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Older Folks Like Visuals Too
As technology has worked its way into our sanctuaries over the last two decades, generation gaps have grown into chasms. Any church over 30 years old is having to traverse the balance between their young adult and senior members by finding relevant ways to teach their congregation while staying grounded in biblical principles and tradition. For many this balance has been the cause of frustration and conflict. Churches with largely older members have often decided that avoiding change is the best course of action, resulting in a loss of dynamic energy that can lead to decreased membership and effectiveness. However the gap can be bridged with good communication.

The key to effective communication is to understand what you are trying to communicate. This may seem over simplified, but this approach is one that many church leaders miss as they decide to purchase the latest gadget or—at the other extreme—choose to avoid innovative teaching styles and stick with the “tried and true.”

Our job is both simple and yet vastly complex. We are called to preach the Gospel, but we also need to preach with enough relevance that congregations will leave with the message on their minds and the Word on their lips. In the end it is the Spirit’s job to cultivate that message in the heart of each attendee, but we must be as effective as possible in planting the message.

With that in mind, here are some thoughts about adding visuals into more traditional churches.

  1. Older folks like visuals too. Some churches believe that older congregations won’t change to a more visual style. But many preachers have been pleasantly surprised at the positive response that visuals receive from seniors in the church. Visuals aid the hearing impaired with easy to follow slides that incorporate both of text and pictures. If you have a lot of retirees attending your church, you might find success by using still images, focusing on one to two large traditional graphics per week.
  2. Use traditional images from modern sources. Look for imagery that offers traditional biblical concepts that older generations can relate to, while maintaining a modern quality standard that younger audiences need to feel relevant. Images created before the mid-1990’s are scanned from fine art prints, which look great on a wall but may not have the desired effect within a slide presentation.
  3. Keep it simple. If you lead a traditional or blended church with a mix of tastes, you’ll find that basic visuals will have the most impact. Stick with powerful iconic images that are relevant to the message. And try to avoid moderate to fast moving backgrounds for worship, since lots of people can find them distracting. Remember, when it comes to visual presentation, less is often more.

Do you have a tip or suggestion for effective church communication? Tell us how you are using visuals at your church. Email us at info@sermonview.com.

Copyright 2007, Sermonview. Reprinted with permission.