One of my media-savvy friends, Liz Roberts, has alerted me to the report in Sunday's Telegraph that church leaders are planning to post videos of sermons online.
To hear that "The Archbishop of Canterbury is planning to use the site to broadcast his sermons in an attempt to make the Church more relevant to the internet generation" suggests to me that his advisers don't understand either 'relevance' or 'the internet generation'. Personally I appreciate Rowan Williams' deep, informed and reflective theology, but posting sermons on YouTube seems to me, in cultural senstivity terms, like building a large Victorian church in an Indian fishing village. Or have I missed the point about the genre?
A leading missiologist and practitioner of our time, Ryan Bolger, has research showing (no surprise to many) that people love Jesus, hate the church. And Stuart Murray-Williams identifies
Alarm that we are losing from our churches many former members who are not losing their faith but find church uninspiring, disempowering, crushing and dehumanising. In post-Christendom, institutional loyalty and inertia no longer prevents this haemorrhage of disillusioned Christians.But it seems 'the church' is not able to hear its own voice. So now, one of the very features that people associate with the church negatively - the sermon - is coming to get them just where they thought they were safe ... in the YouTube playground.
18 months ago Ryan blogged about doing church for 'them'. The sermons-on-YouTube idea looks like doing it to them when they don't want you to.
A Lambeth Palace spokesman says of YouTube "It provides limitless access to what any minister has to say. You have to preach where people are listening." I want to edit that, and suggest that instead of preaching (modelling the old paradigm), you have to allow people to hear about dignity, faith, and wholeness of mind, body and spirit, in ways and languages they can respond to, not through models they have evidently rejected. I'm with Brian McLaren who says in his book More Ready than you Realize:
OUT :Two questions remain for me:
Evangelism as sales pitch, conquest, warfare,
ultimatum, threat, proof, argument, entertainment,
show, monologue, as something you have to do
Disciple-making as conversation, friendship, influence,
invitation, companionship, challenge, opportunity,
conversation, dance, as something you get to do
to Lambeth ~ why should it be "what the minister has to say"?
and to anyone ~ do you post sermons under comedy, entertainment, or pets?