Thursday, October 02, 2008

Podcast spirituality

Twelve years ago I discovered that if you wanted to listen to sermons without a real preacher and real congregation present all you needed to do was to get hold of a tape catalogue and work out how much you could afford to spend (I was a student in those days).

Today, at the click of a button I can listen to a vast amount of material, from the cream of the crop, still without a real preacher or real congregation present, and all for free.

Twelve years ago my supply was limited by my finances, and thereby limited in its impact. It formed a tiny part of my spiritual diet alongside books, and listening to real preachers in a real congregation.

Today, the sheer volume of audio material available means that I am far more likely to make that a significant part of my spiritual diet. And today I am that real preacher in a real congregation.

The question is, what is this individualism doing to me?

Given that technology is reconfiguring our spiritual intake, and I take it that the benefits are obvious, how do I become aware of the dangers? What are the dangers?

What is this doing to local churches? Will this lead to an audio hierarchy where the best internet preachers are really the most influential figures in local churches? Is that healthy? Are we already there?

What does that do to the way we listen together week by week in the context of local church life?

7 comments:

Reformed Renegade said...

While searching for a church I found the internet a great source for teaching, preaching and encouragement.
Listening to or watching a preaching video in the absence a actual attendance was a great, but temporary, substitute. The danger when this becomes the accepted norm for folks who, whether consciously or unconsciously, ignore Hebrews 10:25. There is nor replacement for true fellowship with like-minded saints. Fellowship that includes encouragement from others and the watching of our souls by a faithful Pastor and the Elders. Just a few thoughts.

Martin Downes said...

...and helpful ones at that.

étrangère said...

Surely the same positives and dangers brought by the availability of Bible teaching in books affordable by the average person?

Anonymous said...

Its a shame that the reformed church we have been going to - this be in reference to the Pastor and Elders watching our souls - for five years now, not once have they ever visited or done their duties in the church or outside of it!
When the new elders are instated and the pastor reads the duties for the elders from his little book - I look at the wife and say "never happen" and I was right again. Its always the same thing in churches over the past 25 years.
So I have little faith in what they are to do and then will they do it.
And I find out that because of past influence in the church now - things are not done because the people run the show, etc, etc.

So I envy those who have a pastor that exposits the Word and lders that do what their duties call for.

All these excuses for why things do not get done are a lot of bunk.
We cannot go to work and get away with this attitude; why should we do so in church.
God's Word spells out what those duties are.
Read Murrays Bio on Lloyd-Jones and how he ministered in his church.
Amazing.

le Gallois said...

You raise good and important points, Martin.

I think that our corporate life as the people of God is a particular area of difficulty in our individualistic culture.

So the idea that "Public worship is to be preferred before private" seems utter nonsense to us.

undercovertheologian said...

Hi Martin,
I remember you writing a post on this subject linking into the interplay of the global and local church which I wrote some thoughts about here under the title of Spiritual obesity and logging on to church. I think this issues is at the same time a really wonderful opportunity and a serious problem so thanks for the ongoing thoughts and provocation!
Matt

Gary Brady said...

Quite apart from the issues raised I think it is sobering for ambitious pastors to realise that anyone who wants to can listen to the best preachers in the world. Trying to be brilliant is probably not a good idea then but being relevant to the peole in front of you and a help to them is.