Jun 8, 2008

Visual Media in Preaching and Teaching

There has been some discussion regarding the use of visual media (e.g., PowerPoint, videos, etc.) in preaching. For example, see
here, here, here, and here. I sense that the general tone in these posts toward the use of such media is somewhat ambivalent. Personally, I tend to be a bit more positive of visual media for at least three reasons. First, I think that the Scriptures themselves commonly contain instances of visual imagery. For example, Daniel is shown dreams and visions and he describes what he sees. Second, sight is one of our senses and I think that it helps to utilize as many senses as possible in any form of communication. Third, the exercise of visualizing a message helps one to consider the text in a different way than merely reading it and planning only to preach it verbally. Creating or utilizing accurate, appropriate, and helpful visuals forces one to think about the text in different ways. For example, think of what you would have to do if you were filming a narrative in the Bible. You would have to know the background, the context, the characters, the plot, etc. While most of us will never film such a narrative, considering how we might visualize a text often requires us to consider more details than a straightforward reading and presentation might. In this sense, I think it can help the speaker in his preparation.

Having said all this I think that cautions reflected in the posts above are helpful. I would hasten to add that visual fluff is no better (or worse) than verbal fluff. I do believe the truism that if you can't preach or teach without PowerPoint or video then you can't preach or teach with it.

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