I just read that the very large and really wonderful Church of the Resurrection, in Leawood, Kansas, has offered to pipe in sermons to smaller, struggling churches approximately 75% of the time in order to give their pastors more time to do other things.
This is my response to the suggestion:
When I am bringing the Word of God to my congregation, it is the high moment of expression of God’s love for them, my love for them and my calling to preach the word of God to them in the ways that is best suited to their context. As I lead them to the Word of God, as a pastor leads the sheep to green pastures and still waters, I do so with acute and intimate knowing. I know their great joys and their great struggles. I know which marriages are cracking up, which children are in trouble, and whose great aunt is dying. I know what is going on in our community and can seek to bring those events into the understanding of grace, particularly the prevenient movement of the Spirit that prepares hearts for the fullness of salvation. Preaching is not some disembodied act that can be laid on high there. Or at least it should not be.
In my opinion, if big rich churches really want to help little, struggling churches, they might consider these things:
1. Provide for and maintain for each church a good and informative website, since at least 80% of people first coming to a church will have started at the website.2. Purchase for the church at least one good quality computer and a good quality color printer, so decent publications can be done in house, and pay for high-speed Internet access. Maintenance and repair costs to be covered by the big rich church.
3. Purchase and install a good integrated database program so all church records, membership, giving, activity and other things can be put in electronic form and easily accessed when needed.
4. Provide funds for a part-time administrator for the church.
None of these things is nearly so glamorous as piping in high-tech sermons, but each of them would help provide badly needed infrastructure that would then permit the local pastor to get the know the community, spend time with the people, mine the Holy Scriptures for riches to offer them in a contextually correct and powerfully personally loving way on Sunday morning.
What do you think? Would smaller churches be better off having their sermons coming from a remote source rather than their local pastor? Might having such professionalism help on Sunday mornings? I’d sure like to hear from people who attend worship in their local churches.