FAQ #1

A little further on preaching ... I appreciated that website offered by Sean (on the "Windy Place" posting) and those comments by Kim Fabricius. In it he returns to what I find to be the most 'frequently asked question' I hear on the subject of preaching: 'what about powerpoint?'

Fabricius writes the following:
"Technically, Richard Lischer oberves that 'when the brain is asked to multi-task by listening and watching at the same time, it always quits listening.' Substantively, if the medium is the message, how can the medium of IT - icon of postmodern power - square with the word of the cross? Lischer provides a thought-experiment: "What would Martin Luther King's 'I have a dream' speech look like in powerpoint?'

What do you think? I think he asks a valid question. While powerpoint clearly has a place, its place is easily over-valued. Here are my cautions:
(a) I fear that the powerpoint imaging/support of the sermon too often receives more effort than the basic crafting of the sermon itself.
(b) I fear that the stuff on the screen too often becomes a crutch that is needed in order to give the sermon clarity and momentum. I would argue that if this is the case then the preparation of the sermon is incomplete - and this needs to be completed first.
(c) I fear that this growing confidence in 'image' is associated with a diminishing confidence in 'word', or even Word. This would be a serious error for preachers to make - and is adrift from biblical spirituality which, at its essence, is about a God who speaks and a people who listen and then obey. If people find it heard to listen, maybe they need to be taught to listen - because listening is just so important.
(d) While there is overlap between teaching and preaching, I fear that powerpoint drifts things across to the teaching side as the all-important persuasive element in preaching can go missing.

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nice chatting



Tash said…
Preaching a 2 part series earlier this month allowed for some experiementation.. I used minimal 'heading' slides .. reference points to the particular aspect of the topic I was approaching at the time, the first week. None the second.

A number of people commented the second week about how refreshing the absence of slides was .. that they weren't being spoonfed with 'sermon subtitles', in case they didn't get it the first time.

The first week reflected that those who commented enjoyed the slides not being verbatim copies of the sermon itself, but different phrases or perspectives.

Two different approaches, neither of them the 'norm', which suited me just fine. However, I'm still unsure which would be my or my congregation's preference.
Stephen G said…
Would MLK use Powerpoint? I wonder if he was speaking today if he wouldn't use slam poetry and hip hop instead to "preach".

Sort of like Saul William's pieces "September 12th" and "The Pledge to Resist".


Also, you might be interested in these two opposing views on PowerPoint.


Paul Windsor said…
I sense something of your ambivalence Tash - and find I live in that world a lot ... As for you, Stephen - this is the second time you've sent me on a treasure hunt. Remember 'moralistic therapeutic deism' - I am thinking about another post on that one. I even took the time to read the book!
Stephen G said…
Well, in a similar vein to Williams work, though a completely different genre, check out Dave Rovics material.


His song "Who would Jesus bomb?" is interesting. (Lyrics and MP3s on that site, just scroll down a bit)
Tim said…
If preaching really IS, as they often say, truth through personality, then PPT is either the best or worst thing to happen to preaching in ages!

The worst when it's just a standard "slide" with headings and texts etc.. No personality.

The best when it really does someting new and different...

On the whole I refuse to use PPT for preaching. But sometimes I'll show a clip or picture, just as sometimes I'll play some music...

But then I rarely use PPT for teaching either ;)
Paul Windsor said…
At the Changing Church, Changing World conference this week in Palmerston North, Michael Frost (Australia) spoke for 60mins at a time - without notes and without ppt ... and it was some of the most compelling communication I have heard. And yes, the kind that is inspiring and depressing at the same time!

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