I follow several preachers on the Internet. I can’t really pick a favorite among them. One challenges me intellectually. Another offers encouragement on my dark days. Yet another draws me in with the practicality of his messages. They are all wonderful orators. They are well-studied and prepared. Some are downright entertaining. I love them all. (Side note: My absolute favorite preacher is the one I’m married to, hands down.)
But the biggest draw of my YouTube pastors isn’t their exegetical prowess or their affinity for alliteration. The best thing about these guys is that they live far away.
You may not know this about me, but I’m a bit difficult to pastor. (I can hear Ernie Radford with a resounding Amen!) I have only served under a few pastors in my relatively short lifetime, and I will not so proudly admit that I didn’t get along with any of them. Sure it’d be easy for me to say that they were pompous a-holes who thought they were better than other people. (Sadly, that really was the case for a couple of them.) I’d love to say that their walk didn’t match the talk. (Yep, that part is true for a couple of them ,too.)
But the truth might just be that I am naturally adversarial towards anybody who attempts to exercise authority over me. (That is definitely true.) I respect authority, in theory. I understand the hierarchy of the church. I know about the five-fold ministry model.
The best thing about Internet church is that it allows me to not have to wrestle with any of that. My YouTube pastors can look right into their cameras and preach me into a baptist fit. But none of them can look me in my eye, and say “We need you.” Or “you are gifted” or ask “when are you going to…”
The only thing the Internet pastors ever ask me to do is pray, or believe, and on occasion, I’ve been asked to buy a CD or sow a seed (send a check). And to be honest, there are days I’d much rather send a check than be held accountable for my actions, or lack thereof.
My husband and I were in a long distance relationship for most of our courtship. I don’t generally recommend that lifestyle for people.
But for church, it definitely has its benefits.
i know at some point I’ll have to deal with the drawbacks of Internet church. (The lack of fellowship and ministry opportunities, for instance are quite apparent, but for someone with slight anti-social tendencies like myself, even those sound like pluses.
YouTube sermons are not meant to be replacements, but supplements to the word you receive in your home church. That’s my legal disclaimer.
In reality, I know that brick and mortar churches (and flesh and blood pastors) are too much for some of us to deal with.
I am praying for direction, and searching for sermons on relationships on YouTube.
And every now and then I say good morning to the pastor of the church I attend… But not every Sunday, lest we get too familiar, and ruin the whole darn thing..