Most Americans still prefer a real-live preacher to a video sermon, according to a survey from Nashville-based LifeWay Research.
About a third (35%) say they only will visit churches with a live sermon.
Three in 10 say a video sermon won’t keep them from a church, but they still prefer live preaching. The same number of people say live or video sermons are fine. Less than 1 percent prefer to watch a video sermon.
“I don’t think anyone gets up on a Sunday morning saying, ‘Boy, I’d really like to watch a video sermon,'” said Scott McConnell, vice president of LifeWay Research and author of Multi-Site Churches: Guidance for the Movement’s Next Generation. “The fact that many churches utilize video sermons means other factors such as relationships, preaching approach, music, relevance and location can be more important.”
The sermon question was part of a telephone survey of 1,001 Americans, conducted September 6-10, 2013.
Video sermons are mostly used by multi-site churches, which hold services in more than one location, often called a campus. Those campuses frequently have live music, prayers and a local pastor, who does everything but preach.
About half of the estimated 5,000 multi-site churches in the United States use video teaching, said Jim Tomberlin of the consulting firm MultiSite Solutions. He said larger churches are more likely to use video sermons. Many large churches already project an image of their preacher on a big screen during the sermon. So when they open a new campus, people already are accustomed to seeing a video image of their pastor. That’s less likely to be the case at a smaller church.
“Small churches have a bias against video,” said Tomberlin. “As a church grows bigger, video gives them more options. It becomes a non-issue.”
Younger Americans are more likely to accept a video sermon. More than a third (37%) of those 18 to 29 say it doesn’t matter if the preaching is live or by video.
By contrast, only about a quarter of those 45 to 54 (24%) or those over 65 (26%) say they are fine with both options. (from LifeWay research.)