January 31, 2007
Preaching the Word in an Image–Oriented Culture
Reconcile verbal communication with visual communication.
My childhood church had a silver cross suspended in the sanctuary. It was the visual focus of our worship. I recently returned to the church and the cross was still there, but few people notice it anymore. A large screen now hangs in front of it.
We live in an image-oriented culture, and that reality has impacted the way we worship, the way we design our churches, and even the way we preach. But how do we reconcile the discipline of preaching - a traditionally verbal form of communication - with our culture's captivity to images - a visual form of communication?
Next week thousands of church leaders will descend upon San Diego for the annual National Pastors Convention. Marshall Shelley and I will be there to facilitate an open dialogue with three church leaders on this subject. We'll be talking mainly about the use of visuals and technology in preaching - both the dangers and the opportunities. Each of the participants reflects a different ministry setting, but all are committed to faithfully communicating the gospel.
The panel participants are:
Jarrett Stevens is director of the college and singles ministry, and teacher for 7|22 at North Point Church in Alpharetta, Georgia. Previously, he served as a teaching pastor in Axis, the Next-Gen ministry of Willow Creek Community Church in suburban Chicago.
Shane Hipps is the lead pastor of Trinity Mennonite Church - a missional, urban, Anabaptist congregation. Prior to pastoral ministry Shane had a career in advertising as a strategic planner where he gained expertise in understanding media and culture.
John Palmieri is pastor of the multi-cultural New Life Community Church in Melrose Park, IL. Prior to his pastoral ministry in urban Chicago, he was involved in the business world.
We invite you to share your stories of using images and technology in worship. What has worked well? What was a disaster? And what questions do you have for our panelists? Questions submitted by Out of Ur readers, along with the questions of pastors in attendance, will help direct the conversation. We will publish portions of the conversation in an upcoming issue of Leadership.