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Weekly e-Gram for members and friends of Dublin Community Church

June 19, 2009

He Took the Bread (Testing 1, 2, 3)

I had a friend who had a terrific Family Room in his house. The focal point of the room was the fireplace. Whether it was lit or not; whether it was summer or winter… the fireplace was a wonderful destination for the eye and one’s thoughts.

Then he bought a huge 60-inch Projection TV.

Then he placed it right in front of the fireplace.

I actually had two conversations this past week on the same day about the same thing. The topic was video screens in the sanctuary with song words and sermon illustrations projecting on the screen. No, nobody was asking us to use video in worship. The conversation centered on why some churches use video to project the words rather than use hymnals.

Nearest I can figure out is that some use video screens because….because, they use video screens. Those churches like to free people up from holding a hymnal. They want the words up overhead so that folks will lift their heads up and look forward; which they do. Then, they look at the video monitors.

This works for many churches. Very successful churches use video to capture the congregation’s attention. One cannot argue with success. But I will weigh in on why I have not bought into this yet.

I think the architecture of the sanctuary IS a part of the worship. I think the flow of the church’s architectural lines; along with its windows, colors and decorations ARE a part of the worship. A video monitor interrupts that flow of energy and spirit for me.

Putting a video monitor in a sanctuary is, I contend, like putting a huge TV in front of a fireplace. It is at odds with the intent of the sanctuary as a worship space.

When I visit people’s homes and the TV is left on, I find that the family and I are inexorably drawn to the screen and our conversation and connection falters. I find it easier to experience God in the surroundings of natural sunlight streaming through the windows and my thoughts mingling with the stained glass picture of Christ in the Garden and the angles and shadows of the organ pipes providing a backdrop.

“But, Bob, you’re not with it. You gotta be modern and into the new technology to capture the younger crowd and keep people interested in worship.”

Perhaps. 

But I download iTunes, which stream to my computer. My bankcard is automatically accessed to pay for it. I order Amazon books via the web. I rarely carry actual money, it is all debit card. I put Prologue and E-Grams on the web each week. I write my sermon on a computer. We view videos on a flat panel screen. I’m “with it” technologically. Besides, are we devoid of young families? Hardly. In that case, maybe we all DO “get it.”

And…we worship in a sanctuary, which is Feng Shui-ed. It is neither better nor worse than having a flat panel screen over the communion table…it simply is what works best for my understanding of worship, and hopefully, for yours.

Peace, Rev. Bob Tussing

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