Posted by: watchman | July 20, 2009

Preaching: Verbal Only?

Dr. John Piper, ever the proponent of preaching, gave this response to an Ask the Pastor question:

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.

To be fair, the entirety of his thoughts was more along the lines of that audio/visual resources are nota big deal. Piper is not the first one to say this type of thing. Dr. John MacArthur is also known to be ornery about audio/visual. Also, Bethlehem Baptist does utilize drama and other forms of communicating. However, Dr. Piper says there needs to be a delineation: “let drama be drama! And let preaching be preaching!”

There is an intrnsic problem in his thinking however. The reason that most people use audio visual resources to communicate in their message is that it is more effective. If we were all as effective at verbal communication as Dr. Piper, there would be a lot less audio visual. I love to hear Dr. Piper preach. I could listen to him for hours. However, I get bored listening to myself, and I can’t imagine what others are going through.  Therefore, I use audio/visual.

Isn’t that just entertainment and not REAL preaching? I could ask the same of Dr. Piper. I believe most people experience the revealing and worship of God when Dr. Piper preaches – it is awesome to hear a man with so much passion and knowledge and authenticity. However, there are a fair amount of groupies that gather to listen to him speak on a regular basis. They are more in love with the idea of John Piper, than actually hearing from God. That sounds more like entertainment than preaching to me.So, the same problems are prevalent no matter the communications medium.

What are your thoughts? Does your church utlize audio/visual resources in worship? Should preaching be verbal only?



  1. sow the seed in whatever form….
    There will be people only there for certain reasons no matter where you are…to limit different ways of communication or to judge a way of certain communication, writing it off as entertainment is putting limits on God. He can use it….I’m not saying I don’t believe that some forms aren’t just entertainment…but I do believe God is God , and He can and does use communication that some would say is sappy to draw people unto himself.

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