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!

Sources on Technology and Preaching

The site received a comment from Greg, who is in the DMin program at Talbot – preaching cohort. His thesis is allowing him to research “The Effects of Advanced Technology on Expository Preaching.” I’ve taken his questions and integrated them into this post, allowing us all to think about the issue, as well as offering help to Greg.

I suppose in thirty years’ time Greg’s grandchildren may be laughing at what he called “advanced technology” – remember the revolution caused by the Overhead Projector (the ones with transparent sheets on top)? Nevertheless, technology is changing rapidly and it is making a difference in the world of preaching. Now we think nothing of listeners reading along in their Bibles (depending on the church), but before the advanced technology of Gutenberg, that would have been unthinkable.

Here’s a quick comment from me on the issue (not for Greg’s sake, but so that this is actually a post rather than just a request). I think we shouldn’t resist technology as if our previous experience is somehow “the right way.” At the same time, we shouldn’t dive in with technology just because we have the option.  How many poor messages have you heard with powerpoint, just because it was “the new thing?” My mind goes back to some posts I did on powerpoint and preaching – powerpoint on purpose, as well as one of the very early posts on what you want them to remember, oh, and a couple on movie clips – here and here, and I really liked Boyd-MacMillan’s critique of the anti-monolog brigade here.

But Greg’s questions, can we help him out?

1. Any suggestions on recommended reading for this subject? Books or journal articles? (Currently reading or will read, Hipps – Flickering Pixels, Ong – Orality and Literacy, Blackwood – The Power of Multisensory Preaching and Teaching, Stott – Between Two Worlds, Hunt – The Vanishing Word, Levinson – Digital McCluhan)

2. Anyone regularly using technology in their preaching (PowerPoint, Media Shout, Pro Presenter, Video Clips, Multi-site, Video Venues, Texting, etc.) that has an opinion on how valuable you think your technology is to your preaching, I’d love to hear about your experiences

Greg gave his email address, but I wouldn’t want him getting hundreds of new spam emails as a result of this.  So please answer his questions on the site as a comment.  If you want to contact Greg direct, just mention this to me and I’ll send you his email address.  Let’s share thoughts for each other’s benefit, and answer these questions for Greg’s benefit, then hopefully in the long run his DMin can be for all our benefit!

Final words to Greg – Thanks all and blessing on your work in the pulpit!