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August 31, 2010



I think the key to using powerpoint is always always use it sparingly. An artwork or a map might be useful if the sermon is about arts or follows, for example, a missionary journey of Paul. Anything really beyond that, and I fear it gets in the way.

Words on the screen, contrary to preachers' hopes, rarely serve to drive a point home, they just distract, whether it's one word or a text quotation. And using images of water or fire or a candle are quite blatently distracting and pointless fluff (unless one is doing some kind of deliberately hi-tech experimental service, I suppose).

I was deeply glad at Greenbelt, for example, that we were given an order of service with song words and liturgy on, rather than having the words on the big screen, which was largely used to aid the large crowds in seeing who was speaking. I thought this was a good use of technology, that kept the focus on people not gadgets.

When giving academic or business presentations, the wisdom seems to be to put nothing more detailed than bullets or graphs on the screen. So why, in church, do we think it's okay to overlay lyrics over a live-stream of the worship-leader's face whilst flashing up a scrolling message asking the owner of the Red Vauxhall to move it, then quick-fading to a stock-vid of a waterfall overlayed with the NIV words of the bible passage someone spontaneously read out? (which you can't do in Powerpoint, but you can with at least 2 worship-specific software packages I've used).

Neil Brighton

As someone who routinely uses powerpoint when preaching (to show images not project words or highlight points) my observation is that, on the whole, people find it helpful. More accurately perhaps, some people find a visual focus helps them to 'get' what you are saying. Others, don't find it so useful and tend to ignore the images.

I've got so used to it now that I find it odd to listen to a preacher without the images or to preach without them.

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