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Do Not Use Visual Media In Worship If…

July 7th, 2009

Worship VJ has written an interesting list of bad reasons to use visual media. It is a little bit on the snarky side, but it makes a good point…

Visual Media should be used to primarily to “enhance” the worship experience, not to try to fix a problem.


…IF your reasons include the following:

  • as a substitute for other methods (think about all the senses)
  • solely for entertainment (understand that entertainment is not bad itself and CAN be used as a tool when the timing/context is right)
  • visual media is not a crowd-getter or a cure-all
  • visual media is not a substitute for preparation
  • visual media is not for the personal satisfaction of the visual enthusiast
  • to keep the “young people” interested in worship.
  • “it’s time to boost our congregational singing.”
  • to change with the culture b/c we might lose church members to another church.
  • we have to create more powerful worship experiences (visual media won’t create it)
  • we want outsiders/visitors to know that we are a first-rate/”cutting edge” church (keeping up with the Joneses)
  • Without using the latest technology, we won’t be able to increase the size of our congregation.
  • Presentational technologies will allow us to grow and expand. (only the church can do CHURCH. Technology will not secure that a congregation will act as/be the Church.

Agree, disagree?


  • trey said:

    Uh if your still using the old overhead projectors and that stuff, you will have no people at all.

  • Samantha said:

    This is very true! The visual is just the icing on the cake.

  • proctor (worshipVJ) said:

    great comments…. but so far, visual media has just been treated like the icing on the cake.
    what if it was the other way around?

    God designed us to be visual…it’s who we are. we have denied it for a long time (in our churches) and now it’s more of an after thought.

    what if visual worship was approached more as part of the main course instead of the icing on the cake? i think that approach would merit us restructuring the way we staff those roles/positions in our church, and it would cause us to start using different kinds of visual media (some of which i don’t think exists yet…which is why we need people creating it).

    godo thoughts to wrestle with and process.
    the shift is happening, whether we agree with it or not.
    So the question is, how are we going to lead our churches into worship in the context of all things visual?

  • proctor (worshipVJ) said:

    (good thoughts… not “godo” thoughts) – i type fast when i’m excited. haha

  • LilOhioChurch,BigGodThings said:

    In our church, visual media has turned everyone around! We went from being a 100% hymn church where our attendance under age 35 was less that 3%….And now our younger crowd makes up about 30%. it has also boosted the morale of the congregation and more people have begun to attend small groups and wednesday night bible sessions. =) It’s been GREAT for our church!

  • Che said:

    I agree with some of the comments above. visual presentation makes a very big difference, especially with the youth congregation.

  • Luke said:

    I think that visual media really helps people participate more in worship than when they have their heads stuck in a hymn book. I also agree with the list above that Christ should always be the center of our Church, not the words on a screen.

  • marcos said:

    Excellent comments totally agree with you Worship VJ. You are not biased to any side. God Bless u! and keep going

  • kginkc said:

    bullet 9 – a more powerful worship experience. visual media most certainly enables the worship experience to be more powerful. even changing the color on the walls has an immediate impact, or allowing more or less light into a room makes a difference. anything visual carries with it a power that is non-verbal, yet effective (positive or not) in creating an ‘atmosphere’. Just watch an old movie or TV show and you can tell the difference in visual impact of modern ‘eye-noise’.

  • Hennie said:

    We have only started using visual media in our church. Before this, our young people were leaving the church and sat at home on Sundays because they said that the sermons was dull and followed the same routine every Sunday. They also said that they did not take anything away from the sermons. After we began using visual media, the young people of the church began attending church and you can see the enthusiasm they have to praise God especially during praise and worship. I don’t know for sure if this is because of the visual media, but all I know is that it helps me to understand the sermon a bit better.

    PS. Does anybody have pointers for improving the praise and worship and using these motion backgrounds? We are using MS Power point and it does not allow for this.
    .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

  • TJ Bailey said:

    Good points everyone!

    I think that while visual media is rapidly becoming an important part of what we in the Americanized church call “worship,” we need to be sensitive to the fact that God doesn’t want us to put on a show, He wants the worshipful hearts of believers. That being said, I’m very grateful for what the people here at New Worship Media are doing!

    God Bless
    ~ The Student Body

  • Mike Flathers said:

    Well i think every church is different. There is no formula to Church, cause at the end of the day, ministry is people and people are different any where you go; therefor church needs to be different any where you go.

    I will say that often the word christian in the secular world is tied with the thought of “cheap imitation” (“christian” music). There is a point to be made that there are a bunch of churches running their production on the cutting edge of yesterday. The real question is does that even matter?

    At the end of the day, opinions don’t save people, technology doesn’t save people nor do we - it’s the word of God, it’s Christ. All that said, don’t use visual media as a band aid for another problem, make sure Christ is the center of your ministry - loving God, loving each other. If not, be weary of using fluff (like visual media) as it may distract you from tending to a deeper issue.

  • steve foti said:

    If you are doing it for Jesus, do it with EXCELLENCE!!! Thanks New Worship media for helping us do that. If you are not doing it for Jesus…all the pretty pictures in the world ain’t go help ya!

  • Proctor said:

    I’m shocked & surprised at how long these comments have been going….all the way into December. Wow! I’m very encouraged by this discussion.

    The last two comments are really good.
    There is a balanced perspective that we all need. A balance in knowing that visual media/art can be a vehicle to reveal scriptural truth as well as realizing that environments (the context in which we are receiving content) makes a huge difference. But we also need to recognize that worship can take place without any technology or visuals at all…and it’s good to practice some visual silence from time to time to help remember this. Some of the fastest growing churches in the world don’t have access to any technology.
    If you see a peeked interest in church/worship (when normally things are “dead”) based solely on the fact that you added new flashy technology (with all the best intentions in the world) I would seriously think about raising a red flag.

    There are deeper issues going on. Most of us media techs aren’t trained to deal with those problems. But we create systems and we want to “fix” things.
    If change is only coming from tech, then nothing is changing.

    The danger of excellence is that it can easily turn into perfection. When that happens, you lose authenticity.
    This next decade will be marked by a call to authenticity in worship just like this past decade was marked by a call to excellence.

    These are exciting times.

    And by the way, that list above that I blogged was written by others…I just compiled them. The first 5 were written in 1949. :)

  • Wee Khee said:

    Proctor, I have similar thought too.

  • Michael Reed said:

    Okay, I’ll chime in. I’ve enjoyed reading the above comments and everyone has good input. Now here’s mine -

    I was involved in video, theater, and film production before I was active in my church as a saved, practicing Christian. To me, my video work is one layer or one link in the chain. Just like a play or movie has actors, lights, scenery, costumes and sound, they all have to layer together without one individual component standing out which causes a distraction to those viewing. That’s why I agree that meeting with the pastor, choir director, technical staff etc is important in making sure that your work is integrated and not independent. Example; If the background on the stage is soft, gradient lighting, avoid backgrounds with burning fire or hot space dust. Although cool and dramatic, it might stick out and distract viewers away from the message. If viewers are not distracted they will embrace this visual media and actually want more.

    Just my 2 cents (.04 cents after inflation is factored) God Bless!

  • Johnson said:

    Visual media should be an aid for PowerPoint presentations, movies, etc but we have to make sure we are not totally dependent on it. Once my pastor wasn’t happy the projector wasn’t working because the congregants didn’t know the words to the songs our worship team was singing. Well this misfortune exposed a very serious problem in most churches today. If we would learn the lyrics of songs and sing them to God throughout the week, will we really care if the lyrics are projected or not? It will just be an added bonus to see the words on a colorful and attractive screen but it wouldn’t be a necessity. How many people bring bibles to church or can even correctly identify the books in the bible and tell whether they are in the Old or New Testament? Most Christians can’t because we wouldn’t read it, let alone study it, and we know that once we come to church, scriptures will be projected on the screen. Sad but true but the good news is we can always change. It all starts in the heart and being aware of what we are doing wrong and acting on it.

  • Mardian said:

    I think this is the reason why God gives us creativity.. God is Creator, so He must be very creative.. Every designer (also multimedia designer) has creativity, its reflect that we are His creation.. I don’t want to talk about how the visual takes effect, but above that we should use it wise and help other.. If the visual media makes ppl come, they’re blessed, why dont we use it and blessing.. if the using of visual media makes ppl come to God, why dont we use it.. in other hand, dont depend on the visual media, once it broken, it’ll ruin the whole things. For me, using the best combination both text and visual will be best, of course with the knowledge about visual media.

    [i dont know for sure, but in the worship time, a lot of ppl usually close their eyes to worship]

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