Hugely challenging post from Kim Faith and Theology: Ten propositions on preaching.
As someone who does use IT some of the time when preaching (not powerpoint though, I use Impress which is part of OpenOffice which is free software) point 8 is in my mind up for debate.
I do agree that using powerpoint bullets for the points of the sermon is a bad idea. However, at least in my opinion, that is generally a poor use of the technology.
My own understanding of communication theory is that we do not remember a great deal of what we hear. Using more senses helps us "hear" the message, understand the message and remember the message.
So for example when preaching on Genesis 18: 1-15 I might display Rublev’s Icon of the Trinity. I will often display the texts of scripture that I am referring too. I will use pictures as part of my illustrations.
To my way of thinking Kim is using 9 of his propositions on preaching to emphasise its critical importance, therefore appropriate use of technology to improve effectiveness.
Three things Kim said in proposition 8:
Substantively, if the medium is the message, how can the medium of
IT—icon of postmodern power—square with the word of the cross?
Surely if the medium is the message we can ask the question: How can a purely verbal medium square with the reality of the cross which resonates with our whole being?
provides a thought-experiment: “What would Martin Luther King’s ‘I Have
a Dream’ speech look like in PowerPoint?”
a) Surely MLK would not have been using proprietary, closed source software from a monopoly.
b) Let us not pretend that presentation software is essential, required or always appropriate. But to agree that is not to agree that it is never appropriate.
c) Let us not pretend that technology was not used effectively by MLK. How about the PA equipment that meant so many could hear him, how about the use of TV to ensure the message went all over the world and can still be seen today.
d) One problem is that we have plenty of examples of great preachers such as MLK of preaching without powerpoint but we do not have great examples of preaching with it. When we look outside the world of preaching we can see some outstanding uses of presentation software and many more terrible ones and the difference is like chalk and cheese. So I think Kim is making an unfair comparison between the best oral preaching and low quality, relatively newbie and unskilled preaching using technology.
However, I feel a bit bad at focusing on proposition 8. The others are great (scary but great).
Oh and by the way there has been a discussion on Richard’s blog.