The danger of the live simulcast

gathering-graphicYou might have noticed a growing trend. More churches are hosting live simulcasts, featuring big-name Christian speakers, like one coming up Wednesday, called The Gathering 2016. There are a lot of reasons why they’re popular, which I’ll address below. But despite the popularity of the simulcast, churches need to be aware of a particular danger before they decide to host one of these events.

The Appeal

 A desire to be part of something big

When you view an event that’s being viewed in the same moment by churches across the nation–Baptist churches, charismatic churches, non-denominational churches, black churches, white churches, urban churches and rural churches–you feel like you’re participating in the larger body of Christ. Such ecumenism is refreshing to people who feel like they have little interaction with believers outside their own denomination or demographic. Priscilla Shirer’s marketing materials tap into this desire to be part of something big, when they describe one of her simulcasts as a “global Bible-teaching event.”

A desire to be part of a “now thing”

There’s an urgency to a simulcast since it’s broadcast live. Watching it after the event has passed doesn’t have the same energy as watching it in real time. The urgency is compounded when the promotional materials have prophetic overtones. In other words, the speakers are often presented as delivering a special message from God for exactly that moment in time and that specific audience. See, for example, this advertisement for a Beth Moore simulcast held last week. It says, “she follows the leading of the Holy Spirit to prepare a specific message for each of her events” and that she “brings a fresh word from God to each Living Proof Live event.” Who wants to miss out on what God is saying now?

A desire to be part of something cool

Simulcasts, which make use of the newest technology, have a cool factor. The church that hosts a live simulcast is a church that’s not out of touch with today’s culture, but rather is relevant and edgy.

These are some reasons people are drawn to a simulcast. And they’re not all bad. A desire for true Christian unity is a good thing. Making use of technology to reach the culture with the Christian message is wise.

So what’s the big deal?

The Danger

In short, hosting a simulcast is like writing a blank check. There’s no way to know for certain who’s going to speak and what they’re going to say.  While you may know who the featured speakers are supposed to be, and generally which topics they plan to address, you don’t necessarily know everyone who’s going to take the platform or exactly what they’re going to say. In other words, there’s no way to preview the teaching to see if it’s biblically sound. Yet a church that hosts a simulcast is going to be seen as endorsing every word that’s said and every teacher who’s teaching. This seems unnecessarily risky. Even the television networks have had to learn over the years to build in a time delay–to give their censors time to act when there’s shocking language or a wardrobe malfunction.

Some might object to my concern by saying, if you know certain speakers, you can be pretty confident they’re going to bring sound teaching. To which I respond, yes, you may have more confidence in specific teachers. But some of the simulcasts feature large lineups of speakers, representing numerous different churches and organizations. Just because some of the teachers are biblically sound doesn’t mean they all are sound or that they all share the same agendas.

Case in point. Among the speakers who will be featured at The Gathering this Wednesday are at least two with ties to the New Apostolic Reformation. Rev. Samuel “Sammy” Rodriguez (head of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Council) is a former member of the International Coalition of Apostles (now called the International Coalition of Apostolic Leaders). Rodriguez is also a former co-founder and vice president of NAR prophet Rick Joyner’s Oak Initiative. And Bishop Harry Jackson has sat on the Apostolic Council of Prophetic Elders–probably the most prominent network of prophets in the NAR. Jackson’s other close ties with NAR leaders are documented here.

Besides featuring speakers with NAR ties, The Gathering has another NAR association. The physical location where the event will be held–Gateway Church in Southlake, Texas–has the earmarks of a NAR church. Yet how many churches taking part in The Gathering know of the sponsoring church’s apparent NAR beliefs and practices? Most of them are probably just excited about hearing Kay Arthur and Ronnie Floyd and other more mainstream evangelicals speak–and are unaware of what other teachings and agendas may be smuggled into this simulcast.

Just say no … to the live simulcast

I imagine it could be difficult for a church to say no to hosting a simulcast. Pastors may be pressured by people in their churches to take part in these live events. Perhaps pastors know that if they don’t agree to host a specific simulcast, some of their people will go to the church down the street that does. But if you’re a pastor, consider what the Bible has to say about your role as a shepherd. The job of a shepherd is, among other things, to protect the flock from harm and to feed them with nourishing food. You should never feel compelled to feature unknown teaching. If you do decide to show a simulcast to your church, you might want to at least preview the content first and show a recording of it after it has been broadcast–not live.

It may lose some of the appeal. But you will protect your flock from potentially harmful teachings

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Holly Pivec is the co-author of A New Apostolic Reformation?: A Biblical Response to a Worldwide Movement and God’s Super-Apostles: Encountering the Worldwide Prophets and Apostles Movement. She has a master’s degree in Christian apologetics from Biola University.

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2 Responses to “The danger of the live simulcast”

  1. Jordan Says:

    Hi Holly, I have been trying to warn other believers about the desire for  since late 2000. I noticed that many local big names here in Australia were wedding themselves to big name ministries abroad.  Over time, I have come to conclude that those whom I thought were mature and spiritual have turned out to be shallow, prideful and legalistic. They have joined themselves to big names in order to badge their own ministries so as to have the appearance of success and credibility. The Churches and movements to which they subscribe are generally not bearing fruit and this is purely because they have built for themselves a club and inner circle, allowing only the privileged few to enter. One elder published his prayer meeting in the Church newsletter every week, followed by the words, “By invitation only”. When I challenged the Pastor about this, he stated (joked) that even the pastors cannot attend. I was invited for six months. When I finally turned up, I did not sense God in it, so I never returned after that one visit. Others who remained felt privileged and were thus blinded. These people remain spiritual infants. This crowd continues to work on worldly networking principles and not on discernment as they should within the body.

  2. Robyn Says:

    I don’t like the graphic for The Gathering. It looks like a movie poster for a horror film. If it were a movie, it would be about a gathering of witches whose faces are frozen smiles. Some of those smiles look strained because of their face lifts. That diabolical letter A looks like the Illuminati sign. James Robinson looks like a serial killer. They all have this look on their face like they’re entreating us, “Come, join us…” Really, I can’t understand why they would make this scary image for the event.

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