Is it Biblical to have a church where the Pastor isn’t present before the people to speak, preach, teach, guide, and shepherd? Is it Biblical for the church to gather and listen to someone who is somewhere else?
I ask these questions because it’s become sort of the norm for people to attend a church because the pastor.
I won’t call it wrong for people to gather and listen to a man preach from a device or over the internet. But I don’t think I’d call that a worship service. But before I dive into that, lets get into some of the fundamental and presuppositional issues that cause these kinds of questions.
- The Apostles and Jesus didn’t deal with the issue of today in regards with technology. Because Jesus didn’t deal with it, and thus didn’t talk about technology, we often think this is in the realm of secondary issues. Since we have electricity and can build bigger, and send information anywhere all around the world, it’s caused all sorts of questions.
- The second issue comes from the first, and that is: Just because Jesus didn’t deal with it, doesn’t mean we can interpret things how we desire. As in, just because Jesus didn’t deal with flat screen TV’s, doesn’t mean the use of flat screen TV’s is down to each persons conscious.
- The third issue is with our definition of the church, the gathering of the believers, and what ought to go on there.
This third one is probably the most central of them, but I want to deal with the other two first.
Jesus didn’t have an Ipad
Since Jesus didn’t have an iPad it would be wrong to assume no one should have one. Just because Jesus didn’t have the same things and privileges we American’s have doesn’t mean that we ought to feel bad that we have these. It would be weird and wrong to believe that the technology of Jesus’ day is the technology everyone ought to have and use. Our thoughts ought to be to follow Christ in the time and culture we live in, or the context in which we live. Not everyone was born in Rome, and not everyone needs to be born in Rome to be a Christian.
That may sound funny and obvious, but I say it because I once lived and thought under that premise. Just because I had these things it was as though I sinned. Just because I didn’t live in Jesus’ time, I don’t get to live like Jesus. So I say this because it is important to remember this as we discuss this. So we have Flat Screen TV’s, and we can use them because we don’t need to live in Rome to be Christians, and so we don’t need to deny the use of TV’s to be Christians.
So, in this time and age and day, what should we use Flat Screen TV’s for? I believe that is one part of the question. Do we use Flat Screen TV’s to have a man Pastor a flock 3000 miles away? Or do we use Flat Screen TV’s to project things and make things easier to see?
I believe one is a good use of the technology, the other is the wrong thought and use of technology. One amplifies and aides in something. The other use replaces something.
Now Jesus didn’t have to deal with this. But he did have to deal with large crowds and having little amplification of sound. He did have to deal with needing to walk and have his disciples search for him because they couldn’t call him.
Do we take these instances and say no Christian ought to have a phone because Jesus didn’t instantly communicate? I would say no. The reason being is that the Holy Spirit permeates and communicates with us. There is an instant direction by God, and we are merely taking something God can do and put it on a human scale. Communicate quicker.
But, does instant communication mean we ought to stop visiting and being around one another? Do we, because we can communicate instantly, then allow that to replace what Jesus and the disciples did do?
So how do we decide?
How do we decide, since Jesus didn’t deal with it, what we do with it? The tendency is to try to come up with ways that are not based in scripture for the use of these things. “Wouldn’t Jesus want us to communicate sound doctrine quickly? Wouldn’t the Apostles have used the internet to disciple their people? Wouldn’t Christ have used his phone is he had one?”
The answer to all is, probably, yea. But that’s not the question. The question is, how would they use them? We shouldn’t answer that question by taking vague concepts and trying to justify the way we use them, but by figuring out the things they did talk about and do, and then from there form our thoughts on how Churches ought to function, and then ask, how can we use technology for that?
Often, technology is a way to aide in growth. If something grows big, then we start using more technology. But I think growth should have been something we thought about. Not as in, we want to grow, but, how many is too big?
This is why the main issue revolves around defining the church and it’s function.
And that is something I’m trying to define. So I’ll write more about that later.