Our church history must not be forgotten, and by that I mean a church history created in North America at the dawn of the 21st century.

The National Institute of Biblical Studies surveyed 583 students between September 1980 and May 1981 to gauge the satisfaction with video training. The result:

  • Average score for Increased Bible Understanding: 4.18
  • Average score for Technical Excellence: 4.30
  • Average score for Speaker’s Effectiveness: 4.58

Several North American pastors were pioneering the use of video sermons in early 2000. They were grappling with how the audience would respond to this new technology. Did people react as a group when a preacher asked a question? Did they raise their hands? Did they applaud? Did they laugh in all the right places?

We have seen eight different types of video preaching in North American since then.

  1. Church on Television: Pastor Herbert Hanbidge Barber served as Senior Pastor of Calvary Temple in Winnipeg (Canada) from 1953-1997. In the early sixties, Dr. Barber decided to bring his church service to the television and in January 1962, created the show Faith to Live By. His church board had said, “If you can find the dollars to pay for this, great, but if it does under that’s it.” It became the longest-running television show in Canadian history. In that sense, Pastor Herber needs to be remembers as one of the first church leaders to embrace the use of visual technology.
  2.  One Church – Many Locations: Meetings in two or more locations at the same time, and sharing the preacher by livestream video.
  3. Video Cafes: Groups of congregations meeting at the same campus but at different times, with different worship styles, watching recordings of the same preacher. Larry Osborne, at North Coast Church, near San Diego (in California), coined the phrase “video café” in 1998. He contracted with Starbucks to supply coffee to the attenders. He bought tables and greenery to create the feel of a café.
  4. Satellite Churches: Churches with satellite campuses meeting in remote locations, watching pre-recorded sermons of the senior pastor.
  5. Preacher-less Churches: Independent congregations using sermons of another church; with their own worship band, pastoral care and programs.
  6. Siamese Sanctuaries: Andy Stanley looked at two worship centers built back -to-back with a live video feed from one sanctuary to another.
  7. Online Church: In August for 2004, Craig Groeschel, Senior Pastor of Life Church, based in Edmond, Oklahoma, had a satellite link built at the Oklahoma City campus that provided LifeChurch.tv, with the ability to send a livestream worldwide. Craig received criticism for starting an “internet campus.” Before the pandemic 3,000 churches where using the free Church Online platform offered by Life Church. By August 2020, 27,000 churches were using this platform.
  8. Metaverse Church: Life Church started a ministry in Second Life in 2007, a platform for virtual games in which people interact with each other using their avatars. On December 12, 2021, Craig Groeschel delivered his sermon in a virtual reality service powered by Microsoft’s AltspaceVR platform (altvr.com). You can read more about this at www.life.church/metaverse/.

H.H.Barber, Larry Osborne, Andy Stanley, Rick Warren, Bill Hybels, John Ortberg, and Craig Groeschel will be remembered as the pioneers of video sermons.

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