On Line Classes? Why Not On Line Sermons?

The economics of churches is not getting better.  Those branches which require seminary degrees need to find pastors willing to spend up to $50,000 for the training.

For young men and women, they are also at the age when they want to start families.  Some can not find churches while others find part time jobs with pay inadequate to handle debt and living expenses.

The entire enterprise, from seminaries to churches themselves, is paid for by those in the pews.  With membership projected to fall, churches will need to change the way they do business.

A lot of adjustments have been made.  Churches have combined and some have closed.

One economic model denominations might consider is the Community of Christ, formerly know as Reorganized Church of the Latter Day Saints.  This denomination uses lay preachers who serve for specified periods of time.

Another model I visited in downtown Winnipeg is a church who’s building was torn down.  An apartment complex replaced the church,  but a worship hall remains where the congregation now holds services.

Higher education now provides a large percentage of courses on line.  I have looked at on-line church services available now.  Some are so successful financially they are more than self supporting. Religion from radio and television have been a staple for generations.

I know some people who attend churches regularly will say the electronic medium will never replace the church experience.  In many cases, it will be the only workable economic model for religion.


Avatar of Jon Lindgren

About Jon Lindgren

I am a former President of the Red River Freethinkers in Fargo, ND, a retired NDSU economics professor and was Mayor of Fargo for 16 years. There is more about me at Wikipedia.com.
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51 Responses to On Line Classes? Why Not On Line Sermons?

  1. Paul says:

    Jon … books and magazines … there are so many wonderful things out there that can be read … they’re rich and full of insight … I understand some some Christians find a certain magic in mingling together … but ultimately we’re all alone with our god … without a crowd. Let’s read, think, talk with friends and counselors … eh?

    • Wanna B Sure says:

      Many churches, if not most provide on line sermons now. Churches and church groups provide on-line Bible study guides for use in group or individually. That being said, we all need community. For some, community can be on line, other communities meet at- – - public libraries ???? Others meet at churches. On line services can and do suplement physical communities now, and are well established. One individual can belong to several communities at the same time. Sports, hobbies, and educational systems are other “communities”. They all need to assemble from time to time, as do people of faith,- – - or non-faith.

    • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

      Paul 1:09 “Let’s read, think, talk with friends…”

      I’ve got it. Sunday mornings at Starbucks. That’s for me. :)

      • entech says:

        Jon, some people might like the “real” thing and so need the attendance.

        I can appreciate that I prefer “real” coffee, that is why I don’t go to Starbucks. :)

        • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

          entech 3:37 “I can appreciate I prefer “real” coffee, that is why I don’t go to Starbucks. :)

          The crazy thing is some years ago, Starbucks started selling their coffee in supermarkets in the U. S., probably in Austrailia as well. The advertising for this new availability inferred some almost spiritual element to drinking Starbucks coffee. It referred to the sense of community people experience drinking coffee–that drinking Starbucks has some higher purpose than just getting caffinated. It said more or less, “The goal of the Starbuck company has been to build community and so people can work together for the common good. Now, this can all happen in your home….”

          • entech says:

            OK, Starbucks were not very good with their market research, Australia learned everything they know about coffee from Italy, arguably the best coffee available. Starbucks have had a few of their shops close after a few weeks after opening in varieties of little Italy.
            You talk of the spiritual element of Starbucks, perhaps they are failing because there is a much bigger proportion of non believers in the population?
            :lol: :roll: :?:

  2. Henry says:

    Jon:“I know some people who attend churches regularly will say the electronic medium will never replace the church experience.”

    It won’t. Baptizing and Communion through the internet? Don’t think so.

    • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

      Henry 1:41 “Baptizing and Communion through the internet? Don’t think so.”

      Aren’t the drop or two of water and ounce of wine/juice symbolic abstractions? Doing those on line would just be a further abstraction.

      • Henry says:

        They are for you and thus meaningless for you.

      • Coon Rapids Randy says:

        “Aren’t the drop or two of water”
        A very interesting thought to ponder.

      • entech says:

        symbolism or transubstantiation, an unsolvable problem, a matter of faith. An example of one of the things a computer is inadequate for, still with a computer you can post and comment away with the same relationship to reality.

  3. Paul says:

    But aren’t we all alone with our God … we’re born alone, we die alone … meanwhile let’s make our peace, explore our issues, interact as we wish … and discover our God as we choose … but not necessarily in the presence of others … just my opinion. A little tolerance is good!

  4. entech says:

    “People come out of seminary and they can’t go to a little congregation where on a good Sunday our offering is $27.20. They have to service a loan. …

    Oh ye of little faith. The Lord will provide.

    Philippians 4:19 But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.

  5. entech says:

    About 3,270,000 results (0.18 seconds)
    The result when Google search for sermons online.
    You can have print, print with illustrations, audio or video.
    There is even a site called sermonscentral with its own search engine including a huge list of suggested topics.

    And then we have:
    Liberty University Online’s degrees are taught in a flexible virtual classroom environment, allowing students to complete assignments on their own schedules. Many of the undergraduate and postgraduate degrees offered by Liberty University Online can be completed entirely online using an eight-week delivery format with some exceptions in which a student is required to complete a minimum number of courses on campus.

    I think there is also something available on “life experience” or by coupon from breakfast cereal.

  6. Beau says:

    The communion of the Saints, in this time here on earth, is the precursor and picture pointing Forward to the communal worship of our Lord in Heaven for all eternity. Call it a dress-rehearsal, if you will. It won’t be done online or in solitude at that time…so community worship of God is essential at this time. It’s about what God wants from us…not what we want from him…or what is convenient or economical for us. It’s about worshipping Him and not ourselves.

  7. Wanna B Sure says:

    Matt 18:20; For when two or three or more are gathered in my name I am present with them.
    His presence, our response.

    • entech says:

      WBS, you really should use quotes around things like in my name

      • Wanna B Sure says:

        Oh my God Entech. There, feel aw betta now?

        • entech says:

          No just confused. How did I get into it?
          I was just pointing out that You said “gathered in my name “, even I know that that is from Mattie. Just trying to be helpful so that you don’t look the total egomaniac. :)

          • Wanna B Sure says:

            Mountains and mole hills. Oh my God Entech, you are so contextually diverse.

          • Wanna B Sure says:

            Slow day for you? No goals and objectives? Create a plot for Last of the Summer wine, and write yourself into it. You could be Foggy Dewhurst.

          • Wanna B Sure says:

            Entech; Your 12:49 was the question. My 1:04 was the answer. Matt 18:20 was the source, and there was a – - ; – - after “Matt”, which should have made it clear where it came from. You must have been just boared, (spelling intended) with nothing else constructive to do. “Who knows the mind of God”? (Not sourced).

          • entech says:

            Actually just teasing a little, I should have known better.

      • Wanna B Sure says:

        That’s with a capital E.

  8. Avatar of realist realist says:

    Call me cynical, but it seems that most churches put a higher regard on the number of people in the pew over any other alternative for satisfying a need for individuals to commune with their preferred version of a god. It’s all about numbers. Mega-churches with their thousands of attendees bring in tons more money to that particular enterprise than online fundraising although if online fundraising is your game, then money can be made that way as well. Churches are money-making organizations. Tax them like any other business.

    • Wanna B Sure says:

      OK Cynical. If your only exposure to “church” is what you see on TV, I can see why you may have this opinion. However there are many more rural and smaller churches in and out of cities that are far from the model you seem to despise. ( I too have a low regard of the megas and the TV ministries, as they have a primary element of entertainment and subjectivism. Much of it based on the business model of $$$. A far cry from actual worship.) Garbage in–garbage out. Your use of “most churches” would qualify a difference, but if you considered the difference between the two groups, (mega vs small), I believe it would be more accurate for you to say “some, or a few” churches put a higher regard on the number of people…”. Smaller churches struggle just to keep the doors open so they can worship/ respond in the manner they see fit. Numbers are only a factor to be able to pay for fuel oil, maintenance, and pay the called pastor a living income. No big money making scheme there. Even today, some farmer members give the pastor cleaned chickens or a quarter of beef, etc. at Christmas time, or thanksgiving, if they can. There are those I know ask the pastor not to reveal the gifts, for the sake of quiet humility. Not to say “I gave the preacher such and such”, in the manner of bragging. A far cry from the megas.

      • Avatar of realist realist says:

        Well, my exposure to churches is not just from TV. I do remember that the size of the congregation present on any given sunday determined the size of the “take”. These days, with people being asked to commit to annual donations, it probably isn’t as determinative, but nevertheless, more people means more money.

        • Wanna B Sure says:

          How many churches ask to commit to annual donations? I’ve heard of it, but there isn’t one church in my town or others around here that do that. Again you assume .

          • Avatar of realist realist says:

            I guess the Lutheran church must have done away with pledging. Who knew?

          • Wanna B Sure says:

            Never heard of it. Never had it, never will.

          • Wanna B Sure says:

            Budgets in my church are based on the history of giving and expenses, but no pledges.
            “One thing pledges can do is put a ceiling on giving for the individual”. (I heard that comment in regard to local non-church fund raiser pledges.) Why wouldn’t it affect churches too?

          • Wanna B Sure says:

            Re. “Never heard of it” vs “I’ve heard of it” from my 12:01, and my 8:53; I’ve heard of it being done in other church groups, including W-2′s. Never heard of it in my particular church. Just thought someone might see a contradiction, and jump on it.

    • Wanna B Sure says:

      There are many many smaller churches that have/are celebrated 100-150 yr. anniversaries. They struggled from the time the pioneers came until today, yet most survive. The life of the mega groups usually don’t last any longer than 25 yr, or until the leader leaves, or gets caught in a scandle. History is full of a boneyard of big starts, and quick ends of the flashy and noisy. The cult of the personality in most of these megas is short lived, as is the mega themselves. I need not name them, as they are obvious if you do a little research. For many of them, taxes were not so much a concern as was fraud.

      • Wolfy32 says:

        It’s ironic for a people that desire an afterlife and believe in one so strongly, that There’s a lot of emphasis on the wealth of here and now. Christ’s example was to give up everything and just go see what they could do for people.

        It wasn’t about taking in so much as it was about giving.

        When the churches give more to the community than they take in from offerings, that’s when we can start to see real miracles.

        It’s too bad that age may be dead though. I don’t have much hope that those miracles will ever come back into being.

        • Wanna B Sure says:

          I pretty much agree. What concerns me, us? is that those who follow the contemporary model are hearing a “different Gospel” than what is in John 3;16. As far as miracles, there evidently were primary miracles of the time. Today, miracles could/ should be considered secondary, (results) of , not a means of. Certainly not as evidence to believe. There were those at the time of Christ who asked for a miracle so they may believe, and they were denied . My faith isn’t based on miracles, so I don’t dwell on them, but on Him who dwells in me. Now that could be called a miracle. Not me, but He.

      • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

        Wanna 4:30 “The cult of personality in most of these meagas is short lived…”

        That does seem to be the case. Has not this always been the case to a degree, Billy Sunday, and the rest? Maybe none of them started churches, I don’t know.

        • Wanna B Sure says:

          Most of them WERE “the church”.

        • Wanna B Sure says:

          A good example is The Crystal Cathedral”. The man gets old, and it falls apart, in spite of the family trying to continue. No one hears any more of the Oral Roberts ministry. Benney Hinn won’t last much longer, Paula White ministries fell apart, TD Jakes is the star as long as he lasts. The list is endless. It’s all about the messenger. They make a lot of money, they blow it or bank it, then fade away.

          • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

            Wanna 6:31 Oral Roberts’ son, Richard, got booted because he and his second wife blew through too much money. Benney Hinn is asking for $2.5 million to pay “debts”, his son has been in some trouble. I think Franklin Graham will do in the Billy Graham enterprise–he seems full of himself and not too smart. Joel Osteen is a second generation in the business and seems very good at managing PR and money. All are entertaining to watch.

          • Wanna B Sure says:

            “… to watch and implode”. Osteen’s wife had an incident a couple years ago on an airplane. In time, in due time. You and I may not be around to observe it. They come and they go.

          • Henry says:

            Never heard of that until now. It is amazing what a little liquid spilled on the armrest of the first-class airline seat will do.

          • entech says:

            Who can say, perhaps more on the floor and less down the throat may have changed everything.

      • Avatar of realist realist says:

        “yet most survive”

        Seriously? Haven’t you seen the rural churches closed for the duration here in the upper Midwest? Just in my area, there must be at least a dozen that have gone under.

        • Wanna B Sure says:

          And where have they gone? Due to the virtual exodus of the numbers of people in these rural areas, they move to larger towns like Fargo, or the cities. Those that remain have combined with those who remain. The church that I go to has assumed all the members from a church that closed, and is in a joint parish with another. Our county has less than half the population it had just forty years ago. Yet the synod survives. The churches in Fargo in the same synod are thriving due to the fact that our children live in Fargo, and attend there. They have multiple services a week, as the church isn’t big enough for a single sunday service, and the education wing is bigger than the church sanctuary. They have to have three Christmas programs, broken down by alphabet due to very large number of everyone’s grandchildren. A lot of grandparents are in attendence since our children aren’t living where they grew up. yet they are active, and in attendence. And then one also must consider the smaller families which started in the 60′s due to the birth controll pill. A lot of factors must be considered, but the church thrives wherever the exodus leads them. The rural church where I was confirmed celebrated 125 years 3 years ago. They are as large, loyal, and active as they were 40 years ago.

          • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

            Wanna 12:16 “the churches in Fargo in the same synod are thriving…”

            I’m glad you noted, “in the same synod” because not all are thriving in Fargo. A downtown Lutheran church is planning to either close its doors and/or sell the building.

          • Wanna B Sure says:

            Which one?

          • Wanna B Sure says:

            Not one of mine. (I knew that already). Mabey they weren’t “inclusive”/ progressive enough yet. (Smilie face) That being said, center of town churches do struggle like many rural churches because all the new growth and people are on the edges of towns.

        • Wanna B Sure says:

          I have heard of a couple denominations that have specific churches that are in the habbit of requesting IRS W-2, and 10-40 forms submitted to the church to determine what their members should contribute. Do you know any? I don’t. If that is a fact, they should be ashamed of themselves. Are these the people you assume all others to be?

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