Sermon preparation does not require technology. A Bible, maybe some paper and a pen, time and the Holy Spirit. These seem to be the necessities (and it would be possible without the pen and paper, if necessary). But this week I’ve been looking at various technological helps for sermon prep. Undoubtedly all that has been mentioned has value and can be very helpful. Yet it would be remiss to end the week without waving these four flags of caution:
Time – Using technology can undoubtedly save time. Reorganizing a message using cut and paste is much quicker than rewriting the whole message. Almost instant access to the right page in a commentary, or almost instant concordance searches are amazing innovations in our generation. But technology can also sap time. My mind immediately jumps to two, one of which I haven’t mentioned this week. Social networking can be a massive time sapper. So can preparing Powerpoint. I haven’t mentioned Powerpoint because it is really a technology designed to help presentation, rather than preparation. I will say this though – it is worth pondering whether the two or three hours (and more!) had been spent in improving the oral clarity of the message, would the message have been more compelling, gripping, clear, etc.? In many cases, the answer is a definite yes in my opinion. Anyway, I’ll leave powerpoint and similar for another series.
Distraction – Using technology offers instant access to so much, but it can also offer distraction from the task at hand. I’m not saying we shouldn’t use computers (and alarm clocks, phones, etc.) I am saying that we shouldn’t be naïve to the distraction that technology, especially the connected technologies online, can bring to our week. Maybe it would be worth keeping an accurate time log to discover just how distracted you get in a typical week!
Booklessness – I mentioned this earlier in the week. With all the benefits gained from online libraries and electronic books, etc., there does seem to be something lost when we don’t have a physical, tangible, real paper book on the desk before us. It may be hard to explain, but there does seem to be something about actually looking at paper, rather than being gradually blinded by the screen. There is something about actually retaining information, rather than merely being an expert in where to find it.
Prayerlessness – I pray when I’m working on the computer. But not always. Sometimes the combination of overwhelming information and the urgent though not always important needs, not to mention the noise of social media . . . well it can add up to seasons of prayerlessness. Even if that season is an hour, it seems to me that that is too long. If I weren’t using technology, would I be prayerless for an hour? Our churches need preachers who are walking very closely with God, who pray, who read . . . people that used to be referred to as “divines.” I don’t think it is just the label that has gone out of fashion.