David Bunce writes:
I don’t know if I am alone in being struck by some of the programmes and documentaries that are going around commemorating the 400th anniversary of the King James Version of the Bible. One of the things that really leapt out at me is a fresh appreciation of the radical idea of having the Bible in the vernacular – the witness to God’s action in history, expressed in words that everyone could understand.
This in many ways is the heart of what we are trying to do when we think about using media in worship. We are joining with the church at its best for the last 2000 years and asking how we can once again make the ancient story fresh, relevant and understandable to the context in which we find ourselves. We are trying to make our message understandable because we follow a God who, at Pentecost, gave the disciples the gift of other languages in order that they may speak words of life to those around them.
Therefore, when we are thinking about using media in worship we should be constantly thinking about what best helps people to engage with this God and to meet with him in their situations. This calls for a certain amount of critical reflection: what is applicable for some people might not be applicable for others. Maybe using social media will really help communicate in a situation where a church is engaging with large numbers of young people – but the same tool is maybe not so appropriate in some parts of the country where mobile phones are viewed amongst some people in the older generations as being a necessity at a best and an unwelcome intrusion that devalues face to face communication.
That said, I would like to offer a few thoughts on using media in worship.
1. As I have already said, try and reflect on whether your use of media is appropriate. Are you saying things in a way that is helping communication or excluding those who don’t resonate with the type of media you have chosen?
2. Make sure it’s good quality – there’s nothing worse than going to a Christian event with embarrassingly bad music, graphics, sound quality or public speaking skills. Now, by all means, this isn’t to say there has to be a priestly class of media professionals who alone are allowed to create media for church. But it does suggest that you should work to your strengths in a church rather than doing that which the church doesn’t have the skills to do.
3. Invest in those who produce media in your church. Look for opportunities for training and affirmation for those who do the sound, music, visuals, graphics, dance. Encourage them to always be pushing the boundaries of what they can do, to learn a new skill or technique.
4. Make sure it is appropriate to the over-all tone of the service. Just as in music where each musician is contributing a percentage of the whole, remember that whatever happens in media is for the overall whole of the worship service, not just a standalone item devoid of context.
5. Encourage and partner with non-Christians in media and local artists. Like Paul on Mars Hill in Acts 18, see and commend the beauty and truth in art and media and use it to point to the creator God from who all beauty and truth come.
David Bunce is a web designer. www.dodifferent.org.uk
Just one of the many fascinating articles at www.churchandmedia.net