Rhetoric And Homiletics: What Streaming Church Services Proves

See the source image  What Gives Us Hope That Members Will Return To Church?

Obviously, the COVID-19 has brought about a tremendous change in the local church ministry.  At least temporarily, most American churches have gone to streaming one or more of their regular weekly services.

Streaming is not new to many churches.  Churches have provided this alternative to its audiences, who could not attend for a variety of reasons.  Streaming was a popular option long before March 2020.  In fact, churches that purposefully reject this option, understanding how it played into the danger of actually lowering church attendance,  have had to reconsider, at least for this period of time.

However, now it is a typical requirement for most church attendees. Nevertheless, I would like to suggest that this mandated situation has proved something about “preaching and teaching.”  There is no replacement for personally listening to a message from an effective preacher-speaker.

Else, why not just go with streaming from here forward (No doubt that will be the thinking of some after these 4-6 weeks of watching online.)?

In fact, let me push the point I am making.  Why not swap out streaming, with reading.  Send out a manuscript of the message and/or Bible lesson on Saturday night and/or Tuesday afternoon, and skip streaming altogether (although some preachers-speakers-Bible -teachers might as well do that — just saying)!

“Now, come on!  That is ridiculous!” ——- Careful! — Are you sure?

What if it were a 1917 epidemic?  What would have been the options then?  Nevertheless, let me move on to the point being made.

“Streaming” a message or providing a manuscript may have a lot in common with public speaking, but they are different communicative art forms!

√  There is a difference between the art of writing and the art of public speaking.
√  There is a difference between preaching and “the flow of an audio-video stream.”

Today’s local church “sermonic streaming”
highlights the uniqueness
of the art of
public address-homiletics-preaching.

√  If reading a message manuscript . . . .
√  If listening to an audio-only message online . . . .
√  If watching a streamed audio-video message on a computer screen . . . .

. . . . satiated, this would be the time to prove that proposition.

Let me also say that the lack of spiritual satisfaction moves beyond the need of social fellowship.  While we are not spiritually satisfied because of a lost social interaction, what we are experiencing is not only that — and is far more than that.

Rather, streaming leaves the watchers with the feeling of a sterile disconnection with the speaker and the message.  That is because . . . .

    • speaking
    • verbal communication
    • the use of words
    • what separates us from all the animals
    • our creation as verbal beings

. . . . is a unique form of communication.

Our “created-nature,” our “God-like-image,” is the greatest hope of God’s people returning to the regular live preaching and teaching services of the church.  The fact that He is the Living Word provides great hope (not our only hope) for the return to gathering back together and listening to the preached Word of God.  Else, the church would be facing a real sea change in attendance habits, on the heels of this health and financial crisis.

The fact that He is the Living Word
and we were created in His image
provides great hope
for the return to gathering back together!

Preaching and “the flow of an audio-video stream” are as different as painting is from photography.  While they share some commonality, there are distinctly different.

They are as different as poetry is from prose.  While they share some commonality, there are distinctly different.

They are as different as taking an academic class online is from physically attending a live college classroom lecture-presentation.  While they share some commonality, there are distinctly different.

 

There is more to that feeling of an unsatisfying Sunday service than the social.  The unique changes which this crisis has produced have placarded how different “the flow of an audio-video stream” is from the art of public speaking.

The art of public address is more than words.
The art of public address is more than an audio-visual feed.

  • “Streaming-Church” proves at least one truth, that public address is a distinct art form.
  • The art of public address takes place in the space between an audience and the speaker.
  • The art of public address involves a unique number of dynamics that take place only between an audience and the speaker.

 

 

 

 

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