Sunday, March 16, 2014

The start of week delay broadcasting at Mars Hill Church and why sermons don't go online until every campus has heard a sermon

Some recent blogging and journalistic coverage has indicated that Mark Driscoll preached a sermon on, say, March 9, 2014.  Well, a history lesson from a Driscoll sermon in 2009 seems in order.  Here is a partial transcript of a sermon from back in 2009 that was where Driscoll, among other things, explained that he didn't have a side company for books.  But, more important for the infrastructure and scheduling of Mars Hill Church, Mark Driscoll explained why from May 2009 on there would be a week delay between the date that he preached live and when the rest of the church would hear the same sermon.  He explained it at considerable length in a sermon that never got a transcript.  But since Wenatchee The Hatchet has the sermon and the lengthy explanation by Driscoll seems relevant to recent coverage and blogging that may be completely unaware of this custom ... here you go.

Prophets, Priests and Kings
Trial: 8 witnesses from 1 & 2 Peter
May 3, 2009
1 Peter 5:1-5

starting about 5:30
This leads to an enormous change in how we do things. You may know that today we use satellite television technology where we live satellite the sermon to our various campuses but (you may have noticed, as well) we're on the Left Coast, left in EVERY way. We're over here on the Left Coast and on the Left Coast we're behind the other time zones.

So we need to find a way to sync up the sermon with every time zone so we're going to a week delay of the sermon beginning this month. Here's how it'll work.  I'll preach Sundays at Mars Hill Ballard as I always do.  We'll take the best sermon--and, yes, they're not all good. Some of them aren't good at all, and some of them, SOME weeks there's a good one.  Some weeks, you just take what you get.
And sometimes, you know, one sermon's better than the other. We'll edit it. We'll take out the technical difficulties, things that I said that could get me picketed, we'll fix it, for Jesus, and then we'll send it out to the campuses. They'll play it back and once it's played back at all the campuses on week delay THEN we'll put it online.  It won't go on the internet until it's played at all the campuses. And that's how it will work.

There are eight reasons for this. I'll tell you why.

Again, different time zones. To go to different states, potentially different nations we need a different delivery method.

Number two,  it does allow the bust sermon.  Currently over half of the church is on video. The majority of Mars Hill is on video, not at Ballard where I preach live. Going forward, if we attain our goal of reaching 50,000 only ten percent MAXIMUM will be at Ballard hearing the sermon as I speak it.  Ninety percent of the church will be watching it on week delay on video so I want to get the best sermon to the majority of our people.

Number three, campuses get a better preparation timeline. By getting the sermon in advance they can put together their music for Sunday, kids ministry, small group discussion questions, pastoral care and follow-up. Right now they have no idea where the sermon is going because I have no idea where the sermon is going. They keep asking, "Tell us what you're going to talk about."  I don't know! Preaching happened. That's how it works, I just go and sometimes they're having a really hard time putting a service and following it up and I understand this and that will help.
Number four, it's cheaper. Right now the television satellite technology requires a lot of gear that we're able to sell to turn some profit. It requires the renting of satellite time, downlinks, dishes on campuses.  All of this can be eliminated it saves, literally, over the course of our history, will save us millions of dollars. It's a big savings and it makes facilities much easier.

Here's what's happening. Our new campus which we're hoping to launch in Federal Way needs a facility. Olympia needs a permanent facility. Shoreline needs a bigger facility. And as we expand it becomes very difficult and limiting to do satellite. It requires a permanent installation.  Schools, community centers, theaters, they don't allow that because it's their building and they don't want the infrastructure of their technology adjusted in any way and rightfully so. By going to week delay it allows WAY more flexibility to use innumerable facilities and move quickly from one to the other.
Last few reasons why we're doing this.

Number six, technical simplicity. Right now it's like a dish on your home and your cable. If the wind blows hard and it shifts we lose signal.  Also, if it snows we have a real problem. We call them interns. We put them up on the roof with a broom and they're literally dusting off the satellite dish hoping not to fall off the church and meet Jesus prematurely. You can always tell who the interns are who do the short straw. They're the ones on the roof during the snow storms. This makes it more simple. It's easy playback technology.

Number seven, it allows translation and close caption. Right now I THINK my sermons are on TV in Korea. They translate the redneck jokes into Korean. I don't understand this.  Apparently there ARE redneck Koreans and what this allows, this allows us to translate to different languages and also potentially to do closed caption for those who are hearing impaired. It allows us
more flexibility.

Now this leads to the last question. Some have asked, "Why not do a Wednesday or Thursday night service, capture the service, and then play it back?" Couple of reasons. One, I travel during the week.  I've got book deadlines, media deadlines. It really would be a big imposition on the Ballard campus.  Additionally, I don't have as much time to prepare the sermon. It won't be as good and if I don't do a good job the majority of the church is stuck with the worst sermon. Also, some have asked, "Well, why not do Saturday night?"  And I won't. 

Driscoll explains that's family night at more length than seems necessary here.  So, there you have it.  Mars Hill Church has been on a week delay system where by the time the sermon goes up on the internet every campus has already heard it which means that the online publication date could be at least one week, if not two weeks', delay from the date at which Mark Driscoll actually did the sermon.  As noted in other blog posts here at Wenatchee The Hatchet, time was that a sermon would be preached Sunday X, rebroadcast to campuses Sunday Y, but the sermon transcript might not be available until Sunday Z.  Now it's possible MHC is getting faster about closing the gap between Sunday X and Sunday Z but it may be a potentially useful rule of thumb that whatever is advertised on the internet as the subject of a given sermon to subtract at least one, possibly two weeks for the date at which that sermon would actually have been preached live.

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