Thursday, August 30, 2007

To Screen or Not to Screen: That is NOT the Question!

The United Methodist General Board of Discipleship maintains a worship resource page , with many wonderful and thought provoking resources. Recently in their “music” section, Dean McIntyre released a music musings titled: “To Screen or Not to Screen.” His article has sparked this rant, I mean these thoughts. The article is about the pros and cons of using projection screens in worship. Unfortunately, from the beginning the article seems destined to come down on the cons side. I invite you to read the article and decide for yourself. (You can find the article at,823).

I have serious problems with the article which I could address point by point, but will refrain in this blog. ( I invite both of you who read my blog to read the article and post what you think.). You see for me the question is not whether or not to use video projection but rather a deeper question; Are we willing to step out of the 1950s and create worship which speaks to most people today? That is the real question.

We live in a visual, video age. In 1950 only 9% of U.S. households owned TVs. Today over 98% own TVs. On average households watch over 8 hours of TV a day. It does not matter whether we think this is good or bad (that is a topic for another blog). Rather this is simply our reality. To ignore the use of projection, video and other forms of communication is to be irrelevant for a significant portion of our population.

For me the issue of projection or not projection is only the symptom of a greater problem; our failure to adapt to these changing times and to find ways to creatively use these new resources in worship and ministry. Adding projection to our worship only brings us up to the technology and reality of the 1980s (which is an improvement over our current 1950s practices). To completely ignore the use of this technology is to write off at least two generations of potential worshipers.

All of this illustrates the need for us to wrap our heads and hearts around change. We can no longer afford to pretend the changes in our world do not exist or will simply go away. They keep on happening and leave us farther behind.

I am not suggesting video projection is a fix for lousy worship. It is not. Done poorly it is a distraction and detriment to worship. But done well it enhances and enriches the worship experience.

By the way, in my experience projection does not simply appeal to youth and young adults. I hear older adults, particularly those with vision difficulties talk about how they can now see the words. I’ve seen adults who can not read music begin singing because they can follow the words. Persons new to the church can sing the songs and prayers “everybody knows” because the words are in front of them. (Remember we are rapidly approaching a time, if we are not already there, when the majority of people do not even know the Lord’s Prayer.)

I hope you will think about creative ways to respond to the changes in our world including the use of current technology to enhance the worship and ministry of the church.

Grace & peace,


1 comment:

Melissa said...

My church just added powerpoint to their services. We don't do the hymns, but we do just about everything else (I think we primarily don't do the hymns because my pastor is the primary slide-switcher). But now I'm excited about being able to do something just a *little* more creative in my sermons :-)