During the Coronavirus Pandemic, we’ve used a mix of Facebook, Youtube and Zoom to help people gather for prayer, praise and Bible teaching. Preaching for a Facebook or Youtube audience is a fascinating experience. You cannot see the congregation, your best indication of whether or not people are present and engaging is if they add comments or likes.
The one person you can see is yourself. Sat, facing you from your screen, mouthing your words back to you, your image holds you to account, reminding you of all the ways that you have failed, preaching your sermon back at you and challenging you to respond with your whole heart, just as you are asking your congregation to. It’s a sobering experience. It is an experience you cannot go through without a real sense of God’s grace. It’s also a useful one.
We tell new preachers that they should preach the sermon to themselves first. Before we can share God’s Word with others, we need to hear him speak to us. We need to allow the Word to disagree with us, to encourage, rebuke, correct. It is as God speaks to us and feeds us that we can speak to others and feed them with God’s Word.
The experience of facing myself on screen reminds me that I am not standing above the congregation as someone who has already achieved perfection. It reminds me that they don’t come to hear my own personal opinions. Rather, we are meant to come together and sit under the authority of Scripture.
When the virus pandemic is over, I won’t be preaching to my computer every week. However I hope to continuing preaching to myself first.