Originally, the main source of worship in church came from listening to the musical instruments and singing songs. And the pastor’s sole means of delivering sermons was verbal communication. What do these things have in common? They are all audio methods.
Our visual information-gathering skills have become more acute over time with the introduction of technology’s high-tech visual arts. Graphic design and theatre can bring any piece of information to life. And so, we have seen an increase in the use of visual aids and visual arts in churches. Projectors make it possible for the congregation to watch movies and videos, and many pastors are using PowerPoint presentations as visual aids for their sermons. Also, interpretive dances, such as those done with ribbons, pictures/paintings and miming are all being used in church services to send a message or tell a story.
Is all this acceptable? And if so, how far is too far?
Some of these activities, like miming, are from a heathen/pagan background* which means they oppose Christian beliefs. If we say “we’re dedicating it to God,” does that forfeit its origins?
“Do not fall into the trap of following their customs and worshiping their gods. Do not inquire about their gods, saying, ‘How do these nations worship their gods? I want to follow their example’ ” (Deuteronomy 12:30).
In an effort to retain the youth in our churches and welcome new ones, leaders aim to be creative and current. It is perfectly acceptable to try and create church services that are more interactive, interesting, and exciting. However, in the process, we have to be mindful of the type of visual stimulation we are infusing into our churches. My pastor said it this way, “The key to whatever it is that we seek to do for the Lord should be done in such a way as to maximize the kingdom of God.”
There is more than one way to deliver the Gospel. Nevertheless, whatever the transportation, we have to stick to Bible truths. Let’s not get carried away with providing entertainment and emotionalism that we miss the mark of discipleship and uplifting Christ.
God can use visual communication and the visual arts to communicate truth; we just have to allow Him. In addition, difficult subjects can be handled tastefully and even humorously with great effect through these mediums. The take-away is this: all that we seek to incorporate into church services should be aimed at spiritual growth through a deeper connection with God.
What are your views on visual communications and its place in church?
*(For those interested in the origins of mime/pantomime and its links to paganism and idolatry, you can read more here: https://readychurch.wordpress.com/category/the-truth-behind-mime/.)