Thursday, July 25, 2013

Props and visual aids. . .

I was asked once if I used visual aids in my sermons.  I replied that I did not.  I left it at that.  The person asking got my drift but did not appreciate the answer.  It seemed the question was less a query than it was an encouragement suggesting I ought to use them.

I was reminded of a story, factual though the names have not been used to protect the innocent, from a preacher preaching a sermon in a highly liturgical church.   Homiletic props were one of his specialties. This priest who once placed a box of dog excrement at the top of the nave and, after wandering around it, asked parishioners to guess the contents. When no one understandably could, he let them in on his secret and said, “Sometimes you have to walk through a lot of this to get to Jesus.”

Uhhhh...  Well...  I would say visual aid not needed.  But that might just be me...

It seems that over and over again when we fear the Word will not do what God has purposed it to do, we come up with gimmicks that we think will bolster the Word, assist the Word, give added weight or relevance to the Word... but when we do this, we nearly always detract from the Word so that the preacher, the preaching, and the Word preached is diminished as a consequence.

If I might be allowed, the poor folks in the pews have to walk through a lot of the above named visual aid and too much of it comes from the people charged with preaching the Word.  Drama is no substitute for faithfulness.  Gimmicks are no substitute for faith.  Being infamous is not the same as being memorable.  The first job of the preacher is to get out of the way of the text (Word).  Have I said enough?



6 comments:

Janis Williams said...

Yes, enough said, Fr. Peters.

I beg to differ, however. We/you do use visual "aids." They are vestments, paraments, crucifixes, altar cloths, covers for the elements of the Eucharist. And don't forget candles and (cough cough), incense!

Seriously, in a day of iPhones and YouTube, why do we have so much trouble understanding some things are sacred? There's nothing wrong with CCM in your car or home, it just doesn't belong in church. There's nothing wrong with YouTube (witness Hans Fiene and Lutheran Satire); just don't put it on a jumbotron in the Divine Service.

Americans have lost the idea of the hallowed, even we who pray the Our Father every week. Nothing holy is immune in our society from the invasion of our desires.

Anonymous said...

So, Jesus taking a child and putting him in the midst of them was NOT a visual aid?!

Jim Davis said...

Some visual aids stink; like the one you used here. Others can be effective. The visual aid on your blog is effective because it has such a negative connotation.

One pastor used stones, one large and several small ones, to illustrate the story of the stoning of the prostitute. "Let him who is without sin cast the first stone." The first stone is the large one and is designed to inflict serious bodily damage. Others follow with the small stones.
This was a very effective visual aid.

Anonymous said...

Someone forgot to tell the Jesus First crowd about current trends in the Church:

http://thechristianpundit.org/2013/07/17/young-evangelicals-are-getting-high/

Retro is cool.

Erik Maldre said...

Anonymous ("Retro is cool"): Trends don't last because they're driving force is the service of the self. Why are the youth apparently turning to "high" church? Sadly the answer often is selfish intentions.

ErnestO said...

A crucifix (from Latin cruci fixus)is thee most clear and powerful visual aid we have in the Church.