The Forming of Images

Another quote from Flickering Pixels by Shane Hipps, prompting a thought for today:

Advertising is the direct result of the camera.  “Images have an incredible capacity to generate needs in humans that don’t naturally exist.” (75)  “Images initially make us feel rather than think.”  “Images don’t invite you to argue; they give you an experience.” (76) “Image culture dramatically shapes the way we think.  It also determines what we think about.” (77)

It would be wrong to assume that such an image culture has only existed in our part of the world in recent years.  The reality is that the non-image, linear logical culture is largely a recent and localized phenomenon.  Perhaps the difference now is that we are an image saturated culture with pixels flickering constantly.  Everywhere else, for most of time, there has been a constancy of image formed through the familiar narratives that defined each culture.

That’s the thing about narrative.  It forms an image in the hearer that doesn’t require multi-million dollar Hollywood camera work.  Good storytelling forms images in minds and hearts just as effectively.  In the early days of radio it was the story and soap opera shows that proved popular, not just information driven shows.  Ask a child if they are willing to hear a good story without any pictures to supplement it and they will usually cope just fine!  (In fact, some children would give anything to have a parent who would read to them at all!)

The Bible is saturated with stories.  The Bible also has a meta-narrative that gives us a sense of security, stability and insight into the reality in which we continue to live.  As preachers our task is not to simply provide good argumentation, effective applicational lists or biblical facts.  Our task is primarily one of forming images in the hearts and minds of listeners that will stir faith through the experience of already seeing God work during our preaching.  Our task is to form images so that listeners can respond appropriately to God’s self-giving through His Word – not in any way a mere mental decision, but a heart-driven response to a heart-stirring God.

Preacher, form images!

3 thoughts on “The Forming of Images

  1. I agree. I think, too often, preachers rely on PowerPoint to fill in the gaps in their preaching. Or they will put their outline on the slides for people to “follow along” as they preach.

    The problem is that most of the time that backfires. If the narrative isn’t good enough to stand on its own, then no amount of flashy pictures will help.

    However, I do need to advocate for a judicious use of images in preaching. Not as a replacement for igniting the imagination through narrative, but as a spur.

    During the last winter Olympics I used images of Michelle Quan next to the US curling team leader (skip). Everyone knew Michelle, and no one knew the curling team. Then I showed a picture of the entire Olympic team – no matter how famous or how anonymous, they were all a part of the same team. Then I went on to preach about the body of Christ.

    Thanks for your thought on this book – I need to pick it up, it seems.

  2. “Our task is to form images so that listeners can respond appropriately to God’s self-giving through His Word – not in any way a mere mental decision, but a heart-driven response to a heart-stirring God.”

    Sometimes we thought we are the ones at the wheels in our preaching and so we tend to look at hearers’ responses to our well-prepared sermon at hand.

    Tks bro for bringing that out!

  3. Hi Pete,
    Thought I’d encourage you a bit…
    I’ve noticed a change in your posts lately, there’s a real quality in the writing! I’m not sure entirely what it is, but perhaps it’s the choice of words and metaphors and images you’ve been creating. I like it!
    Something’s happened, and I’m even more engaged and appreciating your writing.
    So thanks.
    Praise God!

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