Thursday, April 10, 2008 12:00 AM
Media moguls bet billions of dollars annually that with the right tools, people can be influenced in very dramatic ways.
While we do not have their budgets, we do have one thing that is able to take our methods and give them power beyond any resource they may possess and that, of course, is God's Holy Spirit.
What if you were to have the technology to use inspirational images before the service to prepare your people's hearts and minds for worship? What if you could project an image that links with a theme or hymn being sung--or project an image related to a Bible reading--or were able to bring a sermon illustration to life--or could use art to stimulate your people's thinking--or could use contemporary news images during your prayers of intercession for the world? What if you could have a member share a personal story of faith that authentically drives home your point but is done consistently at all the services and is edited for the greatest impact? Rightly used, technology can add so much to your preaching and the worship life of our congregations, making God's word come alive in multi-dimensional ways!
Having used audio/visual technology in my preaching for over the past seven years let me share some practical wisdom:
1. Less is more. A few good images can do more than a plethora of images. Images can function like sound--don't shout!
2. Make sure the images are thematically "spot on" with your topic and that the theme runs throughout the worship service, beyond simply the preaching event.
3. Project words on the screens sparingly as it can often seem quite pedagogical. While there is always a need to educate in the sermon and will be times to use more text for particular services, a good maxim is "the didactic must always be in service to the kerygmatic." Finally, it is not what gets remembered by your listeners but what happens within them!
4. Do it all striving for utmost excellence. Projection equipment should offer enough lumens for greatest visual impact and sound equipment should be able to allow video to be heard by all in ways that are not distorted. Practice with your tech people well in advance to work out any glitches. Nothing is worse than technology poorly used!
5. Build a team. To put this into place can be time consuming. Find high school techies and work with them. Have a group of folks who can look for images, videos, etc. for you ahead of time. It will take planning, but we should always be working weeks, or more often months ahead.
6. Depending on your church's culture, use technology sparingly for greatest impact.
7. Make sure the technology is your servant and that you do not become its servant.
8. Pray. Pray over the use of your technology every bit as much as you pray over the words you are scribing on the paper and speaking from your pulpit. God's Spirit must enliven what we do for it to have any impact at all.
9. Unless you are in a church that has a huge tech budget, find resources and websites where you can purchase images and videos for your uses rather than attempting to create them in-house. www.sermonspice.com is just one resource among many for well-done and inexpensive videos and www.textweek.com has a wonderful library of lectionary-based art.
10. Most of all have fun--it's like learning to preach all over again!