I’ve learned the hard way that the sermon is a communal activity.
Preaching to a camera in a room by myself is one of the weirdest things I’ve had to do.
It’s been a few months since I’ve been preaching weekly to a camera and I still haven’t gotten used to/accustomed to/comfortable with it.
There’s a lot of give and take that comes with preaching that I’ve always taken for granted.
The laughter from the congregation when my joke hits (which is all of them, because I’m pretty damn funny)…
The scowls on people’s faces when they disagree with something I’ve said…
The falling asleep head nod that takes over a handful of parishioners…
The utter look of confusion as nothing I’m saying makes sense or connecting with the other things I’m saying…
You should also know: the preacher can see everything happening in the pews.
We prerecord our services.
There’s always a sense of… incompleteness when recording the sermons.
There’s a desire to edit everything. Even though I do my sermons in one take — there’s a desire to edit: take out a longer than usual pause; edit out a few “uhs” and “ums”. Few times, there was a desire to delete the whole damn thing and find something Rob Bell did and say, “Today, we have a special guest, you may know him from…”
There’s no way to gauge intimacy or connection when preaching to a camera. It’s just you and the camera and the Holy Spirit, if she hasn’t bailed out you yet.
When I first learned that I’d be preaching weekly at the beginning of my seminary and youth ministry career, I’d make weekly trips to the local Blockbuster and the Hollywood Videos (remember those places?) and rent standup comedy specials. I was convinced that a sermon didn’t have to be so monotone or boring or lackluster. If you have something to say, people will listen. Having something to say and having to say something are two completely different things. And standup comedians prove that people can listen to someone say something for an hour and pay good money to do so.
And I loved the way these comedians not only commanded the stage but the way they told their stories from aggressive stage hawking like Chris Rock to the completely laid back one liners of Mitch Hedberg.
I tried watching popular YouTubers, trying to see how they do what they do.
And for the first time, I’m starting to understand that I am, indeed, old. Because, I don’t understand why some people are as famous as they are.
But here’s one thing that many of these YouTubers seem to share: authenticity. Sure, the authenticity for some of them might be manufactured — but you get a sense that you’re getting a real glimpse of how they think and how they are.
A YouTuber, I was not meant to be.
But perhaps I’ll need to be more serious in getting ahead of this learning curve.
I might be doing this a lot longer than I had ever imagined.
I’m always open to advice/suggestions/constructive criticisms on this topic.
Here’s our church’s Youtube channel. All of our liturgies are posted there.
And you can join us live on Sunday mornings at 10a (CST).
This is part of the “WRITE ON” series that I’ve been doing. Most of these “WRITE ON” posts won’t have any depth– it’s just writing for the sake of writing, so I don’t forget how to write. I tell you this mainly because I’m more focused on writing rather than editing so you’ll find more grammmmatical errors errors than normal. As always, thank you for reading!