Tips for Speaking to a Camera vs. a Full Sanctuary

When you speak to a camera instead of a room full of people …

… Preach the Word. Nothing has changed there.

… Talk about the crisis. It is on everyone’s minds. Some I saw avoided the very cause of all this. Probably in any text one point or at least an application could be directed to this present crisis, at least a little.

… Give hope and encouragement to trust the sovereignty of our Father and Savior. We don’t have to explain exactly how that works for the first time.

… Do not be as long as usual if your service normally goes over an hour. This might go against the intuition that says people don’t have that much to do sitting at home. But there are more distractions there, and more freedom to move around!

… Explain the cross. Every sermon should, and hopefully some unchurched people are watching the service and thinking about all this.

… If you heard Dr. Debbie Birx from the president’s task force call on millennials to help and support their parents and grandparents, and other seniors, you probably will repeat that challenge. It seems like such a good idea to include them in such a call.

… Talk about the pain some people are having, and going through. Identify with those who are most afraid.

… Smile at appropriate times. Be as personal and warm as on a normal Sunday. Or more so!

… Is there any point saying that that there are only eight or 15 in the room, causing a distraction probably for every listener? Instead just talk to the groups in their living rooms. You are having a personal meeting as well as a sermon.

… Look directly at the camera most of the time. Why not? And a few times, especially at the closing appeal, have the camera come in very close as you express your hopes for our lives because of the passage you have exposited and the Lord we love.

… Use familiar worship songs they can sing easily in their homes. This is not a day to teach new songs when people are scattered all over the area. It’s hard enough for some families to sing in their homes! Skip the light songs that are just feelings-oriented.

… Pray a well planned pastoral prayer that includes our nation and our leaders in the world. And those who are sick. (This might even get you into the habit of a pastoral prayer most weeks rather than the spontaneous lighter prayers while strumming a guitar. It is a great time to use P-R-A-Y for the prayer:

• Praise, when you pause to allow people in their homes to give sentence prayers of praise to our God;

• Repent or confess, when you take a quiet moment urging them to practice I John 1:9, and then give assurance of pardon;

• Ask, where you guide the home audiences to pray for someone they love, or ask God for His favor in their lives (and urge someone else there to back it up with a support sentence;

• Yield, where you lead those praying with you to obey the verses or concept of the worship service.

… Consider a brief (60–180 seconds) video message to your people a few times a week to stay in touch, tell them about church opportunities, assure them with Scripture, pray, and express love.

… Be careful about recording multiple sermons ahead of time, as some are doing. Developments every week will call for your comments or Scripture references.

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Knute Larson
Knute Larson

Knute Larson, an Outreach magazine consulting editor, coaches pastors for personal and church growth, and teaches D.Min. courses for Trinity and Grace seminaries and leadership for Moody. He pastored 43 years in Ohio, the last 26 at The Chapel, in Akron.