I was wondering how you can tell me that a church is not effectively reaching people because they use PowerPoint (multimedia presentations) as a tool.
You would have to show me to which question you are referring that PowerPoint is not effective. I would say that it is effective; but much of the time, not in a Scriptural way. Effective = “producing a decided, decisive, or desired effect; IMPRESSIVE, STRIKING” (Merriam-Webster’s 11th Collegiate Dictionary). Yes, it can be effective in bringing in larger crowds of people (depending upon how radical the presentation is — whether it is used to just post the sermons points one-by-one, or whether it incorporates a whole video projector presentation with it). Posting the sermon notes is probably not going to be too effective as to the size of the crowd, but engineering a whole video presentation will.
As tempting as it is for us today to use pictures, that is not the method that God ordained to reach people with the gospel. I Corinthians 1:21 says, “For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, IT PLEASED GOD BY THE FOOLISHNESS OF PREACHING TO SAVE THEM THAT BELIEVE.” This is what God says, despite what people may claim otherwise. Many people may claim that a whole theatrical performance would win more people, but that is not what God says. This present day fad of churches forsaking the clear preaching of God’s Word and using other methods reminds me of the rich man in hell, and his idea. Luke 16:19-31 says, “There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day: And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores, And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried; And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame. But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented. And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence. Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father’s house: For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment. Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them. And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent. And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.”
Worldly wisdom would say that the rich man in hell had a good idea — if someone could only go back from the dead, people would repent. But we are told here that if they do not believe what the Bible says, then they would not believe someone who actually came back from the dead. In our minds that are so impressed with the dramatic, that seems hard to comprehend — but it is true, because the Bible says that it is true. Proverbs 19:21 says, “There are many devices in a man’s heart; nevertheless the counsel of the LORD, that shall stand.” So it is with dazzling PowerPoint presentations. If people will not believe the plain preaching of God’s Word, they are not going to believe such a presentation, either.
I have heard preachers say, “I am progressive in methodology, but not with the message!” They are making reference to the fact that they are willing to change methods, but not change the message. These statements are usually made in reference to questions about their contemporary music, and their forsaking of preaching. The last preacher I heard say that has very contemporary music (Christian rock band) and uses plays or skits in a very regular manner in the services. The truth is that, in most instances, when the methods change that drastically, so does the message. The reason is that worldly methods attract a worldly crowd (as opposed to a crowd that is humbly seeking God with a repentant heart), and so if you preach repentance to that crowd, they are not going to come back the next Sunday. They came to be entertained — not to be preached at, and so they will not be back. So what you end up with is not being able to call sin as sin. It becomes a time of psychological games trying to show people that they are sinners, without being able to ever say it.
We must remember that God did not leave us a “picture book,” but a “Book of Words” — His holy words, the Bible. The Bible exalts words — not pictures. Proverbs 25:11 says, “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver.” That verse is exalting the right use of words. God told His people to destroy the pictures in the place where they would come. Numbers 33:51,52 says, “Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When ye are passed over Jordan into the land of Canaan; Then ye shall drive out all the inhabitants of the land from before you, and DESTROY ALL THEIR PICTURES, and destroy all their molten images, and quite pluck down all their high places.”
There is no way to give a PowerPoint presentation with pictures of the life of Samson, without causing the congregation to lust. Matthew 5:28 says, “But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.” There is no way to tell the story of David and Bathsheba with a pictured PowerPoint presentation, without causing the congregation to lust. There is no way to show Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden with a pictured PowerPoint presentation, without causing people to lust. The more picture-oriented that the church becomes, the more unscriptural it will become.