Why John MacArthur Doesn't Want You to Go to a "Flatscreen" Church

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Editor’s Note: We share this video not to affirm MacArthur’s viewpoint, but to create a discussion around his perspective on doing church. Do you agree or disagree with MacArthur? 

John MacArthur: The Bible knows nothing about a pastor who isn’t there. How do you know a pastor who is 1,000 miles away?

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  • J Calaway

    Wow! I am not really sure what to say about this. I struggle with the idea of telling someone not to go to a certain church because of the style or involvement of a certain person within the church be it the pastor or or anyone. My concern is this perspective is based on technology and style rather than doctrine and theology. As for flatscreens in the Bible, I think they were called epistles. Paul would leave his campus pastor, timothy, titus and then would send them a teaching or letter that they would use to share the gospel with the people. The difference now is we have technology that can bring the letter or message to life. I’m not sure this is discernment but rather a personal preference on how to do church. I think I remember a few years ago the message was don’t be seeker sensitive or make those churches successful. Again, style and preference not doctrine and theology.
    My admonishment would be, don’t go to a church that is not preaching Jesus as the only way, and effectively training you to do the same. Don’t make them successful.

    • Dalia

      You should have stopped at “wow, I am not really sure to say about this”, and grabbed a cup of coffee, sat down, and listen to what the Holy Spirit is saying through this man of God. You really will be blessed. He who hears, let em hear!

      • Jim Harper

        I agree with Dr. MacArthur’s concern but I don’t believe it is worthy of his plea to not support or join churches with flat screens. On a personal level, Dr. MacArthur has been a huge blessing to my spiritual growth but sadly I am concerned that his position on flat screen preaching is more hurtful than helpful to the kingdom of God. Now – I can understand why someone might prefer being in the same room where the preacher is preaching. I can also understand the desire to have a relational connection between the pulpit and pew. But to me it is far more important that believers are hearing clear and accurate preaching of God’s Word in the context of being connected to a healthy body. I believe there are far more variations on how believers can come under the power of the spoken Word than there are variations in what it takes to be shepherded. Being a good preacher has more to do with rightly handling the Word of God (discovering and proclaiming the author’s original intent). Being a good pastor has more to do with dynamic connection between the pastor and his flock. Shepherding people demands a personal connection, visibility of each other’s lives, availability, spontaneity, and frequency of time together. I do not believe the main problem of the church today is flat screen preaching but rather flat screen relationships. If I am right, having the technology to expose a larger number of people to highly gifted preachers (less reproducible) under the care of loving pastors (more reproducible) can be a spiritual slam dunk. Thoughts or reactions?

    • Erin

      Great response, brother.

    • Rafael

      There are some of us who love Jesus but would hesitate to go to a church that preaches that Jesus is the ONLY way.

      • J Calaway

        Finally, This is the discussion we should be having. This is the core of why we are all here, to share with those who do not understand that Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life — No Man can go to the Father except through Him-John 14:6
        Jesus is the Only way, Only truth, Only life. All the other conversations, debates, criticism concerning technique, style, or programing pale in comparison and are a waste of time to this core issue-It is all about Jesus!

      • PrescottJayErwin

        Of course, salvation doesn’t come by loving Jesus, but by trusting Him, having faith in Him. As J. Calaway has reminded us, the Jesus Whom you love Himself said, “No on comes to the Father but my Me.” The question is, do you trust Him — do you trust Him when He says that?

  • D Beevers

    I have the greatest respect for John MacArthur and his scholarship. I have a copy of his bible and it is great. However, in this instance, I have to disagree with him. Flat screen churches have pastors. They simply use technology to send the best preaching possible to the churches within their domain. I totally agree with J Calaway about theology and doctrine being far more important than style and technology.

  • Wood

    I do respect John’s view on the flat screen church. I agree with his important statements also, but sadly it has little effect on todays culture that has gripped the church. Everything social is attached to a screen. His statements are very true concerning a Pastor of a church.Yet in a controlled socialism society it works well. Many people especailly a younger generation have been raised in a viral social society and dont understand the value of true personal relationships and can live with a 35 minute message and coffee with a few freinds its perfect in a viral world, yet it is not the answer for lost world craving for true spiritual relationships. We will see the effects of controlled socialism in the years to come.

  • Michael

    More and more I think we need to have a discussion about the root issue and not just the symptoms. What I mean is I see more and more people criticizing certain methods by labeling them unbiblical because they’re not mentioned in the Bible. I think we need to have a larger discussion about how we should read the New Testament, especially Acts and the Epistles, when it comes to church practice. What is normative, and what is simply descriptive?

    While certain biblical things like communion are definitely normative, other things aren’t. Do we still greet one another with a holy kiss as described in the NT? No, because that’s descriptive of their culture and what they did. And then there’s the negative – if something isn’t in the Bible, it doesn’t mean it’s unbiblical (against the Bible), but non-biblical meaning it’s not there. But that doesn’t negate it automatically. Church buildings as we have them are non-biblical. A finance committee or team is non-biblical. Even secretaries, as we have them today, are non-biblical.

    All this to say that as long as we just discuss the symptoms and never the root issue, I think we’re doomed to have groups from completely different paradigms talking past each other.

  • Randy

    I lost respect for John MacArthur when I watched him on a flatscreen totally misrepresent Rick Warren and try to rip him apart publicly. I didn’t think Jesus would have done that.

    I’ve seen the fruit of some of his disciples too; they have the truth of Christ downpat but the Spirit of Christ is a totally other matter. Like this video, their arguments sound good but fail because they aren’t based on truth as much as “facts” they distorted to fit their agenda. I don’t see Jesus in that.

    I won’t even comment on “Don’t make them successful” c’mon John (Not only is God a factor but their definition of “success” is probably the same as yours.) so that comment comes off as foolish and sounding jealous.

    Ephesians 4:3 (NIV) “Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” Disagreement can form the foundation of healthy conversations but start with an honest representation of the other person’s position (i.e. don’t present video teachers as the “pastors” in those communities).

    • http://www.facebook.com/kenneth.howard.716 Kenneth Howard

      A church should be family, The Bible says to know them who labor among you. To many wolfs in sheep clothing and I don’t know someone who might lead me astray such as Rick Warren. He’s ;not someone I want leading me to the cross. When you listen to Rick Warren you don’t have the Gospel preached to you. He has all these Muslim in his church and the doctrine he preaches is Jesus and Islam mixed together. He excepts there way of thinking just to have them in his church. John MacArthur teaches Bible and you can count on this.Randy, I read what you said about John MacAuthor.He most certainly did not miss Represent Rick Warren, as a mater of fact He told the truth about some one that is preaching a false Doctrine.If you lost respect for a Saint like John MacAuthur in short notice after he has written many books about the lord and About the life Of Christ. He tells the truth and has spent his whole life doing just that. For you to make a statement, I lost respect in short notice, I thinks it’s time you visited Calvary on your knees.

      • Randy

        Lol! I’m sorry brother, we will have to disagree about this, however, I appreciate the spirit in which most of your reply is written. I read exactly what Rick wrote and I heard exactly what Rick said; so I had an excellent basis of comparison for John’s “sermon” (from the book of Warren).

        I am someone who believes the bible is infallible, inerrant, and should be taken literally (unless there is good reason to take something figuratively). I have had “MacArthur disciples” in my church who spread lies about me and like you who knows almost nothing about me but you can call me to repentance. Lol!

        Even what you speak so confidently of about Rick Warren makes me laugh and cry because I can tell you, like so many, use others as your primary source material instead of listening to your brother himself.

        I suggest that you get Ricks DVD series on preparing sermons before you say another word about his preaching.

        I respect Dr. MacArthur for his commitment to the truth but I don’t respect how he tries to apply “truth” by misrepresenting brothers and tearing them down in public because too many people will take him as the gospel in areas where he is wrong.

        • Tyrone

          Rick Warren is one of the most dangerous people calling himself a “Christian” today. He is in bed with various religions, and is slowly leading his followers down a dangerous road towards a new age religion. I do not condemn him by what others say but by his own words and actions and writings from his websites. On his own website he has recommended books by emergent church writers which advocate labyrinth prayers and a whole host of new agey prayer techniques. He is friends (so he claimed) with the same man whose company prints Antony LeVays satanic bible (which also printed his book PDL), he belongs to a number of interfaith movements – where in the Bible do we see God telling his people to work with false religions. Saddleback ran a program called “The Daniel Plan: God’s prescription for your health” and of all the christian doctors in the world that he could have chosen from to work with he chose none, but instead chose three that advocate new age practices; such as reiki, meditation, kundulani meditation, one of these doctors practices Sufism and another co-wrote a book on tantric sex. Some of there books were recommended on Saddlebacks website, one of these that was continuously highlighted contains a chapter on meditation – this is by the same doctor who recommends that people do the Sa-Ta-Na-Ma kirtan kriya meditation. Warren works with Bono and claims Bono is a christian – Bono the same man that kissed Noel Gallagher from Oasis (tongue on tongue) and who has an alter ego on stage called Mr. Macphisto where he is dressed as horned devil. “Purpose Driven Life” is one of the scariest books I have read and can not understand how so many have failed to discern the dangers of this book. Scriptures are used out of context and if Warren doesn’t like a scripture he just finds a Bible translation that suits his agenda. He quotes many unsavory characters, such as new age doctor Bernie Siegel and Anais Nin, the famous writer of erotic novels, who also married two men and led a double life of deception trying to hide her extra marriages from both husbands, she also acted in one of Kenneth Angers satanic movies where she portrayed a goddess (the same director who made “Lucifer Rising”) – why not use similar quotes by Christian men and women. We are not called to live a purpose driven life, but a Jesus driven life where our main aim is to do the Will of the Father. Warren is not leading people to God’s Kingdom but is subtly leading people toward a one world new age religion. All you need to do is visit Warren’s various sites and read his own words to see that he is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Tell a person several truths so that when you slip in the lie he doesn’t notice – this seems to be the MO of many false teachers today. Today there is another Jesus being preached, a false Jesus, theosophy has been teaching about this Jesus for nearly 300 years and new-age teachers are talking about Jesus (or the cosmic Christ) more and more. Please be careful brothers and sisters – let no man deceive you.

      • Craig

        You are very uniformed about Rick Warren’s belief’s especially in regard to your accusation of his involvement in Chrisilam (Jesus and Islam mixed). Do your homework before you spread lies about another person. Please consider taking your own advice “For you to make a statement, I lost respect in short notice, I thinks it’s time you visited Calvary on your knees.”

  • PrescottJayErwin

    I was astounded at the practice of a megachurch in my area (20,000+ each weekend). We gathered a group of about 15 pastors to tour a new facility close to us. These folks have started a couple of satellite campuses and here’s what they do each Sunday: they record the service at the main campus, transport dvds to the satellite locations, project the service on big screens so eveyone is life-sized, and they simply replay the entire service — music and all. There are no live ministers on site leading in worship. The fellow who gave us the tour said that it works for them; they have thousands in attendance each week. I suppose they have active “small groups” that get people connected (he wasn’t very clear about that). Okay. I just know that I could never be part of that and I would never recommend to anyone that they become part of that kind of church. The “root issue,” though, Michael, has more to do with what a church is supposed to be. This just all reminds me more of a “1984,” “Big Brother” feel. But who am I to criticize? No one; I’m a child of the 60s and out of touch.

    • Dalia

      Such a hollow feeling attending a flat screen concert church. The proof is in the pudding, Christianity, and I’m talking true Christians, would never condone an absentee Shepard. Most young pastors have no idea what Christ and His deciples were about. They think they do, and they will come up with how productive it is, it can reach more people, Paul did it with epistles, blah, blah, blah. Garbage talk! You will have to answer for taking the role of a paster that you ordained yourself with. I’m not talking to you, Prescott, I am talking to others. I just latched onto your post. So I am not addressing you. I am as well astounded by what you described. And, randy, MacArthur does not need or want your respect. He works for God, not you. Plastic pastors, plastic Christians. Don’t you all care? It’s simply astounding! And before you all rag on me…..I don’t work for you either. And I never cared what wolves think about me.

      • debra roland


  • Dalia

    Pure wisdom. My sister came from Texas, and I invited her to greg Laurie’s church for an evening sermon. Lo and behold, no Greg, just a huge flat screen. We were sooo bummed. He’s not my paster, but every once in a while I use to listen to him. Don’t go to a flat screen church. MacArthur speaks from wisdom. Ever wonder why true Christianity is shrinking? As I have said many times, there’s no Shepard. Oh, there he is!!, where!!!? On that flat screen! PATHETIC.

    • Scott

      Seriously? You are mad because a man that isn’t YOUR pastor wasn’t at a church you don’t consider yourself to be a member of because you wanted to see him live and he couldn’t shepherd you on that ONE night? wow.

      • Dalia

        Yes, correct

        • Scott

          ok…just wanted to check the validity of your opinion on a church you aren’t a part of and doesn’t affect you in any way other than you didn’t get to soak in the celebrity you created in Greg Laurie.

          • Dalia

            No problem , Scott. God bless

  • Dama McKennell

    We are a ,”flat screen,” church and we are the campus pastors. We did church the ,”normal way,” for 25 years, and got increasing weary of, “one more funeral till we can have growth mentality.” We were weary of people praying to bring in the lost and then when they came rejecting them because they didn’t ,”look,” right! We started with 4 people, 5 years ago and now run over 500. We disciple men, women, and children daily! We reach an ,”unchurched,” generation who would NEVER enter a ,”normal” church. Our “flat screen,” legacy is lives changed by the power of the gospel of Christ. Last week we had cardboard testimonies, where 30 people shared how Jesus living in them has changed not only them but their families. They were set free by the power of God’s Holy Spirit from drugs, sex, addictions, illness. If you were to ask ONE of these families if they care that the ,”message of the gospel,” is delivered via the ,”flat screen,” they would say no.
    I think the apostle Paul would have embraced this media, not as a threat but as a tool to spread the gospel. As for doctrinal soundness, we actually have a doctrine, based upon the scriptures that is sound in the cardinal issues. No we don’t fight about pre, post, or mid tribulation, however; I have not seen anyone come to Christ based on these issues. So before you throw stones you might respond to the gospel and examine the fruit coming from the tree. If you don’t like the method, then use your own. The church has enough problems fighting the darkness, without having to fight other Christians!

  • Derrick

    Just a thought – regarding these “flat screen” churches – which I am very familiar with – I wonder if we will have the same option regarding Heaven? Multiple locations with God on the “Big Screen” – don’t have to actually go to heaven – just catch Him on the “Big Screen.” Just a thought.

  • http://www.facebook.com/kenneth.e.vance Ken Vance

    I find this entire discussion very sad and disheartening. How did we get to the point that Christians can spend this much time and energy discussing a non-issue? Maybe if we would put the same energy into loving the lost and trying to reach them the church wouldn’t be in danger of becoming irrelevant to our culture. Those who want to completely condemn another church over issues of style do great harm to the witness of the church. It might be noted that many, if not most, of the flat screen churches have local, live worship teams and a full pastoral staff at each campus. Preacher and pastor are not synonymous. The preacher might be on the screen but the pastor (the one who shepherds the flock) is a live, local human being. With all due respect to all involved this is a matter of personal opinion and preference, not Scriptural truth.

    • http://www.facebook.com/kenneth.howard.716 Kenneth Howard

      Hello Ken Vance, I hope you are following your own advise. How many Souls have you witness to in just the pass few days. I really find you can’t hug a flat screen TV like you can your pastor at the end of the church service.I have come to love my pastor because he is one of the fold and a flat screen is not in the same fold. We all need one another, and sometimes you need answers and you can’t get them from a TV service. The Bible says to love on another and not a flat screen TV!!!! Fellowship is good for the soul.

  • M.D. Shafer

    The most pertinent comment by Dr. MacArthur, and one I do not think can be refuted is his point on the physical presence of the shepherd among his flock. I think the point he was making is that absent the shepherd’s presence, a church member cannot truly verify that “his walk matches his talk”.

    • michael

      But the point misses another point. Even if the pastor is physically present, the pastor can only truly shepherd about 150-200 people in the way being described. John MacArthur doesn’t even measure up to his own criteria because he doesn’t know every one in his own congregation and not every one knows him. If the criteria is how much someone can know/be known, the true conversation should be about church size and not just physical presence.

      • Dalia

        And how do you know this? Besides he is available before and after services.

        • Michael

          Just simple reality of working in a church. There’s a reason a church hires a new person after about every 150-200 new people are added to a church. It’s because one person can only personally pastor that many people. Even if he’s available after church, he’s NOT meeting with every person.

          • Dalia

            Youre right, but I am talking the availability aspect of it

      • Erin

        I attended MacArthur’s church years ago (early 1980s) and it had about 10,000 members, about 6,000 on any given Sunday. It worked for that time in my life (25 yr old) I was anonymous, I sat in the last row and left right after church. I came for his teaching not for anything else. He was always clear that he was the preaching pastor and that there were other pastors (6-10) for everything else. Perhaps he doesn’t realize (or doesn’t care) that most flat screen churches have additional pastors/staff attending to the flock in that locale on a daily basis. It’s not really much different than his church, just split into smaller groups in several cities so people can be better connected.

        Willow Creek was the one of the mega churches who started doing more satellite congregations when they did their last building campaign of $70 million dollars in the 1990s and found out that families were driving 45 minutes to reach them. It’s a reality of today’s world. I get MacArthur’s point that the preaching pastor should also be the one who lives in that community, but for most mega churches, the initial attraction was to the main preaching pastor (e.g. Bill Hybels, Willow Creek). Perhaps the satellite congregations need to eventually become more autonomous and break off on their own. Otherwise they tend to become like Harvest, who identifies with Greg Laurie (they brand everything with his name) but doesn’t have him there all the time anymore.

        • Erin

          If they are adding 150 people EVERY month, wouldn’t they quickly outgrow their campus? Where do they put everyone?

  • Rick J

    I think John is dead-on with his point: the pastor of a church should be reachable, viewable, approachable, and part of the community he is a shepherd of. Acts and other epistles echo that model. Even Paul’s writings refer to the churches he visited and the pastors/preachers that were leading thise churches. We seem to be moving away from local churches and towards corporate-type churches, where the focus becomes numbers and activities and not communities and relationships. Of all Christ taught, the relationship between Father and Son, teacher and student, pastor and church is about the relationship, and you can’t have that when your pastor/teacher is not available to you.
    I am all for using every tool God has given us to preach His word and to reach the lost and sinning peoples, but I also believe these are tools to reach, not a way to feed or disciple. We have forgotten that there are two sides to the Christian equation: salvation (first) and growth (second).

  • Maria Andothers Abercrombie

    How do you know about the pastor when you have a mega church with thousands of members? Then there are small churches on every corner that do nothing to make people or the community better by sharing the good news or through deeds…

  • http://www.facebook.com/andrew.turner.3532 Andrew Turner

    I am the pastor of a flat screen church. We have a live worship band. I am there almost every Sunday and available during the week. How is this wrong? We have bible studies and small groups. People are making decisions for Christ. I know the flatscreen preacher very well and I know his family and how he lives his life.

    This “flatscreen” commentary is disappointing to even see on the church leader site. I look on here to be sharpened and challenged and this opinion question is worthless. Church Leader…your tag line is “Lead Better Everyday.” I am failing to see how this is helping me do that.

  • Pastor Chris

    AMEN! How on earth do we do “life on life” from a flat screen. He’s right on.

    • Dalia

      Amen… Only the discerning can see.

  • Dalia

    Satan has the world. Now he wants the church. How does he get in? He gets in the building via the undecerning Christians. When there’s no shepherd, he pounces. This is so clear. This is a sneakly wiley ploy of Satan. I can’t possibly conceive how pastors and the followers are blind to this. The fox and the hen house. Listen to MacArthur. He is wiser than you. He lives his whole life for Christ. Have you? He meticulously studies God’s word to feed his flock. Do you? To the pastors who encourages an absentee Shepard, I doubt you do. A sad day, when the world is getting dark.

  • Scott

    Interesting commentary from a man who is an airwaves pastor. The only difference between a “radio pastor” and a “flat screen pastor” is that I can see them on a flat screen. I’m fairly certain that Jesus was not able to minister individually to the thousands of people that followed him but he was still able to affect their lives. I do not personally go to a flat screen church but I know of several people that do. They are far more involved in their church than most people I know that go to a regular church. They are involved in small groups, they volunteer, they are community minded, they are taken with social justice causes. A person can lead a flock from a physical distance in this age of technology. Plus when a “flat screen pastor” preaches, he is preaching from a church with real people there. So it’s just another campus he’s preaching to. No different than your “radio ministry.”

    • Dalia

      MacArthur is the pastor at grace church in sun valley, California. So much for you being informed.

      • PrescottJayErwin

        And although his preaching and teaching are broadcast on radio, he never advocates that someone should make that their church.

        • Dalia

          Yes, thats true.

        • Scott

          So a pastor makes a church or the people make the church? From what I know, the pastor at my church shepherds his flock but even in a church of 200 people cannot make contact with every person every week ever. That’s why we have welcome committees, small groups and community breaks. Much like EVERY satellite church in the world.

          • PrescottJayErwin

            The Lord makes a church.

          • Scott

            The Lord is the head of the Church…without people, there is no body. Let’s be smart here. If there were no people, the Lord would have no reason for His Church. The Lord is the head of the Church but people make up the body. The Pastor is in charge of maintaining the structure and leading of the body in the LOCAL church.

          • PrescottJayErwin

            The Lord builds His Church (His Body) with people (many members) “just as He desires.” What’s your point?

          • Scott

            My point is that the pastor does not make up the church. The people do. The pastor is important for teaching and maintaining structure (as called out in the scriptures). So who are we to tear apart a pastor that does that differently than we are used to? Flat screen or not a pastor can teach and maintain structure however they see fit. It’s not unbiblical and it’s not dangerous. It’s just different. Our church is “successful” when there is REAL community created in order to grow the kingdom of God in a real and sustainable way. It’s unsuccessful when most people don’t give a crap about anything other than whether or not the pastor is available 24/7 to meet their needs. There is no basis for John MacArthur’s arguments other than it’s a style he is uncomfortable with. Just as people were uncomfortable with Aimee Semple McPherson when she started radio ministry 80 or more years ago.

          • PrescottJayErwin

            Well that’s just dishonest, isn’t it, Scott. MacArthur DOES have a basis other than style; listen to what he said. And we now know there were MANY other reasons for people to have been uncomfortable with the twice-divorced Ms. McPherson (Aimee Kennedy Semple McPherson Hutton) back in the day. She was a preacher and an evangelist, not a pastor and she did not intend to pastor a “radio church.” Your reasoning is lacking.

            In addition, the calling of a pastor is not simply to teach and maintain structure. There’s SO much more to it than that. I will give you that many “flat screen” churches may not be unbiblical, and they may or may not be dangerous (many traditional local churches are dangerous), and there are many other factors that determine how well such a church would do for a disciple of Christ, I’m just saying that I would never be part of a “flat screen” church and I wouldn’t recommend it to any one. Would I work against one in my community? Absolutely not. Instead, I would work to get to know the church’s actual leadership and build relationships with them for the sake of the Gospel.

      • Scott

        Read my entire post again and then talk about being informed…I’ll actually direct you to the last 4 sentences. I know that MacArthur preaches to a live church. I also know that satellite (or flat screen churches) typically preach to a live church. It’s then broadcast to another area for other people to hear/see. Radio and television have been doing this for years without the benefit of congregations in the areas they are broadcasting too…so why is a “flat screen church” an abomination? Oh, that’s right, it’s because we expect our pastors to be available to our every whim, sucking them dry for little pay. Let’s be a body and allow the body to minister in person to each other.

  • PrescottJayErwin

    I suppose all of this can be resolved when we have touchscreen technology for the big-screen.

  • newlife bournemouth

    so how do you explain pauls letters? he obviously wasnt there when he wrote them! God uses lots of people (thankfully) to write christian books to teach encourage and disciple us. Go with the spirit as he leeds and feeds.

    • Dalia

      Correct if I am wrong, but I believe Paul’s letters were read aloud to the listeners by a human mouth who was present. But….it could have been tape recorded.

      • Scott

        10 to 1 says he would have used Skype had it been available.

        • Dalia

          I’m not a betting woman. Kick the habit, tithe your money instead. Flat screens are expensive”

          • Scott

            Flat screens are cheaper than pastor’s salaries…just an FYI.

          • PrescottJayErwin

            THAT’s a real recommendation.

    • PrescottJayErwin

      Paul wasn’t trying to be the pastor to these churches — and especially not through letters. He sent and appointed people to pastor them.

  • newlife bournemouth

    while we think on whats in the bible note, clergy laity divide isnt! spectator sport listening to an expert isnt! specialised buildings after 70 ad dont arrive for 350 years! even the word bible is not in the bible. we must become all things to all men while not compromising the gospel. talking spanish in china will not see many saved me thinks. gracelessness is not a spiritual gift Dalia.

    • Dalia

      I’m sorry, I should have been holding their hands while I made my comments. Warrior up, it’s getting dark out here. If people come to Christ because of flat screens and cooooollll pasters, it’s a false conversion. To unbelievers i am graceful as I share the Cross, to the ones who should know better, it’s 2 Timothy 3:16

    • PrescottJayErwin

      You obviously missed the whole 1 & 2 Timothy and Titus thing. There certainly IS a clergy-laity thing going on there and there certainly IS the element of those who have devoted themselves to the Lord and dedicated themselves to the study, practice, and teaching of Scripture being listened to, although not as hearers of the Word only, but doers also.

  • Norm

    sounded like an infomercial to me :/

  • amos8

    Is it me, or does it seem like many, if not most, churches with “flat screen” services ALSO preach “community” and being “missional”?

    If so (even if it is just one church that does this) then do they not see a problem with this?

    • amos8

      … and I forgot… being “relational” and “authentic” … but perhaps I’m wrong about this.

  • vato

    A spirit of envy all over this message….Flat screen pastors…. don’t make them successful…. Wow who does this guy think he is? the pope?

  • http://www.facebook.com/tom.hurley85 Tom Hurley

    3 For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions,
    4 and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.

    • Dalia

      Tom, yes, that’s what I’m talking about. You’re spot on. And it’s coming to pass. We hunger and thirst for authenticity. I am so amazed how these screen pastors are incredibly blind to it. Demons are sooo subtle and clever. They use the pastor to take himself out of the way. The irony ot it! It’s an old trick, but extremely effective by man’s pride and lust. And the sheep, and we know why we are called sheep, follows behind with no brain to study for himself. No discernment, no insight. It’s so unfortunate when MacArthur warns, he’s called jealous. The time is here and now. This is a dangerous practice, and screen pastors think they know what they are doing, and moving forward rapidly.

  • tajupp

    John is dead on. Not all methodology is good. The absence of an a godly example is a huge problem. Now, I suppose the model could work OK as long as local elders took there place to lead, disciple and pastor. The guy on the screen can’t cause he’s not there. He is just the preacher/teacher. Maybe a great one. I read MacArthur, Piper or Spurgeon every week these guys teach me but they aren’t my pastor.

    • Jim Harper

      I agree John – that is why even though I can completely understand why someone might prefer being in the same room and in real time as the preacher. I don’t believe this is worthy of John’s admonishment to support or join churches with flat screens as helpful and could even be hurtful. I believe challenging believers to be a member of a body of believers that not only “rightly handles” the Word of God in it’s preaching but also employs other means of grace like fellowship, (giving and receiving the “one anothers” of the Bible), prayer, worship, the gospel, communion, baptism, and is under the care and oversight of qualified pastor/elders is to me (30+ years in pastoral ministry) much more important than live preaching. As long as the Word is being rightly preached, how it is preached is more a matter of preference than right or wrong. Again, I truly understand his concerns but to me if Dr. MacArthur applied his concern – his books, DVDs, CDs, and taped radio messages could be contributing to this “flat screen” problem. From a fan of John MacArthur – Jim

      • Jim Harper

        I meant …”not” support… sorry

  • John Sears

    I am often very conservative in my approach to “church organization.” I would not be comfortable in a flat screen church, but I think MacArthur is being too critical. Two areas to consider. Why does he feel that churches should put so much emphasis on the preacher as shepherd? Second, why can’t flat screen churches have shepherds who ARE present in the local assembly (who aren’t the preacher)?

    If MacArthur wants evidence of flat screen churches in the N.T., couldn’t we look at the letters that Paul wrote back to the churches he planted as evidence of receiving a message from a distance?

    • John Sears

      Let me flip the coin on my own post for a moment. I would have to say the biggest concern about flat screen churches is the immediacy of the message (which MacArthur suggests). By that, it is easier to see personal change based on a message lived out first hand by the preacher than through a message via video feed. I could also see where flat screen church “pastors” might also tend to have a celebrity feel about them. But I wouldn’t necessarily condemn flat screen churches as worthless.

      • Dalia

        They’re worthless. Give a little, that’s all demons need. Just a little….what’s the harm? To the blind and the ones who sleep…WAKE UP, the train wreck is coming..

  • Jesus

    With your attitude dalia and the way your responding and representing Christ even if you were right I wouldn’t want to be apart of your church or Christianity you claim to have…

    • Dalia


  • Brett Davis

    I think you are all missing the point here. I’m a pastor at a church where we DONT do flat screen ministry but I see nothing wrong with it. Why? Because as Andrew stated there are Pastors there leading and guiding. Pastoring and shepherding is a lot more then just delivering a sermon on a Sunday. As long as people are hearing the gospel and there are live pastors in attendance leading and guiding that site, I see no issues. You people are trying to give the devil way too much credit with your “satan is in the details” posts. We serve a mighty God who will use all means to bring the live saving message of Jesus Christ to this world. These blanket “Its the devil” comments are leaving me baffled.

    • Dalia

      Yeah, as long as people are hearing the gospel. That’s important. Church attendees, just stay home and watch the service on the tele, grab some fellow worshippers and make an afternoon of it. You don’t reaaally have to attend church anymore. You have your own flat screen and fellow worshippers and friends.

      • Barber Jim

        That actually sounds quite inviting Dalia. Most Sunday services don’t involve relationships as a rule anyway. We get together to hear a sermon preached and sing some songs, and we turn around to visit and everyone has hurried off to to nearest restaurant before you. At least in a home with a flat screen speaker you could pause it while you make a comment and fill your coffee cup.

    • Scott

      @facebook-1113027959:disqus -amen.

  • Kevin

    Is it just me or does anyone else think we should pray for these “CHRISTIANS” on here?

  • rdimpact

    Respect the opinion and thoughts. Do not agree with them. But feel like a 5 minute video cannot come close to discussing this subject.
    Now if the view Is “Do not attend if the pastor preaching is not live” period……….that would be a sad view.

  • bobsponge42

    One question for those who have the pastor giving the sermon via a video feed: Why do you have live, in-person music but a video sermon?

    Hint, if the answer relates to the pastor on the screen being so good that no one local can compare then we have a celebrity problem.

    • Dalia

      Lol! That is sooo true! Ha ha.

  • Jim Harper

    I not sure i need to say anything here that has not already been said. But I don’t think it has to be one or the other (preaching in person or on a flat screen). I can easily see why someone may have a righteous preference to choose a church where it members can be relationally connected to the preaching pastor. But I do not believe that this is an ideal that we should hold to so tightly. Can each member of the church in Acts 2:42-47 be relationally connected to Peter? What I do believe we should hold tightly is the quality of the preaching (honors what the Bible was intending to say) and that the church is structured to relationally disciple it’s members.

    I have a huge respect for John MacArthur but I think he may have an unwarranted concerned about the limitations of flat screens than the consequences of flat (no depth) preaching. He may be unnecessarily concerned about the delivery system of good preaching (flat screen verses in person) than the genuine need for believers to be in churches that disciple (relational – personable – application focused) it’s members.

  • Jim

    I read this post today, Good Friday, and finally had to stop. I could not help but think of our Lord’s intercession for us in John 17, His family, just prior to the passion events that we should be remembering at this time. I encourage all of us to read this chapter, pray, and love one another and not give satan a foothold. I am sure he loves the “infighting” ” John:17:20 ” I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one—as you are in me,
    Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe
    you sent me” HE IS RISEN, and coming soon! I bet we can all agree on that, I hope……!

  • 1bigbear

    “Don’t make them successful?” Are you kidding me? Are you telling me God cannot work through a “flat screen”? Lives are being changed in many “types” of churches. As long as the gospel is not compromised, reach whomever you can in however you can. This message seems to sound self-serving?

  • Josh Street

    Anyone else find it ironic that we are watching and listening to this on a flatscreen?

  • GaryColville

    Can you please pass onto John for his participation in this or he is simply a man shooting at others without responsibility.
    John you are an old fuddy duddy, not a hang of a lot older than me.
    There was a day that you were considered a bit radical and were
    ridiculed, with people using Scripture poorly, and the irony is that you
    want us to believe your ideas. As a Pastor and leader of Churches in our
    country I want to suggest that maybe you should stop allowing people to
    video you and broadcast your stuff as you are one of the people that
    created this environment for flat screen. Personally I find it offensive
    that you feel you have the right to stream into our congregations with
    some of the poorly thought through ideas you sometimes portray as
    theology. It is often narrow and lacking in the Spirit’s power. Please
    be humble and recognize that truth never constantly flows out of any of
    our mouths. I’m not saying I think flat screen Church is healthy at this
    point in time. There are some clearly unhealthy aspects in respect of
    effective body ministry and the lack of being in a community where one
    is shaped into Christ’s image by working together. It may be possible to solve these issues long term especially if say for example groups get together as ‘satellite groups’ with the screen bringing the best in materials together. This could work especially well for people living in smaller communities and unable to support quality teachers etc.

  • Robert P

    An observation on this debate is the scripture which says, “By their fruit you will know them”. What is the fruit of either of these points, the pro or neg. A church which I occasionally visit is a “flat-screen” church with a main campus and five satellite campuses. There is the main campus with a “teaching” pastor (just as McArthur call’s himself). Each of the Satellite congregations have resident pastors, worship teams and leaders. Their have their own service. At the time of the teaching/message their is a video feed from the main campus.
    Of the several churches which I am personally familiar with follow this format, almost all are either sending out mission teams each Sunday, or welcoming back a recent mission team. They are exploding with discipleship groups and ministry beyond the walls. Instead of pew sitters their members are mission people.
    I have for over 30 years used and appreciated McArthur’s scholarship and exegetical research. When traveling through LA one year tried to get to his evening service (had the wrong time and service was over by the time I found the church). However, his is a very negative issue. He speaks openly against anyone or any practice he doesn’t agree with, or more often doesn’t understand. As for knowing the pastor, how many of the more than 10,000 members of his church does he personally know!

  • denny johnson

    John MacArthur is a fine preacher/respected…..but, from experience, may be wrong on this issue….especially when he says “don’t support”-“don’t go”. He probably has not had time to spend in the pew of a Flat Screen church. So his experience is no doubt very limited in knowing first hand. Calvary Chapel in Boca Raton works. They have a lead pastor, they use a Flat Screen, people respond to the invitation and grow in small groups. Not everyone can drive to the “big church”. Nor can everyone in a big church get to meet with the pastor, know his kids/wife personally, nor see him in his quiet time. God and His son should be the focus…. perhaps not “on what media” is He presented and worshiped.

  • Granny

    MY PASTOR JUST CALLED ME FROM AFRICA( he is there for 3 weeks setting up a mission), TO BLESS ME, BEFORE HEADING TO CARE FOR MY DYING DAD. I have a pastor that is just that, not strictly entertainment. Paul in the bible was not aloof.

  • Kofi Obiri-Yeboah

    I live at Vancouver BC Canada and I do listen to Dr. MacArthur’s radio broadcast. As much as I respect him based ONLY on what I have heard him say on the radio, I am so disappointed by his level of ignorance when it comes to the tools God has put out there in the 21st century for his work. I will suggest he give up his radio broadcast and concentrate on preaching to only those he can physically interact with!

    • PrescottJayErwin

      Of course, your comment is made in ignorance. MacArthur’s broadcast is not meant to be a church or be substitute for one, his teaching and preaching broadcasts are not to be confused for pastoring. In fact, if someone were to be using his broadcasts in that way, he would say the same thing to them as he’s said here, “Don’t do it.”

    • cathcart boy

      Dr John MacArthur is absloutely NOT ignorant of communication tools available. Keep listening and watching. Glad to clear up your misunderstanding, my friend.

  • R Rice

    Could the same advice apply for those who only relate to a radio preacher or pastor?

    • PrescottJayErwin

      Yes, and MacAurthur would say the same thing about that. His broadcast is NOT meant to a church or a substitute for one. His preaching and teaching broadcasts are not intended to be confused with pastoring.

  • Soaring Eagle

    This is really a non-issue for me. As can be expected, there will always be disagreement. And thats the sad part, cause only the devil is happy with that. Mega Churches are a blessing. It is not limited to the USA. Where I am from, we also have megachurches (evangelical). Every mega church here have have at least 20 satellite churches. What. They do is they have an outline of the message for each Sunday and each of the Pastor in their respective satellite church presents his own sermon on the message/subject. There are times, that the most senior pastor does appear in flatscreens – but it is only occasionally and if the message is to be totally more congregational. There is nothing wrong with screen preaching. What is essential is that the flock congregates, sings, worships and listens to the teaching – whoever be anointed to deliver the message. I believe God is more interested on bringing the gospel to as many people – and He gives his pastor-servants the duty to do so using whatever technology and style for as long as the doctrines and truths are preserved.
    In this day and age, every form of technology and creatitvity must be mustered to bring the gospel to as many people, tribes and nations. Time is short. Jesus may come anytime. God bless and peace to all!

  • ounbbl

    I’m not sure what flat screen means quite well? prob. not someone on TV channel delivering messages from the Bible or hawking prosperity gospel. Or a mega church with multiple panels of monitors and mega-book speaker which forced me to plug in wet tissue to tolerate the sound level? Or a guy having name showing on the screen at the multiple crone churches? Anyway, the flat screens with all the gizmos and gadgets and programs and projections and tricks will succeed to please and attract the audience. Well they have large screen, but how much depth does it carry to God-hungry people? This generations trying to make people content in their comfort zone, while so many are persecuted around the world simply to keep the name of God honored. They are just being spoon fed with aspartame added bible verses with ‘heart-felt prayers’, while the whole society is going with flow nicely. Abortion doctor being an usher and his wife a choir member in a church heard about (Dr. Tiller, murdered). Was it a church of Satan or a name-sake Christian one? May God have mercy on ME! May God have mercy on United Sinful of America ;-< (Forgive my rambling)

  • Old Sarge

    A church is a body of flesh and blood saints assembling to worship and serve God. Each one deserves a flesh and blood preacher. Want to start a satellite church then give that satellite a pastor. Let him be on staff of the Momma church, but be careful. You are on the path to become the Evangelical version of Catholicism if you are going to play overseer or Bishop of the Caraway Seed Fellowship.

    I am 60 and I am as in tune to the social media and tools as anyone. I have a web site, a blog and I tweet and FB. The tools are fine, but there are some things that should not be replaced by techno-toys. I am a preacher and an IT Specialist for many years. None of my media stuff is meant to replace a real live pastor. There are some things I cannot do through the media. Will the people in the flat screen church really feel in touch with their pastor? Moses had to delegate and can one man really meet the needs of a mother church and ten satellites? Hardly.

    I can stay home and watch a TV preacher and later find a coffee shop or cell group for fellowship and send my tithes to a missionary. If I can interact with a real preacher then church is nearly frivolous. That is like saying that my head can bounce around where it likes and my body can send my hands one place and my feet another. A church is a local body and it needs all of its parts to be live and on-board.

    Indeed, some things can change, but the basics that are 2K years old do not need to change just because you can.

    • PrescottJayErwin

      Good word!

    • sunshine

      What does the the word “church” mean? What is its origin? Let’s go back beyond 1611 KJV…. back much farther than 402 years ago? From my study of Hebrew language, the word “church” is not found in the original language designed by Almighty LORD. Hebrew is a language that can never be altered or changed; unlike the English language.
      So origin of “church” is Old English meaning cir(i)ce, cyr(i)ce, related to Dutch kerk and German Kirche, based on medieval Greek kurikon, from Greek kuriakon (dōma)‘Lord’s (house),’ from kurios ‘master or lord.’ So literally the word “church” means circus. This may be a shocker for many folks. A most interesting study for sure.
      Origin of “circus” is English with reference to the arena of a Roman antiquity.
      So as my study goes, Mr. king james had no fear of endorsing change way beyond 2K ago (1611). We must question everything with boldness. YHVH made it very plain in more places than once “not to add to or take away from HIS WORD” ….. HE is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow…. forever!

      • PrescottJayErwin

        Well, we can see clearly, sunshine, that you are not a very careful linguist, etymologist, historian, or rhetorician. 1) You apparently don’t know much about the Hebrew language, just one of the Afro-Asiatic Semitic languages. There’s Ancient Hebrew, Classical/Biblical Hebrew, Mishnaic Hebrew, Medieval Hebrew, and Modern Hebrew, not to mention Hebrew as used in the Yemeni, Ashkenazi, and Sephardi traditions. 2) You apparently don’t know much about the English language, either — and especially not with regard to etymology. 3) Neither do you show any facility with Greek or Latin. There’s nothing in your response to be taken seriously in the slightest.

    • Mr. Gary

      Good points , supplement maybe not replace.

  • cathcart boy

    John MacArthur is correct in what he says. (However I’d say John is looking a bit weary here.) The life of the church comprises fellowship, not “events”. I like the idea of intensive training programs for church planting.

  • Pastor Tom

    Modern “flat screen” churches do have local pastors to “feed the sheep.” The benefit of using the flat screen is that the “Momma” church can prepare an impactive message with professional quality preaching, audio, visual, and music within a reasonable budget. The “Daughter” churches with local pastors and local small groups can discuss the message, answer questions, and minister directly to individuals and families.

  • Joe Rhoads

    For everyone on this particular blog thatis not a pastor, I respectly ask you to ask a pastor what his role is and the kind of responsibility and accountability God has on a pastor. They may help you answer the question regarding a “flat-screen pastor.”

  • http://redcliffecofc.org.au/ The Rev

    Whatever it takes (that’s moral and legal) to make the gospel known…
    if a flat screen works in your church… then AMEN!!!
    if it is weakening your church, then get rid of it.

    i don’t think it’s meant to be that hard or complex.

    • EyesWideOpen

      When John was talking about the flatscreen church, he wasn’t talking about a place that uses a flat screen, a congregation that watches the flat screen. He was talking about people watching TV at home, not connecting with other believers. It is NECESSARY to have our faith visible to one another. God’s power can reach down into anyone, although we limit what He can do in us. The word says to not forsake the assembling of one another, as is the habit of some,…

      • http://redcliffecofc.org.au/ The Rev

        AHHH!! ok gotcha… well i agree then… we need to be present with others in order to encourage and be encouraged. and yes i do believe there is a danger of people negating church for the lure of what i call recliner church (at home comfy with a ‘flatscreen’.

        • Mr. Gary


      • sunshine

        How many people make up an assembly? Is it 200, 1000, 5, 70, 2, 15,000, 3 or how many? And, must an assembly be in a corporate “church” facility? And, must the “teacher” be present in person or is a flat screen teacher “ok” for delivering the gospel? Isn’t made-up rules & regulations very much a Pharisaism doctrine?

        • EyesWideOpen

          Sunshine, becoming more like Jesus will never be like taking a self-help course. You’re right – it’s not about rules and regulations and adhering to the letter of the law. It’s about relationships. If you set out to “do life” at age 12 because you’d already learned how to live, how effective would connecting with your parents via weekly video messages be? As a new Christian, I thought I’d just add Christianity as a good source of values and information to learn. We can go our whole lives being a part of the “flat screen church”, believing strange doctrine that has nothing to do with being a Christian. You’ll end up being subjected to the beliefs that the preacher that you liked was teaching. What a bummer going through life believing in something that was wrong all along?

          If you’ve had a bad experience with churches in the past, put them behind you and look for a new place to connect with others.

        • Mr. Gary

          Have gifts use them to a TV

  • dan

    Pragmatism is the new church. The church is no longer about the gospel it is about the business. It should not be about whatever it takes but what is the truth of the word. The bible must be first and foremost and the holy spirit is the power. I agree with Dr. Macarthur. However I also believe that the mass of the so- called church is more like the book of Judges people are more inclined to do what is right in their own eyes. Especially because today sin and disobedience is more about the interpretation of men than of God. I fear for the future of the church but greater than my fear I must trust God/Christ the builder of the biblical church with its future

    • patsi

      Agreed. The Church is not a business,altho it seems to be in America.

  • Tim

    This is classic John MacArthur. While I love John and have followed him and his ministry for over 35 years and learned much from him, he does that which he criticizes most in others, proof-texting and taking a passage out of its original context to prove a point that he vociferously believes.

    • PrescottJayErwin

      And what text would that he be “proofing”? I’ve gone back and listened twice and didn’t hear him quote a passage of Scripture.

      • Dr Shirley

        Get it from the flat screen!

  • http://fbcdanville.org/ Tim Mathis

    I agree with John MacArthur on this issue. Entertainment has/is undermining the the gospel and the church, thus doing the same to Christ. Persons should join a church based upon what that church teaches and not visual effects, music (contemporary or traditional), the pastor (or other minister), or a particular program. The church is a fellowship of brothers and sisters in Christ, not the gathering place for a religious pick-me- up show and some pop style sermon to “tickle the ears” of those who will not accept sound doctrine.

    • lorifrank

      But what if the church is visually stimulating with lights and effects, has amazing musicians, great programs and pastors who are gifted speakers, AND very sound and balanced doctrine (by intricate design), social justice (woven into the mission of the church), and extensive missionary programs (to dangerous countries, not easy places like Haiti and Jamaica)? I was surprised to find there are a few out here and we shouldn’t throw every baby out with the bathwater!

  • Dave Ekstrom

    In my community I’m aware of two evangelical churches that have closed. They closed due to poor leadership although the good people there did the best they knew how. I am thankful that a megachurch has taken over these sites and will put in a flatscreen. However, as I understand it, they will have a campus pastor who will serve the needs of the people there. The advantage of these satellite churches is that it’s a lot cheaper. You can have a campus pastor who can do the admin stuff and a highly skilled teaching pastor on the flatscreen. That way a small church can have the best of both. You also have highly skilled leaders at “headquarters” who provide guidance and accountability for the campus pastor. Not the ideal but in the case of these churches, it keeps a Gospel witness open.

    Sure, the best thing would be for every local assembly to be led by a hard-working, gifted pastor who is supported by an open-minded, skilled board. But reality falls short of that sometimes.

    I don’t care for Dr. MacArthur’s dogmatic “Don’t go to a flatscreen church.” Things are not as simplisitic as that. Especially for inner city churches. Those churches are land-locked and often have no parking. Building codes and higher costs make remodeling nearly impossible, let alone basic maintenance. These days, hanging out the shingle will not guarantee enough people will show up to keep the door open. A pastor has to work really hard and really smart. But, honestly, most inner-city churches cannot afford that level of talent. A satelltite arranagement (flatscreen) just might be an essential tool to minister in the inner city.

    • Dr Shirley

      I agree with Dr. MacArthur It is impersonal and you can walk in and walk out the same way. Easy Religion!

  • deandeguara

    Campus Pastors represent the Lead Pastor well…it’s called biblical multiplication. Such a doctrinaire.

    • Dr Shirley

      Not the Pastor of that church and he may have that title but he is not the pastor just a money machine!

  • patsi

    A verysdad fact is that more & more churches do not visit the sick,help the widows,care for orphans,in fact,u could be dead & they may not notice,just keep on churchin! Pastor? He’s too busy for some one whose not big in the building. It’s just the way prosperous America has become,the church & the world r too much alike. Busy & prosperous

  • J Calaway

    The creepy part is that you would actually publish something that starts with “word is…” signifying this is purely here say or I believe another word for it is gossip. Let’s make sure we are keeping our focus on the right thing…winning the lost and not tearing down!!!

  • Dalia

    Like you just did to Debra? You preach to the lost, you don’t WIN anybody. Focus, focus, focus.

  • debra roland

    The “word is” that I spoke of came from Noble himself. Is that close enough for you? Classic cult leader.

  • Scott

    ouch…glad to know that you realize my level of expertise, wisdom, generational history, etc. The only thing I ever put down was his OPINION on “flat screen churches” because they are no different than radio ministry in my opinion. They both preach from a live church, they both are able to minister to a wide variety of people a long way away without making physical contact. Not much difference. In fact, I’d say the main difference is that a satellite church actually has HUMANS around them to interact with.


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