Is there Power in the PowerPoint?

At times is seems to take on the proportions of the great christological debates of the early church. What am I referring to? Whether or not we use PowerPoint whilst preaching. One writer has called its use ‘arrogant’ likening it to dressing down in the pulpit! Another asks rhetorically whether or not Spurgeon would have used it. And for him that seems to settle it.

I for one am not a fan of preaching with PowerPoint. I find it restrictive in terms of presentation and in terms of preparation- I don’t want to spend my preparation time looking for suitable images. I also am resistant to the idea in some quarters that any good presentation requires PowerPoint. I am opposed to having preaching with PowerPoint de rigeur.

But I am also opposed to the idea of no PowerPoint in preaching de rigeur. Is that not a little legalistic? There are I find times when PowerPoint in preaching can be a useful tool. Also others have told me that they have on occasions found it useful i.e. to provide a map. I don’t particularly like using it. I don’t really see the point in sticking a few headings up on a screen while preaching. But that doesn’t mean we should completely get rid of it. It does occasionally have its uses.

What is becoming clear however in a number of recent studies that I have read is that PowerPoint may not communicate as effectively as people have supposed. That rather than engaging people it causes people to disengage with material on the screen. Preaching is about engagement. Not just the presentation of information. And we need to think about whether or not the promiscuous use of PowerPoint may inhibit us in that task.

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