Monday, September 19, 2016

The Preaching Emmys

Last night was the 68th Primetime Emmy Awards.  I must admit that between holding a baby, flipping back and forth between football and looking for funny out-takes of Jimmy Kimmel who was this year's host, I was only half watching the annual awards show this year.  One fact did emerge from last night's show that I have been contemplating - that is - that there were 409 scripted television series last year - more than ever before in the history of TV.  And there are more platforms for these scripted shows than ever before (HBO, Starz, Showtime, ABC, NBC....).

One of the newest platforms for scripted television series is Netflix.  Netflix has not only begun provide content of other media outlets, but they have begun to produce content ("House of Cards" is the most famous).  The CEO and co-founder of Netflix, Reed Hastings, was recently musing on how much content was out there when it comes to movies and content.  He said, "The really hard part about putting out media content today is that because of the internet and so many other media outlets, you aren't just competing with one or two other shows, you are competing with every series, show, movie, and cinematic offering that has ever been produced."  So, for example, if you are looking for a show to watch on a Saturday night, it isn't just "House of Cards" and "VEEP" that is available.  You are competing with, "Gone With the Wind", "Star Wars", "ET", "Citizen Cane" and "Cheers".  In today's media world, the world is our oyster, and all options are open to us any night of the week.

As a pastor who preaches regularly in the modern media world, I have found the same is true of preaching.  When you are preaching each week in a local congregation, you are not just being compared to the preacher down the street, or around the corner at First Baptist or Grace Lutheran, you are being compared to every preacher that has ever preached!

Recently, as I was standing at the back door of church at Goleta Presbyterian, where I now regularly preach, a man came up to me and said, "I really liked what you said in your sermon Graham about 'God Being With Us' - it reminds me of a sermon I heard on Tuesday from Peter Marshall about 'God With Us'".  "Oh, thank you," I said, "were you a member of Peter Marshall's church in Washington DC back in the 1940's?"  "No," said my friend, " heard him this past Tuesday on the Web.

Another woman came up to me after this to say that she disagreed with a point in my message from the week before, that Joyce Meyers had recently preached and had offered the opposite view from me on a particular subject.  "Oh, Ok, thank you for that," I said, "I love Joyce Meyers.  Did you see Joyce Meyers in Anaheim when she was speaking here?"  "No," she said, "I listened to her on the way to your church this morning, I heard her right before you."

It goes without saying that we live in a world that is literally boundary-less when it comes to public media offerings.  And that media has opened up whole new inroads for church-goers who want to hear a compelling message on Sunday.  And I get it, each week, my wife Star and I attend Holy Trinity Brompton in London (Nicky Gumbel) on the Web.    

In some ways having so many options seems to have the tendency to dull our senses and our ears and hearts by the weight of sheer overload.  In some ways the plethora of media options and preaching samples opens up huge new inroads of possibility.

All For Now,


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