In our technological age, we can now move beyond the simple visual
aids of the past like chalk boards or flip charts or transparent
cells with overhead projectors. We can dazzle our people with
POWER POINT. As a result, pastors are putting up screens and flashing
their power point presentation before the congregation as they
preach their sermons each week. As popular as this approach has
become, however, it is not without its drawbacks.
One problem has to do with CUSTOM. The introduction
of a screen into the sanctuary is problematic for some. Even in
my church, which I think of as being really progressive, some
were upset when we introduced the screen into the sanctuary about
fifteen years ago. For the first few months, I had to regularly
remind the people — “This is technology, not theology.”
A second problem has to do with the desire to present
our message with CLASS. Any tool we use is beneficial only if
we use it effectively — that is, with class. If the power
point presentation is not attractive, it will become a hindrance
instead of a help. If the power point presentation does not coincide
with the message as we deliver it, it will become a hindrance
instead of a help. If the power point is marred with misspelled
words, it will become a hindrance instead of a help. In other
words, if we are going to use power point, we need to use it effectively.
A third problem has to do with the process of COMMUNICATION.
Calvin Miller and I shared leadership in a preaching conference
a couple of years back and I noticed that he did not use a power
point in his initial presentation. I questioned him about this
after the session and he suggested that in most cases, the power
point presentation draws the attention of the people away from
the one presenting the message. As a result, the powerful effect
of body language and eye contact is lost and this diminishes the
A final problem relating to the use of power point comes when
you feel the need to make a CHANGE. I preach in two different
worship services every Sunday morning. Sometimes, after the first
presentation, I will feel led to make some changes. I might decide
to leave out a point or to change a Scripture or to leave out
a quote or to include another quote. This creates logistical problems
for the person operating the power point. At times I have chosen
not to make the change, that I really think I should make, simply
because of the logistical issues with the power point.
So to the question — to Power Point or not
to Power Point — what is the answer? I opt to use it, despite
the problems identified above, for two primary reasons.
First, I believe communication is most effective
when we incorporate all the senses. When my spoken word is enhanced
by the written word on the screen, I am more likely to get my
Second, the power point reaffirms to the congregation
that I am not winging it in my message, that I have prepared the
message before hand.