This Sunday I had my first experience of ‘multisite’ preaching. I got to preach the same sermon four times in four separate locations across London. The first one started at 10.00 and the final one ended at 20.00. Each sermon was 35 minutes long, and in total I spoke to over 700 people across the day.
This was my first experience of trying this, and I was a little apprehensive about how I would find the experience – physically, mentally and emotionally. By and large, it was a positive experience, though I’ve definitely observed a few things to do differently next time.
Over the past few months, as I’ve spoken to other pastors and preachers, one of the questions I’ve often been asked is why we are doing this live rather than ‘embracing modern technological solutions.’ I’ve always interpreted this rather odd phrase to mean live-streaming sermons, or pre-recording them and playing them back on a video screen.
Now there are plenty of reasons why I personally think live is preferable to these options (perhaps a post for another day) but as I’ve reflected on it today, it’s made me chuckle to consider the idea that ‘live preaching’ is somehow the opposite of ‘embracing modern technological solutions.’ As if live preaching requires no ‘modern technological solutions.’ Leaving aside all the technology we carted around the city to make the services happen, I relied on a lot of technology not available to previous generations.
So with my tongue lodged somewhere in the vicinity of my cheek, here are four vaguely interconnected observations from my first stab at live multisite preaching.
My day’s travelling involved: one bus, five tubes, one taxi (pre-booked, on the internet) and a total of approximately 40 minutes of walking, for which Google Maps was pretty handy, to ensure I was heading in the right direction! That’s a lot of modern technology.
Come to think of it, with all of that travelling, plus 140 minutes of pacing whilst preaching, I’d be fascinated to know how many steps I took over the day. I probably burnt off a good number of calories! Maybe next time I could use the pedometer on my iPhone and keep track. Except that…
I’ve learnt that it’s far more possible to regulate my energy levels throughout a day like this than those of my iPhone! I lasted the whole day, whilst the phone needed to be recharged on three separate occasions.
The iPad from which I preached fared better, though I did give it a short burst of power in the middle of the day. Choosing rest points on the basis of the likelihood of finding a power socket was somewhat tiresome.
I only used the phone as a timer whilst speaking, for the odd text, to check Google Maps once, and for an occasional glance at Twitter. Which makes me think that…
Bananas are better than Apples! I dislike bananas. Always have done. I don’t mind the taste, but it’s the mulchy, spongy texture that I find unpalatable. But I’ve heard that they are high in potassium and are great for a quick boost of energy. In fact, I remember someone telling me once that in a preaching class someone had asked the speaker for their top five tips, one of which was to eat bananas!
So I ate one, and I survived. It got me through sermon number 4 quite nicely. I found that regulating my energy through being conscious of what I ate and drank was a really important component of staying fresh until the end of the day, so in the future I’ll probably discipline myself to eat them when I preach (not whilst I preach!) Which makes me wonder…
How on earth did the Apostle Paul survive without understanding the ‘science’ of Superfoods?! I suspect he didn’t read health blogs, or have a nutritionist advising him of the supposed-benefits of goji berries and chia seeds. I doubt he weighed out his morning muesli and yoghurt, adding the precise number of blueberries to give him the optimum boost.
One can hardly imagine Jesus reworking his advice to his band of itinerant preachers: “When you enter a town and are welcomed, eat what is offered to you… unless it’s high-GI or full of heavy carbs.”
Yet somehow, despite not having trains, iPhones, Twitter, Google Maps, and presumably even bananas, the early church managed to communicate a message that turned the world upside down.
I enjoy technology. Modern technological solutions are helpful and should be embraced and celebrated. But the gospel doesn’t depend on them. Who’d have thought it?!