Is it possible that our generation could be missing out on all that God has for us simply by which spiritual voices we are placing the most value on?
Podcasts, YouTube messages, and online church services have exploded among Millennials. Recent statistics say that 54% of practicing Christian Millennials watch online videos about faith or spirituality. I personally listen to podcasts every week when I’m at the gym, subscribe to numerous faith-based Youtube channels, and attend and work on staff at a church that offers live online services every Sunday morning. And I love it all as I’m sure many of you do as well!
This is not a bad thing and this isn’t some “technology is of the devil” post trying to convince you to get rid of any forms of digital spiritual content in your life (PHEW, right?). I would like to bring to the light the potential danger of online spiritual content if not carefully monitored and properly valued in our own lives. Here are two areas that I believe it would do us all well to do a heart check on to keep us balanced and thriving spiritually:
1. Whose voice is the loudest?
There are so many “voices” that we are bombarded with each day. And if we aren’t careful we can begin to overvalue and esteem the wrong voices. This can be dangerous because:
The loudest voice leads in your life.
When it comes to the spiritual voices we allow to speak into and lead our lives, this is where things can get real fuzzy. You see at first there is nothing wrong with frequently listening to a “cyber pastor” (a pastor of another church you do not attend) to get fed spiritually. There are some really great pastors, speakers and communicators that are making their messages available online and who teach and preach the word of God well. The dilemma arises when their teaching and preaching (voice) is louder in your life than your senior pastor’s (or your church leadership’s) voice.
Here are some reasons why this is dangerous:
- It can limit what you are able to receive from your own pastor. If you place high value on a pastor you listen to via podcast, it can sometimes get you to devalue the voice of your personal pastor. Just because an online pastor is a good communicator or tells funny stories doesn’t make them any better than your senior pastor. Don’t tune your pastor out because you think some cyber pastor says it better.
- It can cause you to idolize pastors. Since we live in a generation who uses the term “celebrity pastors”, it can be real easy to idolize well know speakers online. We are supposed to honor pastors, not idolize them. Don’t place people up on a pedestal that God never intended for them to stand on. They are just normal people following God’s call on their life. Avoid over-esteeming them to the point where you worship them instead of the God that they preach.
- It can bring confusion in your life. Two visions equals division. It’s important to remember that often the messages you hear online are what God lead that pastor to speak to THEIR church, not YOUR church/life. The call on each pastor and church is usually different, which makes the body of Christ so beautiful. Be careful to not try and hook your heart to multiple visions otherwise you will be pulled in a million directions and left confused.
If you don’t have a church or pastor that you call your own, then check out my next question.
2. Are you planted in a church?
Online spiritual content is great, but it is only flowers on the surface (it can be picked and gone forever). But if you want lasting spiritual fruit then it would do you good to put down roots and plant yourself in a church. Check out this passage of scripture:
“Those who are planted in the house of the Lord shall flourish in the courts of our God. They shall still bear fruit in old age; They shall be fresh and flourishing”. – Psalm 92:13-14 NKJV
Do you desire to flourish? To be fresh spiritually and bear fruit that remains?
What’s the answer? To plant in the house of the Lord.
Notice the scripture said those who are planted in the house of the Lord NOT the podcast of the week. Not the YouTube channel of the pastor who dresses the coolest. If you are planted in the house of the Lord then the voice of the house is the loudest in your life. God desires for us to put down roots at one place of worship, under one spiritual authority, and to stay planted and faithful. He said he would give us pastors according to His heart that would feed us with knowledge and understanding (Jer. 3:15).
Again, let me reiterate that there is nothing wrong with online sermons or spiritual podcasts to help us grow in our faith. It’s the value we place on that content and how it can affect our ability to receive from the “house of the Lord” we are planted at that can be dangerous.
I challenge our generation to take an honest look at ourselves to see where we stand on this. Our senior pastor’s voice should be louder in our ear than some podcast pastor. Let’s be expectant to receive more from the Sunday morning message versus the latest and greatest sermon being shared around on social media.
I pray that we would stay balanced, let the right voice lead, and experience all of God’s best for our lives.
And when he brings out his own sheep, he goes before them; and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. Yet they will by no means follow a stranger, but will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers. John 10:4-5 NKJV