I took a few days off over the weekend, and spent time with family. I didn’t even turn on the computer and watch the service stream. Back in the office today, I heard about a couple of interesting conversations from Sunday.
During the baptism service the weekend before we had moved one camera to a new location. Sunday morning the guys I work with had not moved it back yet. I think they were thinking about whether to move it or not. I had said if you don’t get any complaints, it would be fine to leave it in the new location.
Well, we did get a complaint, which I will talk more about later. So, as they were moving the camera back into it’s normal position, another man began complaining in a very vicious manner about this camera being placed there. It was an unwarranted attack on someone just doing what he was told. The camera stayed there, as it always did. And the service went on, and was captured on video for live web streaming and future broadcast and distribution.
The main complaint we got was from a woman who sits near the previous camera location. She approached the lighting booth in the back of the worship center, and proceeded to lay into our lighting designer. After she had complained for a while, our LD very calmly explained about how we use the images from these cameras to not only enhance worship through Image Magnification, but through broadcast, web streaming, and media distribution we can impact the lives of those who would never come to our church.
Her response floored me: “Well, I’m glad we care more about the people outside the church than the ones inside!”
Had I been in that conversation I would have replied (in a very nice way) that yes, I am also glad that we care more about reaching the lost than the comfort of those who already know Jesus. Every single weekend the images we record on those cameras reach over 100,000 people. When you add in the two broadcasts, the web streaming, and our DVD distribution we are reaching more than 10 times the number of people that can attend “inside” the church. Even if we held services every day we would never have 100,000 people coming to our campus during a week, But we touch that many lives every single week through media.
And we see results. On any Sunday between 10 and 20 people will come down for some sort of prayer or decisions counseling in the service. In the same week we will have 30-60 people call into the prayer lines.
Now, I understand that if things don’t happen in the “room” they won’t be translated through video out to the community. One of my main priorities is to make sure that the worship experience in the room is as technically good as possible. But if 15-20 people, who could move to any number of open seats, get annoyed by the presence of a camera that we can use to reach 100,000, they will just have to be annoyed.
If I have to compare the ability to touch tens of thousands of lives with the eternal truth of the Gospel with the momentary discomfort of selfish Christians, the ability to reach people wins every time.
This is really about maturity. Our society places convenience and comfort very high in the priority list. But our faith calls us to place a higher priority on building the kingdom. It is important to make the worship experience comfortable if we can, but we have to keep that in perspective. For me, the use of media to enhance and extend the ministry of the church is worth blocking a few sight lines, especially when there are many open seats available with better views.