ttwp

      Whether someone agrees or not with the Bible does not change the fact that the Bible is 100% true and accurate.

      "Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth." (John 17:17)

      July 15, 2010 at 8:48 am |
    • KennyL

      Sorry Bonnie but as usual u need to be corrected. In a way you are correct however, it is just your figures that are off. 99 percent of religions are indeed man made with the exception of just one.

      You yourself quote the scriptures, the very pages of the books compiled and put together via thousands of years of oral held Tradition by the Cathollic Church which Scripture calls "The pillar and foundation of truth" 1 Tim 3:15. You will not tell others that verse will you? You just take the one part and use it alone to prove your point but without reading it in context of the previous and oncoming verses you distort scripture to your own destruction [2 Pet 3:16].

      Just because you don't go to church at all does not mean you must promote your own "religion" to condemn others. the very Bible you quote was out together by the Catholic Church!

      July 15, 2010 at 9:12 am |
    • Trudy Sutherland

      Hi Bonnie, your post is coming from the environment that contains the information and emotion that God speaks into using Himself at peace. Christians call it the holy spirit and Hebrews infinity and there are other names within other groupings who have understood it in part. Jesus Christ and His information makes up the environment and everyone understanding from there will attach and exist within it forever. I love you very much and I appreciated God in your note. Trudy

      Is there someone at your church who is understanding an interest from God about how to understand all knowledge (and as a result all things) from Him. He is causing that to be understood again to this population of human beings within the world and human existence as it is understood now.

      If you are understanding thought or desire to focus on things that are supposed to happen, that can happen forever at peace which causes the capacity to experience God's love to and through you, then you are understanding from the holy spirit and understanding what God is doing now to renew the understanding about how to live within the Kingdom of God understanding all knowledge that pertains to the use of yourself within subject matters that pertain to forever.

      Trudy Sutherland

      July 15, 2010 at 11:45 am |
    • oh lol

      @ttwp – lol the stories in the bible started as oral traditions handed down through generations of people. It was then written, rewritten, picked apart and translated thousands of times. In fact a lot of it was taken from other, earlier traditions – the story of a son born of a diety who will resurrect and save his people, was told by the Egyptians and the Celts hundreds of years before the first christians. So your statement about the bible being true and accurate is sadly, well, not.

      July 15, 2010 at 8:44 pm |
    • Anna

      Hey Growski...

      If science is so reliable, why haven't scientists and historians been able to disprove Christianity? in fact, if you actually did some research, you'd find that science and history actually point more to Christianity being true.

      Read "Case For Christ" By Lee Strobel. The author writes about his quest to disprove Christianity and through the process becomes a believer. You might find it interesting.

      Personally, I'm a believer and I can't imagine my life without Christ. I just wish that so many people weren't so closed minded and that they wouldn't buy into stereotypes and what television has to say about Christianity

      July 19, 2010 at 12:26 pm |
    • CatholicMom

      To Anna and Growski,

      Please, stop the ‘fighting’! Science is wonderful and so is faith. They are not conflicting by any means! Science is able to prove wonderful things that God has put into place.

      We have discovered many things with science and it is truly wonderful every time something new is ‘opened to us’. [Remember Jesus Christ had told the Apostles that there is so much more for them to learn but that He knew they could not bear to hear it all right then and there…] I am just thrilled with every new discovery and wonder what the next one will be. God gave man the ability and I appreciate ever single person's efforts made towards ever new discoveries that may make our lives ‘easier’.

      When man spends time learning and putting the facts together he has less time to spend fight wars.

      They just showed some marvelous pictures on tv of creatures that live at the bottom of the ocean which had never been seen before-without those magnificent cameras we would be in the dark about these creatures.

      Each new discovery leads to another; we should never be bored with life! We should thank God for everything He has given us and how he has revealed things to us through science!

      July 19, 2010 at 1:54 pm |
    • NateinReality

      Growski...Science is based on evidence...I guess they found the missing link and can scientifically prove how inorganic material can become organic material. I guess I missed the news story where we created life out of rocks.

      August 3, 2010 at 12:31 pm |
    • bob

      what about james 1:26 – 27 ?

      August 3, 2010 at 4:17 pm |
    • David Johnson

      @Erik

      You said, "The Christian faith is not a "blind faith" as some mischaracterize it. The Christian's faith is based on evidence and that is the written evidence of the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John). You may choose to not believe it, but it is the eyewitness evidence for the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ."

      The New Testament was written with the purpose of "proving" Jesus was the Messiah and establishing the Christian religion. Mathew, Mark, Luke and John were not the apostles. There is no eyewitness accounts of the life and times of Jesus.

      You have no more evidence for your faith than does the Muslims and Hindus. Cheers!

      August 5, 2010 at 4:00 pm |
    • David Johnson

      @ttwp

      Luke spent considerable time explaining the world to you, a few days ago. Do you ever listen? He owned you, dude.

      August 5, 2010 at 4:19 pm |
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