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Time to trade in the pulpit?

Wasn’t intending to blog today after releasing a cat amongst the digital pigeons yesterday.  However, having come across an alarming statistic in the Guardian today, I felt compelled to do so.  Apparently there are 35 hours of video material uploaded onto YouTube every minute. By my reckoning that amounts to a staggering 3024000 minutes per day – which would take over 2000 days to watch? Even if that statistic is open to question and the maths could be reworked – it is an astonishing figure.  In this world of high tech swiftly delivered video material, should the preacher just quietly pack up her or his pulpit and shuffle unobtrusively off into the wings?

You will not be surprised that my answer to that is a resounding ‘no’! There are numerous reasons, some of which will wait for another post, but here are two of them:

  • Vast numbers of those millions of minutes are people orientated – people doing funny, or clever, or courageous things. As long as people are fascinated by people the Bible-based preacher will never run out of raw material.
  • Much as we may love our videos – we are still hard-wired to engage face to face on the things that really matter. Reflecting on his experience of preaching at a student carol service, Krish Kandiah commented on the importance of eye-balling the congregation; ‘I changed the talk between the afternoon and the evening because of visual feedback i got as people listened to the talk. (something video preaching won’t ever give you ;o) ).

I’m a great believer in integrating visual media – whether moving or still, into preaching. However, they are no substitute for captivating speech. We need to hear the most important messages face to face – and that is something which no amount of video-goggling (or was that googling) will ever replace.

Richard Littledale

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