Technology in Worship

Quentin Schultze has a short but interesting article on the misuse of technology in worship at

Go read but let me just add my 2¢ worth. Technology is neutral. It is not inherently good or bad, but it can be used in ways that are helpful or not. When the technology supports the worship, it is good. Sort of like using illustrations in a sermon. If they support the point of the text, they are good. When they so overshadow the Bible, they are bad. Air conditioning is a good use of technology unless it is too loud or too cold.

Same thing with PowerPoint. If it supports the preaching of the word and the worship of God (I’m not sure PowerPoint has any place in the administration of the sacraments) then it is good. If the technology moves to center stage it is not. When a PowerPoint presentation is so busy and cluttered, or filled with so many beautiful pictures that the presentation is what the people are talking about in the narthex (or lobby or coffee corner or whatever) then it is a bad thing.

The point is that we need to be on guard against distractions in worship. Where possible, we should eliminate the distractions. That isn’t to say that you can’t worship with distractions, you can. In a creative access Asian context we worshipped in the city park with people milling around. We were also keeping an eye out for the police. And yet, it was a God-honoring worship service. But when we’re in settings where we have more control over the environment, we need to take care. PowerPoint for the sake of PowerPoint is not good. A video because “everyone has video these days” is probably not constructive.

At the same time, it must be added that if a video illustrates a point and is well done, (and is SHORT) it might be helpful in preaching. I have noticed that when a quote is put upon the projector while being read, I tend to remember it better.

Let’s just make sure we’re intentional in worship and not too casual or ‘hip’.

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  • I’m puzzling over your contention that technology is neutral. I’m puzzling because I stumbled across your site while looking for some wisdom about the use of powerpoint in sermons, and two posts below this one is one (entitled “Worship Space” where you say “Something I’ve come to truly appreciate lately is that the medium is not neutral in communication.” Hmmm. So, is a technological medium for communication (i.e., PowerPoint) neutral, or not so much?

  • Excellent question Ron. I guess that is inconsistant, isn’t it? I said that the medium is not neutral and then said that technology is. What I think I mean to say was that the use of technology is neutral. Good catch.

    In my opinion, the “medium” of PowerPoint is not neutral necessarily but its function conforms to the need in worship. In other words, we don’t sit at home and watch PowerPoint slides of words as entertainment. We do sit at home and watch videos as entertainment.

    The unintentional message of PowerPoint doesn’t interfere with its use in worship as far as I can see What it tends to say is “here is some information you need.” When it is used for projecting words to a song, the message of the medium is in harmony with its use. When used with a sermon it can do the same thing. Where it begins to get in the way (for me anyway) is when we get cutsy with the fonts and the backgrounds and the transitions. Then PowerPoint begins to draw attention to itself.

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