Media, the Arts, and preaching

by Anna Blanch on July 18, 2009

John Piper recently wrote (three days ago) asking his readers “What are your thoughts on drama and movie clips in church services?” In the short piece Piper outlines his position:

I think the use of video and drama largely is a token of unbelief in the power of preaching. And I think that, to the degree that pastors begin to supplement their preaching with this entertaining spice to help people stay with them and be moved and get helped, it’s going to backfire. It’s going to backfire. It’s going to communicate that preaching is weak, preaching doesn’t save, preaching doesn’t hold, but entertainment does. And we’ll just go further and further. So we don’t do video clips during the sermon. We don’t do skits.

let preaching be preaching! Let’s have the arts in our churches, but don’t try to squash it all into Sunday morning. So I get worked up about these things. That’s where I am on that. Free. Nobody is going to go to hell because of this, in the short run.

Please go and read the whole piece (I have only excerpted here…)

Collide Magazine responded by “respectfully disagreeing.” However, I dopn’t think Scott McClellan and John Piper really disagree about the value of the arts – they are just coming at this from different starting points. Piper questions whether the arts, and media specifically, are being “squashed” in to Sunday services at the expense of preaching. More particularly Piper raises the concern that media, especially clips, are being used to cover over a multitude of weak sermons!

The discussion at the end of the Collide piece is worth reading as well. Thanks to Richard Clark at Christ and Pop Culture for alerting me to this.

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