Drama in the Pulpit
You won’t find me sitting in a theater watching a live show very often–largely due to cost and a lack of time–however, this past weekend I was afforded the opportunity to do just that. Side-stepping the content of the production, I came away largely refreshed. Why? Well the set and props were minimal and despite there being monologue, I was totally engrossed. It was refreshing to be captured in communication away from the multimedia saturated world I live in. You know what? I never found my mind wandering once, even without CGI or a PowerPoint presentation.
As I walked away I couldn’t help reflecting on the state of the pulpit. Many churches are incorporating multimedia everywhere throughout their service to tailor to this multimedia saturated culture I referred to. However, what I observed though this past weekend was that there need not be an appeal to multimedia to capture people’s attention if the communication is done well.
Aiding this move away from preaching, or at least a disdain for preaching, comes from those who have neglected the art of preaching. Preaching is much more than simply disseminating information. For example, if the actors in the production I saw simply read their lines, I would have walked out. Yet, a form of this is acceptable in our pulpits.
Lets just say, my reflections have left me challenged and convicted!
With these thoughts rolling through my mind the last few days, providentially, I found myself reading an article by R. C. Sproul in The Preacher and Preaching: Reviving the Art in the Twentieth Century. Sproul touched on the subject of drama in the pulpit.
“Preaching calls forth an emotional response. It is not merely an exercise in the transfer of information. The pulpit is the setting for drama. The gospel itself is dramatic. We are not speaking of the sense of drama as a contrived performance or as a make-believe world of play-acting. We are speaking of dramatic truth, truth that shatters the soul, then brings healing and sends the human spirit soaring. It must grieve the Holy Ghost when His dramatic Word is recited dispassionately. The preacher doesn’t make the gospel dramatic–it already is. To communicate the gospel dramatically is to fit preaching with the content. Dispassionate preaching is a lie–it denies the content it conveys.” (p. 113)
Sproul continues by giving tips on how to effectively bring drama into the pulpit, that is, into the preaching of God’s Word.
Now I’m going to continue thinking on the art of preaching, but here’s where I’m at right now. I know Paul refers to the message we preach as foolish, but I think it may be wrong to say that the method is foolish too. Why? I can’t help but thinking that a man of God faithfully proclaiming God’s already “dramatic Word” may not be as counter cultural as some would have us believe, but that it may just be the very refreshment this multimedia saturated generation needs.
As a kind of footnote, I’m going to try and get a hold of and read Danny Hyde’s In Living Color: Images of Christ and the Means of Grace as I know he writes about the multimedia God has already ordained in the church.