Preaching Approach & Meeting Times
Joe Leach March 2024

Video Preaching

Back in the Autumn of 2017, Grace Church had been a multi-site church for 5 years and had sites in Chichester, Bognor Regis, and Midhurst.  The question of how to conduct preaching in such a context has never been a straightforward one and at that time we had a model where the preacher would preach in Midhurst one week, then the same message in Chichester a week later, and the same message again in Bognor another week later. We had already tried multiple other approaches by that point and none of them were without shortcoming.

Crucially, we were preparing to launch our fourth site, in Havant and the staggered preaching approach we were using simply could not stretch any further.  As a leadership, we discussed how we would conduct our preaching across four sites and, with some reluctance and a lot of discussion and prayer, and eventually genuine faith, we started utilising video preaching in January of 2018.

We never felt called to, or were particularly excited about, video preaching in itself. We did believe God had called us to being four sites and so we had to think that through without compromising our values around the preaching of the Bible.

We have always acknowledged that preaching in-person is preferable over video preaching but God has certainly worked through video preaching over the years. And of course, it set us up very well for when every church would be turning to video preaching a couple of years later during the Covid lockdowns.

Here is a short video which is something of an homage to video preaching at Grace Church to make you smile. 

This approach to preaching in our multi-site context has always been under review and open to change.  In recent months, the simple reality is that I personally have found preaching to a camera increasingly frustrating and difficult and I have longed to be preaching to real people. And so we are no longer going to use video preaching in the way that we have been for the last 6 years.

So what then?

That is relatively easy to say but it leads to the inevitable question: What approach to preaching will we have in our multi-site context? The answer to that question is that it is going to require us to shift the times of all of our Sunday morning meetings in order to enable us to have staggered preaching. From 5th May onwards, our Chichester site (where there is less setup required) will start at 9:30am and Bognor and Havant (where there is more setup required) will both start at 10:30am.

At least every other week, the preacher (mostly myself) will preach in Chichester first and then travel to one of the other sites(which will alternate), and preach the same message again.  Someone else will preach from the same passage in the other site. On the other weeks, there will be a different preacher in each site, preaching from the same passage (as has already been happening for the last couple of years).

Some people may be happy about these changes, some annoyed, and many unbothered.  The point for all of us is to grasp the bigger picture.  Whilst we don’t tinker with meeting times for the sake of it, we also don’t want to be bound to times just because that’s what we have done for the last few years.

It’s been said many times in the life and history of Grace Church and it remains true that change is here to stay. But always with a view to continuing to do all we can to best enjoy God’s grace to us and declare and demonstrate that grace to our communities.