I had the opportunity to preach in my home church today. This church has supported me through my career changes, and my time at seminary. I’ve preached here more than any other place; the first time when I was seventeen.
Before I went to seminary, all of my sermons were accompanied by a Power Point presentation. I usually moved quite freely around the stage, and sometimes up and down the aisles. After my first contextual ministry course, where I read some very persuasive books on the mystery, and sanctity of preaching, and allowing the Spirit to work, led me to change my methods; I become a manuscript preacher. Some of the folks in my home church wondered about the change; expressed their desire to see some of the old way again. My explanations didn’t seem to hold water with them, so, I relented.
I preached today, with a full presentation to go with the message. I found out a couple of reasons why this might not be a practice for every week. First, it takes a lot of time. The sermon was written for my candidacy interview and I had preached it a few times before. It needed to be changed to match today, Palm Sunday, but, the biggest part of my prep this week was the presentation. It’s just a good thing I had already written the sermon.
The second issue is the technology itself. Today, for the second time, I used an i-pad to preach from. It seems like a good choice of resources, it saves about twenty sheets of paper every service. I used it for the first time a couple of weeks ago, flawlessly. This morning, I was unable to switch from the order of service to the sermon. Fortunately, J wouldn’t let me leave the house with out a paper back-up. I used it. Then, the presentation software froze and wouldn’t move to the first slide. It was a simple matter to escape and restart the presentation, but the whole thing left me feeling like I had started off on the wrong foot.
Most of the angst was my own. Even though folks knew there were technical difficulties, they are very forgiving, and the glitch was dealt with quickly, it made me wonder if maybe the distraction to the preacher, during the week and during the service, and to the congregation, does make concerns about the use of technology valid. On the other hand, I was able to see a number of younger members, often lost in their own thoughts, actually paying attention, and a number of congregants expressed their appreciation for the illustrations.
I finished more exhausted than usual, likely because manipulating text, presentation, and the actual speaking makes the job more complicated, but, the jury is still out, this likely won’t be the last time I use technology.