On Not Broadcasting a Worship Service (Lloyd-Jones)

Sometime during the 1960s D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones preached in the United States at a church that broadcasted the evening service on the radio. You can find this story in chapter 13 of Preaching & Preachers. At the end of his story about preaching at this worship service, Lloyd-Jones gave his opinion on broadcasting a service so people could listen at home. I thought it was helpful; I’m sharing it here as food for thought:

… I told those men afterwards that if I were the minister of that church I would not broadcast the evening service on the radio, but that rather, I would advertise the church in these terms: ‘the church which does not broadcast’. Why? Because that method, it seemed to me, would persuade the people to come out for the evening service. As long as they could sit at home and listen to it on the radio, why take the trouble to get your car out of the garage and struggle with the traffic and many other inconveniences? Broadcasting I fear has discouraged people from coming to the House of God and taught them bad habits. But even more serious is the harm it has done to the people’s idea of the corporate life of the Church. Far too often they think of churches just as places where you sit and listen to a sermon; and now you can get this on the radio or on tapes and so on. So the whole notion of coming together, and sitting together around the Word, and listening to an exposition of it, is seriously damaged. The very facts and statistics demonstrate that during these last fifty years the life of the Church, as such, has deteriorated very seriously.

I suggest, here again, that it is for us to break into all this. The motives which have led men to use these media have of course been obvious. They thought that this was going to do good to their churches, and that people hearing them on the radio would then come and listen in the church. I suggest that it really has not worked out like that; and that you are likely to find in the future that God will revive his work in the Church, and that it is those who attend regularly who are the ones who are going to participate most of all in the blessing. That has always been God’s way in the past. What is astonishing, once more, is that people do not want to do things in God’s time honored way. They are content with this detached attitude toward the Church it is a fundamental failure to understand the true doctrine of the Christian church — ‘the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace,’ the gathering together of the people of God. ‘Where two or three are gathered together in My name, there am I in the midst.’

Lloyd-Jones, Preaching & Preachers, p. 251-252.

Shane Lems
Hammond, WI, 54015