Thinking Out Loud

July 1, 2013

Shame On You, Bethel Church

Bethel Church live stream

I’ve never seen anything quite like this.

So last night I was watching a live concert from Bethel Church when suddenly, my “preview hour” ran out in the middle of a worship song.  It not only ended abruptly, but shut down my browser completely — leaving me staring at my email program —  without even so much as “The mass has ended. Go in peace.”

Instead, I was told that if I wanted to watch more, I needed to put more money in the meter.  Or deposit more coins as in the public phones in the UK.  In this case they wanted either $5 or $3 unless I would be content with audio-only, which was a paltry $1. Yeah, they interrupted their own concert for the sake of a dollar. They could have at least kept the audio streaming while they held me hostage and begged for bucks.

Apparently, the concept of “freely you have received,” hasn’t touched this church. “Wanna watch our services? Then fork out your credit card.”  Sorry, guys, but there’s far too much available online for free that is just too similar to what you’re selling.

From what I’ve been told, even pornography sites are more generous with previews.

I know a lot of Christian websites charge for downloads, but at least you know where you stand upfront and you’re not caught in the situation of having something end in the middle. I am so thankful I didn’t invite a friend over to watch this with us.  That would be too awkward.

It showed no respect for the guest musicians, no respect to the songwriters,  no respect for the worship that was taking place, no respect for the viewers like me who had been invited by the guest musicians, and frankly, no respect for God, either.

I went back to my browser — which had other things open — and retrieved the above screenshot. It says they hope I was blessed. I was, originally.

Then they un-blessed me.

To others who were in the same situation: Any similarity between this church’s website and the teachings of Jesus is purely a coincidence.

Bethel Church website

Read more of this article by depositing $5.00 in that tray on your PC tower that opens and closes when you push the button.


  1. On Saturday nights and Sunday following church I would log unto shadow mountain community churches live webcasts. I especially like the Saturday night live service which is very youth oriented. And of course who can match Sr.david Jeremiah’s preaching? Alas, they too have now ceased their free live webcast unless you can send a free will offering to help defray costs. Yes the gospel is free. But the means by which the modern church uses to convey the message costs, dearly. It is unfortunate, but as the bulk of web viewers are believers, they should understand this and either be prepared to give or stop complaining.

    As a pastor I would dearly love to offer things free. And we do. The reason we can is because of the faithful giving of Gods people. From time to time we do find it necessary to hold an event where a small charge is levied. It never ceases to amaze me the complaints I hear from Christians who complain about paying five dollars to attend a gospel concert ( never mind five dollars does not even come close sometimes to breaking even) but will not hesitate to pay seventy five dollars to attend a secular concert.

    Comment by Ralph Juthman — July 1, 2013 @ 9:22 am

    • This didn’t surprise me in the least because just yesterday I was commenting that someone I know on David Jeremiah’s mailing list receives at least twice as many solicitations from him as the nearest runner-up among eight mailing list they’re on.

      Comment by paulthinkingoutloud — July 1, 2013 @ 10:09 am

      • It might also be related to the church being in a capital fundraising program to build a 20,000,000.00 dollars facility.

        Comment by Ralph Juthman — July 1, 2013 @ 1:00 pm

  2. So everybody is clear, this isn’t normal, there are some great free streaming video — or video on demand — sites available including Willow Creek (Bill Hybels), Woodland Hills (Greg Boyd), The Meeting House (Bruxy Cavey), Cross Point (Pete Wilson), North Point (Andy Stanley), Southeast Christian (Kyle Idleman), Mosaic (Erwin McManus), Brooklyn Tabernacle (Jim Cymbala), Saddleback (RIck Warren), and hundreds more. Free distribution is the norm in Evangelical circles, though there are exceptions such as Redeemer Presbyterian (Tim Keller).

    Comment by paulthinkingoutloud — July 1, 2013 @ 10:22 am

    • It is free for now. But all good things must come to an end

      Comment by Ralph Juthman — July 1, 2013 @ 1:01 pm

  3. I enjoy downloading podcasts of various teaching and one thing that I would like to see is paid versions alongside the free versions. I think it’s important and good for churches to offer content available for free, but for those who regularly enjoy the content and want an easy way to contribute to the church to defray the bandwidth and production costs, making an identical feed available as a paid service would, I think, provide a nice solution. People can choose whether they are just checking it out, or if they want to ‘participate’ in the ministry, much like the difference between passing the offering plate along versus putting some money in.

    Comment by Mike — July 1, 2013 @ 10:44 am

    • Good thoughts. I know that North Point’s Sunday feeds include the offering and at that point there is a prompt onscreen telling people how to give online. Some of the video and audio podcasts also have a message at the beginning, end, or both reminding people that these are faith ministries supported by contributions, not unlike their television and radio counterparts. That’s all good and fair, and I have, in the past, given to such ministries on that basis: I am enjoying the content.

      This was different. This was “Give now. Right now. Or you don’t get more ministry.” Can you imagine a similar situation if someone was receiving counsel in a pastor’s office? Admittedly, there are Christian clinical counselors who work on that basis, but increasingly (i.e. over the past decade) these are being moved into church settings so that they come under the accountability and support of a local church.

      Comment by paulthinkingoutloud — July 1, 2013 @ 11:20 am

    • Right on

      Comment by Ralph Juthman — July 1, 2013 @ 1:02 pm

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