Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Power Point: is this the latest battle in the "worship wars" ?

As I read last night's assigned readings I was struck by how similar the power point discussion is to the worship wars albeit the tone is not always as antagonistic. Having been a church music director for many years I have seen the good, the bad, and the ugly on both sides of the issue. Just like in the battle between traditional and contemporary worship music, traditional churches feel very threatened by technology. In agreement with Quanbeck regarding the poor use of this media by many preachers and teachers and in the class presentations of students I have observed. As a visual learner myself, pictures with text are helpful, but I don't like it when every single point of a presentation is printed on the power point slides. That defeats the purpose in my opinion. I would no more do that than to print my manuscript and pass it out to the congregation before preaching it. However, I have always found it helpful to receive in the church bulletin or see on power point, an outline of the sermon with fill in the blanks on key thoughts or concepts. This helps the listener hone in on what the preacher's main points are. Andrew Root makes similar points in his article supporting the use of power point by preachers.

I disagree with those who protest against the use of power point because they contend that the preached word is solely to be heard and not seen. Not all of us receive information aurally and are able to process it. I suspect that many who say they did not get anything out of the sermon would have an entirely different and positive experience had that sermon been accompanied by visual aids via power point or some other manner such as bulletin inserts.


  1. Jean,
    I agree that PowerPoint/multimedia is another in the ongoing battles over making any change in worship. But change and conflict is a part of the church, and has been since Christ ascended and left the Apostles in charge.

  2. Jean,
    I too have been struck by the readings and how they mesh well with the concerns my home church has had over contemporary worship. I'd already told my wife that she needed to read Silver Screen because of its' comments on those lines, because our church's hiring of a drummer and guitarist was the major change to worship. AAHH!!
    I'm still trying to wrap my head around the idea of giving out a sermon outline. It is something I'm not sure I want to do.
    Quality visual aids. Please try and define that for you, me, and each individual member of your congregation. Could be interesting. (Not Sgt Schultz: "Very interesting, but stupid") Hogan's Heroes

  3. So where do you stand on the music issue? We went to a contemporary service about a year ago and the "band" played Amazing Grace. The totally rearranged the song. I couldn't stand it. On the other hand, I have heard some really good contemporary music that I felt enhanced the service.

    I still struggle with the new wording of the Lord's Prayer.

  4. I think the music can be done well in a contemporary way, but it tends to take a lot of skills, resources, and equipment that congregations simply don't have. That is tough to bring into a congregation, because it often necessitates hiring a band or several independent musicians. Furthermore, good musicians don't come cheap, especially if you want them to play anything more liturgically viable than cookie cutter praise music. I always thought it would be good to have a blended service, where you could have the band play some hymns and some other things, and sing some things with just a keyboard of some sort.

  5. I agree that it is important to use technology. But we need to be careful not to be entertaining. I do not believe it is good that our attention spans are approaching that of goldfish and our sermons should not help that process along. We must hold attention without simply entertaining.