Arlie's Blog
Wednesday, 30 September 2015
The Fully Electronic Church
Now Playing: The Uncomfortable Pastor

After having visited a number of churches, a thought has come to the fore that I have approached over and over again through many years.  Only this time it has taken more shape, perhaps.  If you read this, I would really like your response to it.

I have wondered why most churches, especially small churches, have pastors at all.  Now keep in mind that I am not necessarily thinking biblically here, only pragmatically.  I was actually troubled when I attended the National Religious Broadcasters convention in 2012 and heard an associate pastor at one of the well-known mega-churches in the country discourse about “D” pastors who would maybe be good enough for a small church somewhere with a congregation of maybe under two hundred, but the large church needs far better, an “A” pastor!

So why have pastors at all, in small churches especially?  With the technology we have today, we don’t really need them.  We can stream the great pastors every Sunday.  Just think, you could have any of those pastors who are on radio or television be your virtual pastor.  As long as you have internet or maybe even just a dvd player with a projector, you are in business.  You could have great preaching every Sunday.

I do need to include a bit of warning here:  you probably will not hear the whole counsel of God in that setup.  The popular preachers on radio and television have a habit of airing their more popular sermons--there are many biblical passages they will never teach on the air (you may surmise why).  I don’t know if they ever teach them otherwise.

Just think about your favorite radio preachers.  Each one of them is known for a certain emphasis.  I can think of one known for emphasizing God’s sovereignty.  That’s wonderful, but there is more to the Bible than that.  I can think of another who emphasizes successful living.  (What really is that?  Making it from the cradle to the grave?  I am sometimes amazed that we even accomplish that!)  Another preacher emphasizes assurance of salvation.  Another one seems to be always in Daniel or Revelation or preaching about Joseph.  If you want to hear the whole Bible taught, you can always bring in Dr. McGee.  Of course, if you listen long enough you may begin to realize that he repeats himself.

But the preaching can be done electronically.  We don’t need to pay someone to preach, provide housing, and fight the battles that occur between congregation and pastor.

And then there is the music.  I have often wondered what would happen today in many churches across America if the electricity failed.  Well, that is a bit of a hazard for the electronic church, but let’s not let that dampen our enthusiasm (even though the possibility is not farfetched).  In some churches the worship ensemble is there to lip synch.  Really!  They don’t know the songs either, but they can read off the back wall and make it look as if they do know them.  They reveal their shtick when they have to squint and the lip movement lags behind.  We don’t need to sing; instead let someone else do it for us--you know it will sound pristine!

Accompaniments are available electronically.  If you prefer piano or/and organ, you can have that.  If you prefer a rock band, you can have that.  Maybe you could even get it in bluegrass.  Nice!  It will be perfectly done--no wrong notes.  And if you want any special music to dress up the service--solos, small groups, choirs, orchestras, that’s available, also.

And we can even set up the giving so it is handled by credit or debit cards.  Don’t even have to pass the plates anymore or set up a box at the back.  We can do it with your smart phone.  Let the computer count it.

I realize I have focused on the church service usually but not always meeting on a Sunday.  I did that for a reason.  Some of you may think the church is more than what is visible Sunday morning.

But I’d really like to hear from you to know what you think.  Is the electronic church feasible?  With one significant expenditure (but nothing like paying real people over a long period of time) we would be set up, and we could be done with interpersonal problems.  So let me know if you think this is a good idea, the wave of the future, or whether it may have a shortcoming or two.

Now if only we could get someone else to attend church in our place, maybe even a robot.  I read that they will soon be available for all kinds of assignments.  Then we will really be set!

Posted by turbooster at 11:12 AM MDT
Updated: Wednesday, 30 September 2015 11:14 AM MDT

Tuesday, 6 October 2015 - 8:22 PM MDT

Name: "A. Rauch"

Thanks for presenting these good questions. Here are a few of my thoughts on the topic of the electronic church which I trust represents biblical truth or application thereof.

It is possible to accomplish quite a lot, as you mentioned, by means of electronics and software today, but these are only tools and should be used as such to support the true ministry of the church - carrying on the work of Jesus Christ until He comes again. The church has a lot of freedom to decide how to use technology, but it should never be the focus or reason we gather. We should desire to gather even if we do not have access to this technology.

A healthy church contains several elements. One of these elements is opportunities for Christians to interact with one another as we serve the Lord together. This interaction is so vital to build one another up in the Lord, to encourage one another, to deal with sin and pratice fellowship. Removing opportunities for imperfect people to be involved and serve is a mistake. Replacing capable, but imperfect people with "perfect" recorded music removes opportunities for Christians to serve and grow.

Electronic preaching can be useful for presenting God's word, but lacks the shepherding aspect of being a leader in the the church. It lacks the flexibility to address the needs of the church especially outside the Sunday service. It can also lead to false teaching in the church - if there is no one in the local church qualified to teach the church, then who determines whether or not the electronic preaching is biblical? Who is protecting the church?

The church is about the human relationship with God and the human relationship with other humans both saved and unsaved. It is important to work on these relationships which takes effort. Sitting back and letting technology do the "work" can result in shallow relationships both with God and others.

Intentionally avoiding the use of technology because it is thought of as evil or replacing everything with technology because it is possible are two dangerous extremes. The prayerful and purposeful application of technology to support the primary purposes of the church while promoting unity will vary from one assembly to another just as the skills and interests of the Christians will vary from one assembly to another, but the end result will be honoring to God.

Some people use robotic devices (e.g., electric wheelchair) to help them gather when the church gathers, but this would be one of but a few examples where a robot and the church go together very well. The church is about worshiping God - something a robot will never be able to do - no matter how advanced Siri, Cortana or OK Google becomes.

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