Ok, I know I should leave this one alone. I have discussed video teaching as a tool to reach people for Christ and to help people grow up in their faith in books, blogs and social media so there is really no reason to address it again. But my old friend (whom I've never met) Bob Hyatt has brought it up again. He is preparing to debate Larry Osborne at the Multi-site 2.0 Conference in St. Louis in September and he's previewing some of his arguments on his blog. Let me jump on two of his main points.
First Bob says that the video venue question is a biblical one. I have searched my handy-dandy Strong's Concordance and I can't find video venues anywhere in there. I don't know Greek or Hebrew, but the Bible seems pretty quiet on what color paper we print the bulletin on, whether we can use an overhead projector to display the words to the hymns or how close the speaker should stand to his audience when he speaks. (Inches? Feet? Miles?)
Paul did not seem to be a major proponent of the supremacy of in-person teaching (a phrase coined in the "seminal text" on multi-site according to Bob) He repeatedly asked that his letters be read (READ?) to different churches in different cities. So if reading Paul's letters (as opposed to Paul coming in person and reading his letters) is acceptable, how far down this slippery slope would Paul be willing to travel? Would it be acceptable, if the technology was available, for the church at Ephesus to photocopy Paul's letter and send a copy to the church at Galatia? If Paul had had a Flip HD is it possible that he would have simply spoken to the Corinthians while Sosthenes held the camera? Would there have been anything inherently sinful if the Thessalonians would have popped in a DVD of Paul on Sunday instead of reading his letter?
If papyrus was an acceptable alternative to live teaching, why would video be forbidden? If video would be ok for Paul, would it have been ok for Timothy? For Silas? What if Luther posted his 95 theses on YouTube rather than defacing the Wittenberg door; would the Reformation have been unbiblical?
Bob's second main point is that the medium is the message. That puts all of us in a world of trouble. When was the last time you read the Ten Commandments in the original granite? Have you ever tried to load the Dead Sea scrolls on your iPhone? Mediums change all of the time. The Guttenberg Press was a huge change in the medium. Xerox changed the medium. The internet changed the medium. Video changes the medium. The medium will ALWAYS change, the message never changes. The message is the Gospel, the medium is merely a vehicle.
Will video teaching have unintended consequences? Yes. Can video teaching be used to inflate already over-inflated egos? Yes. Can video teaching lead to a lack of development of preachers? Yes. These, however, are not medium questions, these are leadership questions. An effective leader does not hesitate at the gates of hell to study all of the possible contingencies before making a move. An effective leader will follow Paul's example and "use all means that I might save some."