Since I was a kid, I have spent hours upon hours imagining new ways of being church together. The problem that church leaders run into is that the ideas we think are amazing, our congregational members do not like. That should really not be surprising. People who come to a worship service each Sunday like the experience and venue — usually many rows of people sitting looking at the back of another person’s head while we watch other heads on a stage who talk and sing to the people sitting in the rows. That’s why these “regular church attenders” come to worship each week. They like the experience! The problem is the vast majority of people who do not like such an experience, who do not come to worship or participate in a faith community on a regular basis. One of the chief complaints by these other groups is that they don’t like the format, it’s not interactive enough, they don’t want to be entertained or talked at or watch something for an hour.
My Senior Pastor, Steve Poos-Benson, is currently on Sabbatical studying the virtual church. He just posted some thoughts about SimChurch here. His thoughts about the virtual church have intersected with my own interest in online learning. Places such as Khan Academy are revolutionizing the ways that schools and teachers function. It’s places like Khan that get me thinking about the church and how we as congregations can function in new ways. What if the Church could be revolutionized by this movement. There are amazing preachers all over the world. What if we could get them all on the same site together (think TED talks for the church – or actually, think of literally streaming a TED talk in a worship service – now that would be awesome). Then, the pastors at various congregations could begin functioning in a different way. Rather than having to spend 10-15 hours per week (some spend more than this) on a sermon and trying to be an amazing public speaker, the new kind of pastor could unpack these “master sermons from master preachers” for their local context. Worship could then center on other worshipful acts such as singing, prayer, meditation, communion, celebration, and other liturgical acts while also allowing a pastor and the congregation to benefit from these master preachers.
In classrooms all around the US and the world, teachers are moving from lectures in the class and homework at home to a new structure where you watch master lectures on your screen at home and the teacher helps you apply the concepts with “classwork” rather than homework in the classroom. What if our congregations picked up on this notion as well? What if we began to have new kinds of pastors?