Recently I was in a few different church meetings while I was back in North America. I sat in a variety of different worship and preaching styles, evangelical and charismatic, in just this recent month back home, but I’m also thinking back a few years as I write these thoughts. I’ve seen a pattern or trend with the advent of PowerPoint being incorporated more and more into pastors’ sermons in order to help enhance them and enable them, in theory, to be more ‘engaging’.
One time, a few years ago, I was in a service where the preacher came out, and there was a PowerPoint and musical presentation coming on and the music was playing “Who Are You?” by the Guess Who in what was a Christmas related message about Jesus. Something happened and the projector cut out. The preacher was visibly nervous as the first few minutes of his sermon clearly depended on whatever he had prepared in his presentation’s slides. Eventually it came back on and he got back into his groove, but it has always made me wonder–are these slides and other aides we use in presentations helping our presentations or hindering them? Preacher, if you had no electricity, would you still be electrifying in your message? Is the anointing of the Holy Spirit on your words as you speak them? Then I dare say, you don’t need these other tools, they need you.
What did Jesus do without the technology and electricity we have today? How did he preach the sermon on the mount without noise amplification like we have with our microphones and speakers?
There was another sermon I heard while I was home, and it was about 90 minutes long, but felt like only five. The preacher was very anointed and captivating. The words coming out of him were life-giving and making me want to pray more, get closer to Jesus, and operate more in the prophetic. I was only in a hurry to leave the service because I had somewhere to be at a certain time, but otherwise, boredom was NOT the reason. And the only PowerPoint being used during the entire service was for the lyrics to the music we were singing. Otherwise, this particular preacher didn’t depend on those aids, but he was captivating.
Meanwhile, I sat in another service while I was in North America, where this time the sermon was only 25 minutes long, but it felt MUCH longer. If using such aides are intended to help enhance the message and keep the listener engaged, it didn’t work, because I can barely remember what the message was about.
I’ve noticed a tendency in some preachers to not make their message understandable for the masses (and there are others who do so at an alarming rate of dumbing down to oversimplified levels), but instead preach so as to impress the other preachers or seminary grads who may be in the room. One of the ways I tell the difference, is I ask myself if my mind is tired or if my spirit is uplifted and edified. I don’t sit there with my arms crossed judging, but I listen for what I am able to obtain. But I think just because one has a butt kicking presentation, doesn’t mean they have the anointing. I remember once hearing pastor Richard Crisco say that most of the Church has confused having the anointing with being entertaining. There are lots of public speakers standing behind church pulpits these days who are entertaining, but it doesn’t mean automatically that they are anointed. In fact, I can’t really think of anything in my spirit that’s stuck with me over the years from an image in a PowerPoint message, but I can remember vividly other moments when a preacher had a convicting or powerful word from the throne above that pierced right through me or gave me a brilliant ‘aha’ moment.
I’ve heard of other preachers allowing people to use Twitter during their messages and teachings to post questions that go up onto the screens at the front of the auditorium. One pastor in particular stated that he does this to help church not suck, basically, and keep people paying attention. I realize part of the problem is our attention span has shrunk and it takes more and more to keep people captivated these days, but dear pastor, do you want to know an even better solution to keep your service from sucking? Have the presence of the Holy Ghost! Pray and spend time in God’s presence instead of on websites trying to figure out the latest trends and things that work.
The presence of God and the anointing of the Holy Spirit are far more valuable than the latest in technology.