Some churches are already visually full of color and beauty. Stained glass with stories of Biblical events and stories surround the worshipper. But, a growing number of churches meet in rented schools, renovated warehouses, or even storefronts. So instead of being distracting, worship visuals might be essential in an environment where even a basic cross can’t be found.
Today, visual storytelling is our culture. From motion pictures, video games, and emojis, everything we do involves communication through pictures. With our faith being something we have a mission to pass on and to spread, it would be almost a crime to forgo a growth in our facility with visuals. In worship, a picture can truly act as a thousand words.
So, it's really up to you to decide how to use visuals in worship, but if we don’t use them and use them skillfully we are missing out on an opportunity to speak the language our culture speaks.
I'm going to get a little technical with you, but I promise it's worth it ;)
The Language Of Our People Today Is Visually Driven
Dr. Leonard Sweet in National Worship Leader Conference shared a new term he created: “Narra-phor” Dr. Sweet who is a thought leader in culturally connecting our faith, reminded the attendees that the language of the culture we live in today speaks with narrative and metaphor. Imagery and story are very visual. If we apply worship visuals with this in mind, we are actually speaking the right language.
The Bible Is Full Of Colorful Imagery
The “narra-phor” that Dr. Sweet mentioned is pertinent because in worship we are a people of the Book. The Bible is over 75% narrative. The images in these stories of the Bible provide a powerful opportunity to express our faith and worship. When we read the Psalms and the phrase “the Lord is my shepherd” is there, we see a picture. Showing this picture can communicate more than just saying the words. A young sheep is indeed in danger from wolves and other predators. Imagine how you can use visuals to communicate this rather than just speaking words.
Plus, our congregation's memory is enhanced when connected to something visual.
Not everything has to be a literal image though. Our moods, focus, and attention are impacted by excellent visuals that might be abstract. If we are singing a worship song and the words are about celebration, a visual that shows us this idea can actually help lead our people.
If We Apply Worship Visuals Without Good Forethought We Might Actually Distract
But, it's also important to recognize that some skills are involved. The skills needed have to do with knowing your people well and knowing the tools. Granted, a lot of this is trial and error. However, many best practices are out there to learn. The most important factor in being sure your use is not a distraction is in using visuals that are of high quality and appropriate for the service you are planning.
If Our Church History Is Fully Of Imagery In The Technology Of The Day, Why Would We Not Follow Suit Today?
What we display on a screen, or even our worship program can prove to enhance our people’s engagement in worship. Our prayers, sermons, and songs can all be more engaging with the skillful use of excellent imagery. For this reason, using visuals surely are essential and certainly not a distraction.