Tradition tells us face-to-face presentations are the most effective way to sell, motivate, and instruct. But the rise of the cyber world has challenged much of our folk wisdom about communication and influence.
Preaching through a camera is powerful and gaining influence. Yes, people still want a minister to take their hand and lift an appeal in prayer during a critical hospital situation; and yes, people still want leaders, like Bush on the rubble in New York City and Obama on the ground last week in Colorado, to look them in the face and deliver their message of comfort and challenge.
But learning to use the microphone and the camera are crucial to the ministry in the modern world.
I recently sat through (or talked through!) my first recorded Skype interview. I recognized immediately the power of such media. (It will be posted sometime soon, I assume, at www.churchnext.tv.)
Our AoP sermon videos have now topped 117,000 downloads: not viral, but eye-catching nonetheless.
My niece is the manager of on-line publication and distribution for the preaching of a well-known megachurch.
My nephew webcasts his Sunday morning sermons live and I have come to appreciate listening to these through my iPhone.
I have dabbled in the Twittersphere and am preparing to lead a seminar on how to Tweet the gospel.
In all these ways, this old man is learning the new stuff: the power and preference for new media for reaching an audience through electronic means and for seeing the enormous potential of speaking into a camera.
The Academy of Preachers will increasingly look for ways to blend this modern gospel strategy with the face-to-face, hand-to-hand contact that remains the fundamental point of witness for those of us called to stir up things for Jesus.