What objections come up for you when you read that statement?

This past Sunday many churches had begun using Facebook Live or other software to broadcast their Sunday morning service. I saw a few social media comments about all the great content that was being produced from all over.

Now maybe for your church making a sermon available to watch is positive. But why did you decide to do it? What were the positives of the decision? Were there any negatives?

Clearly part of the decision was practical…

  • You can’t meet in person and people expect a sermon,
  • Most churches are doing it,
  • Maybe we’ll reach new people.

The church is often reactive rather than proactive. It has done some incredible things reacting to needs around it. But it can also fail to be proactive at crucial moments in history. And this seems to be one of those crucial moments.

I’m not saying some churches…or perhaps all…should not stream their services (despite the title of this post). But I do wonder if many have seriously thought through why they are doing in and what the ramifications might be.

In Economics there is something called, “the Law of Unintended Consequences.” A great example is when the British government, in an attempt to rid Delhi of cobras, paid people to bring in dead cobras. The unintended consequence of that is some ingenious people began breeding cobras so they would have a steady income stream. The British government stopped paying for the snakes, so the breeders released them into the wild, making the problem worse than before.

I wonder about the consequences of simply packaging our Sunday service and releasing it into the interwebs. What are the consequences of that? Is there one?

Are we teaching people to simply “consume” our sermons as they do other internet content? Are we telling them that this is really the most important part of the life of the church and you can receive it without being connected in any way? If that is true, what stops them from finding someone who is producing even better content than you? (Because somebody is). And maybe when you can meet in person again, they decide watching church in their pjs is preferred.

Clearly, the current global health crisis is causing churches to interact differently than normal. Perhaps this is an opportunity to scrap the sermon for a few weeks. (Gasp) Maybe you take your sermon prep time and meet with small groups of people online throughout the church…teach, encourage, get them to participate…hear their hearts.

I’m sure you can come up with a bunch of great ideas.

Here is my key idea. Don’t allow your reaction to this crisis train people to see the church as a simple producer of religious content. What if we used this period we are in to strengthen the relational bonds in your church community?

Are there needs that exist in your church? People who are struggling with loneliness…who can’t get to the store. Are there needs in the larger community that you could meet…while still practising safe hygiene and social distancing?

Are we seeing this time as a temporary inconvenience that we will eventually get past and get back to doing what we’ve always done…or are we seeing this as an opportunity to follow Jesus as he does something brand new in our churches and our neighbourhoods.

I’d love to hear innovative things your community is doing. Please share them below.

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