Thinking Out Loud

April 3, 2009

A New Solution to Transitional Times in Local Churches

A few months ago I shared my feelings about the transitional times that Evangelical churches experience when they are between pastors.    After writing that another handful of other churches in our province joined the list of churches presently seeking a new pastor.

In the last few weeks, I’ve been on the telephone and e-mail with various groups and found myself saying, more than once, “You’ve got a projector and you’ve got a DVD player.   Cue up a video.”

It’s true.   Pastoral vacancy periods need not be “down time.”  While I ultimately support the idea of “lay people” in the church stepping up, during such times, there’s no ignoring that some of the best communicators in the English-speaking world are available on quality DVD.

Now, Craig Groschel and Bobby Gruenewald and the people at have decided to make it official.   They’ve contracted a number of top teachers — most, but not all American — who have agreed to make their material available online for free to churches looking for a dynamic challenge on an upcoming Sunday morning.

videoteaching-dotcomThe service is called and while the website promised that you’d be downloading during the first quarter of 2009 — which technically ended a few days ago — they’ve released the initial teaching lineup and are collecting contact info for an update mailing list.

While the list is somewhat homogeneous at first blush — all are male, pastors of large (if not mega) churches, all in a similar age range — the list is not as homogeneous in terms of doctrine.   There’s some variety here for churches of all stripes.

In some ways, the site is a concession to what everybody knows smaller churches, cell churches, network churches and home study groups have been doing for years.    So why didn’t somebody start this sooner?


Hopefully Andy Stanley will toss in a sermon or two.   Ditto John Ortberg.   And Anne Graham Lotz.   And a few older guys.   And a few younger, up-and-coming guys.   And a few more women.   But not Beth Moore.


  1. great thoughts! we hadn’t heard of this site. i work for anne graham lotz and will see if we can find something to submit. thanks for the thought!

    Comment by carole — April 3, 2009 @ 6:37 pm

  2. Let me know how that goes. I’m not sure if the speakers are people who are offering material or if it’s by invitation only!!

    Comment by paulthinkingoutloud — April 3, 2009 @ 6:44 pm

  3. Admittedly, this an excellent idea for teaching purposes. Preaching, however, is a different matter altogether. I rather think that the role of a preacher is to interpret what God is doing in the life of a church. He or she puts into words what the Spirit is doing amongst us, shapes our understanding of God’s desires as uniquely manifested in our church and leads us to deeper truths about God, ourselves and the distance that lies between. That’s what preachers do – and their role is more akin to a prophet than teacher.

    Preacher, teacher, pastor – these are, I think, three separate and unique roles in the church. Sometimes a person will posses gifts in more than one role, but that seems to be quite rare.

    Comment by Rick Webster — April 3, 2009 @ 7:43 pm

    • …And that’s such an important distinction. A teacher can speak to the human condition generally, but can’t speak specifically to an individual congregation.

      In our Christian bookstores, I’ve learned that what’s taking place in one town — and remember here I am dealing with people from a wider variety of churches — can’t be assumed to be the same in a town two hours away. Each store is a distinct “market” because each town has a distinct spiritual climate and is subject to a unique mix of spiritual influences.

      Of course, multi-site churches will argue that each location has a “lead pastor;” and I suppose to some extent this is an attempt to address a potential liability.

      This is of course also an issue — even without video — in churches that have someone teaching who isn’t part of the day-to-day life of the people. I believe those office consultations, hospital visits and coffee-shop meetings are what earns the traditional pastor the right to be heard on Sunday morning.

      Comment by paulthinkingoutloud — April 3, 2009 @ 7:56 pm

  4. My father, a retired pastor, was called on time and time again to “fill in”. He never presumed to be the pastor but always used it as an opportunity to give good solid teaching. But this is a new age of technology and availing ourselves of the best in times of turmoil and transition, makes perfect sense.

    Comment by Cynthia — April 4, 2009 @ 8:44 pm

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