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 communication process.
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 message across.

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.