Last week I shared six things I am greatly missing from teaching in old-school physical gatherings among people I love who are singing to God and ready to hear a message from His Word. When preaching to a camera, it can easily feel like I am preaching to God’s people without being among God’s people. And I miss preaching to them from the posture of being among them, of hearing them sing, of being able to look at them as they hear the Word, and from being able to hang out with people in between services. I long for those days again, but in the meantime, here are five things I am preaching to myself as I am preaching to a camera.
1. God sees “this moment” and “that moment” with equal vividness.
I can’t see the moment on Saturday or Sunday when people are watching in their homes, but God sees that moment. Because God exists outside of time, He sees the moment I am preaching to a camera with the same clarity as He sees the moment when people are watching in their homes. He can lead me in the moment I am heralding for the moment people are hearing. I pray to this end each time I am preaching in this season: “Jesus, you see the moment when people will watch this. Please lead me in this moment for that moment.”
2. Jesus is still working.
In John 5:17 Jesus stated the Father has always been working and He is working too. The room with only our worship and production teams is not nearly as spectacular and electric as our worship center filled with people singing and responding. Yet Jesus is still working. He has always been working.
3. He cares more than I care.
I care deeply for the people I have been called to serve and the message the Lord has given me. So, I can get frustrated that the current limitations don’t serve the message or the people the best. In those moments of frustration, I can remind myself that the Lord cares infinitely more than I do. He loves the people more than I do and He has exalted His Word higher than I will ever be able to. Because He cares more than I care, I preach to myself that He knows what He is doing and He is doing something good for His people.
4. God’s Word does not return void.
When Martin Luther reflected on the reformation, he wrote: “I simply taught, preached, and wrote God’s Word; otherwise I did nothing… I did nothing. The Word did it all.” The Lord has promised that His Word will not return empty, that it will accomplish what He pleases (Isaiah 55:11). As I preach to a camera, I remind myself that the Lord is taking His Word and doing a work I cannot see. But I can trust He is doing His work.
5. Jesus will keep building His Church.
Jesus promised that He will build His church and the gates of Hades won’t be able to stop it (Matthew 16:18). A global pandemic won’t be able to stop His Church. Gathering restrictions won’t be able to stop His Church. Jesus promised He would build His Church; He not burden me with building His Church. He is ultimately the Senior Pastor and the One really in charge of it all. I just keep reminding my soul of His promise.
Yes, I am ready to get back together! Those who have suggested preachers are enjoying this “down time” and aren’t eager to get back together have likely never preached a sermon in their lives. (And trust me, it is not a “down time.”) I don’t know of one preacher who wants this season we are in. But in this season, we are. And as we are, we can remind ourselves that the Lord is taking His Word and doing a work we cannot see.