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Let's Go to the Tape

As churches experiment with preaching on video. What are we learning?

After a few minutes, you forget you're watching a video," the cheerful, thirtyish woman at the welcome desk says. In fact, everybody says that. In the Chicago suburbs. In Atlanta. In Minneapolis. In San Diego and Los Angeles. Everybody says you forget that the preacher is not right in the room with you.

"The test," says Larry Osborne, "is how do they respond when the preacher asks a question. Do they raise their hands when asked? Do they applaud a videotape?"

They do.

"Do they laugh in all the right places? That's what I wanted to know," Andy Stanley says. "And they do. Sometimes when we have a guest speaker, I go into our other sanctuary to see how the video is received. They laugh. They cry. And when asked to stand or to make a commitment, they respond just as well as when the speaker is in person."

Both Stanley and Osborne are pioneering the use of video sermons. Both preach live in one worship service and via video in other venues. Both declare the experiment a success. And both plan to ...

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