PowerPoint in the Older Church

The use of multimedia in traditional worship settings can be controversial. For some older church members, it may be jarring to see a giant video screen one Sunday. However, some may find it beneficial once it's understood that there are both proper and improper ways of using tools like PowerPoint, Keynote, ProPresenter, and MediaShout.

Improper uses:
  • Distracting animation
  • Tacky clip-art
  • Inappropriate movie clips
  • Tasteless pictures
  • A tool for taking Scripture out of context.
  • A weapon for "death by powerpoint."
Proper use:
  • Allowing the congregation to share the same Scripture translation
  • Highlighting key points or keywords
  • Projecting Greek/Hebrew root words
  • Revealing the harmony of Scripture in parallel.
  • Supplementing the message for those who are hard of hearing.
I think in the 21st century church, controversies arise not because of the tools we use, but how we use them. I avoided using PowerPoint (or rather, Keynote) at our own church for fear of creating controversy. My concern was unwarranted. We've used it recently with positive feedback. The hard of hearing liked being able to follow along. The scholarly liked seeing the exact translation. The note-takers liked seeing highlighted main points.

What do you think? Obviously, PowerPoint is not "biblical," but does that make it un-Godly? Is it adiaphora? Can it fit within any and all worship traditions?


  1. I would add one item to your proper uses and that would be enhancing animation. We use it when we are building a concept and so can visually add layers or distinctions to the concept.

    In my church the logistical problem that drives me crazy is the placement of the screen. They say that they are going to change this, someday, but the sanctuary is just old enough that it is pre-AV enhanced worship so the screen is front and center and when down covers the cross. For the seeker sensitive crowd there is no cross to cover, but we are still traditional enough of a crowd that we like the cross and like to have it visible during worship.

  2. Steve-
    The ability to add visual layers is wonderful. I use to to show how we build on last week's message.

    Screen placement is a biggie. They're difficult to blend into a traditional sanctuary. Drop down screens can be distracting, Flat Screen TVs can be good if the back row can still see.

    I favor 2 smaller screens vs. 1 big screen-- they're easier to blend into current architecture and provide a degree of symmetry. It also keeps the spoken Word front and center.


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