It’s been five years now since this blog first started tracking Bobby Schuller, grandson of legendary pastor Robert H. Schuller. You can read that 2010 profile here, or if you prefer something more recent, earlier this year on PARSE, I ran a link to this WorldMag.com story.
Even more recently, on last Wednesday’s link roundup, I mentioned that an abridged half-hour version of the Hour of Power is going to get a network run, albeit early on Sunday mornings; one that will focus on Bobby’s teaching, with the program title named after him.
I thought that was sufficient until alert reader and online friend Clark Bunch noticed that the Orange County Register story may have actually buried the lede. (Yes, it’s spelled right, see here and here.)
Apparently — nested in the tenth paragraph — is the news that no less than Joel Osteen has been teaching young Schuller the tricks of the trade:
In June, KCAL/9 started airing Schuller’s half-hour show immediately after Texas televangelist Joel Osteen’s broadcast. Schuller said he visited Osteen’s Lakewood Church in September to learn from the popular pastor.
“We’ve become good friends,” Schuller said. “He gave me some good advice.”
Osteen told Schuller to watch his own sermon with the volume off so he can observe his body language. Does it reflect the positivity of the message?
“I’ve also started memorizing my sermon outline so I don’t have to look at my notes much,” Schuller said. “It allows me to engage more with my audience. And I’ve learned from Joel to look directly into the camera when I speak. It helps me make a spiritual connection with viewers.”
Okay. Don’t get me wrong, I think body language could be important. I would hate for any would-be Christian communicator to be on television with awkward quirks that distract from the message. And I wouldn’t want someone representing my faith on national media to make so little eye contact that he or she seems dishonest.
Yes. Those things are important.
But in the online world, the last decade has taught us a little phrase that applies in so many aspects of communications: Content is king.
It’s the substance of your sermon that matters. In a particularly Christian context, that means good exegesis, and good hermeneutics. In other words, is the preacher parsing the text well? Are they interpreting the text through a healthy mix of context, word-study, and alignment with related passages elsewhere in scripture?
Then and only then, the other elements come to bear: a sense of humor, a gifted communicator, a unique message, a relevant application.
Joel Osteen doesn’t lack the latter, but there is much written online about a lack of substance and solid Biblical understanding.
I just don’t want that to happen to Bobby Schuller.