I was in Seattle last weekend and visited Mars Hill Church - twice, in fact.
The first thing that I was not prepared for was the size of the building - it was smaller than what I expected and very plain. What is going on at Mars Hill is NOT about the building.
The second thing I was not prepared for was the lack of warmth. Nobody greeted me, nobody shook my hand. Nobody said "hello". I am prepared to state that (because of the demonstration that had been planned) it is very possible that I have no idea the stress these people had been under, with their pastor under attack for the Biblical beliefs that their church teaches. Being prepared for a demonstration that was only called off a day or two ahead of time, a visitor might have been warmly greeted on any other Sunday.
But I think it might be more than that.
The third thing I was not prepared for was the video-Mark. I did not know ahead of time that the 11:00 sermon was a tape of the 9:00 sermon - Mark Driscoll drives from one church to another so that he can preach at two sermons less than 2 hours apart, at two different churches. It was sort of strange (the video). The screen was at floor level and was life-size, so if a photo had been taken, you might not have known that it was a picture of a picture.
Looking around, I asked if there was warmth here. The people seemed like they had been taught to sing, but not to worship. No smiles, no animation (this was before I know it was a video sermon).
The sermon was not like I would have expected the real-life Driscoll to be - he seems a little (well, a lot) on the hyper side.
When asked, the sound guy said that Pastor Mark would be preaching live at both the 5:00 and 7:00 service, so I went to the 7:00 service Sunday evening.
I am so glad that I did! There was such a difference!
Raised hands, here and there, smiles, doors were opened, warm greetings.
Yes, the real-life-Pastor Mark is very animated while speaking - very different than the video.
After the service, people stood around in groups with coffee, chatting and being part of the community. The evening service was the Mars Hill I had expected.
My question is this: do people who intentionally go to a video-sermon (when the pastor speaks live right before and two other different times) go expecting something different than a person who goes expecting a live sermon?
What motivates a person to attend a video sermon when the real thing is easily available?
Is that what made the difference in attitude?