David Philips has a great post on what pornography does to the brain. He goes on to draw application to ministry and the need for using more visual images in preaching. Maybe that could have made a separate post? On the flip side of Philips’ application in regard to images in preaching you have John Piper’s view that overuse of video and images might actually be a detriment to preaching. In his now often cited article at Out of Ur he said,
“I think the use of video and drama largely is a token of unbelief in the power of preaching. And I think that, to the degree that pastors begin to supplement their preaching with this entertaining spice to help people stay with them and be moved and get helped, it’s going to backfire…. It’s going to communicate that preaching is weak, preaching doesn’t save, preaching doesn’t hold, but entertainment does.”
I think there is a balance to be found here. It is clear that images do communicate powerfully and well timed images or video illustrations can greatly supplement a sermon and drive the point home. Obviously, if we rely on these week in and week out over and above the Word we are going to have problems.
There have been several really great comments on this post. I wanted to point out what James said here but please read the rest…they are excellent thoughts that bring great balance to the conversation.
“Can visuals rob power from the preaching? Yup. If poorly used, video, drama, and images can make a sermon feel more like a TV show than the exposition of the word of God.
But, when the sermon comes first, like Tim said, and the sermon can stand alone (if necessary), then visuals can add an emotional, transformational impact to the sermon. Putting in a movie clip that helps to illustrate a point or gets people thinking about the sermon topic can help train people to think such thoughts whenever they watch TV and movies. Piper is afraid of contaminating preaching with entertainment. I say we contaminate entertainment with preaching by training people to see their world through the eyes of Jesus.
Who’s with me?”