In the first part of this list of tips for preaching with PowerPoint, we shared two ways to preach with PowerPoint. The first one said, don’t use PowerPoint because it’s ugly and doesn’t include the features modern worship software programs features like quickly inserting lyrics, Bible verses, videos and images. They cost more, but the users will produce better worship presentations.

Second, we talked about being more visual with sermon point or sermon idea slides. Use less text and include quality images.

Now lest jump into tip number three.

Stop Preaching with PowerPoint and Clip Art

Back in the early nineties clip art made church bulletins and newsletters look more attractive, but they don’t look so good on a presentation slide. In fact, clip art on slides looks amateurish and ugly. That’s why we suggested using quality images found using Google Image search, Flickr’s creative commons library or Wikipedia’s library of creative commons images. In the rare case that you can’t find one in one of those places, pay for a professionally created image or get a subscription to a database of worship media like the folks at ShareFaith offer.

flickr creative commons search
Search using the box in the upper right and then click the drop down box to show the creative commons filter.

In our last post, we showed the detailed tips for finding quality images using Google. Now lets look at how to find creative commons images on Flickr.  Go to Flickr and find the search box in the upper right corner. Enter the idea you want to illustrate. In our first tips post we searched for trophies to illustrate the idea that God honors humble servants.

After the site returns some images, click on the License: Any License drop down box and click on the last item under Creative Commons Only labelled Modifications allowed. We use that because the rights holder doesn’t mind people using the image so long as they give credit. The holder will also allow the person searching to change the image.

flickr image display screen
Click on the download button in the lower right corner.

This will filter the images returning a smaller number of photos. Find the one you like and click on it and then click on the download arrow in the lower right corner. The various sizes available will pop up. Choose the largest size available or pick View all sizes. Download the image and use it to create your slide.

I use Photoshop to create my slides. Learn how to use their typography features to create attractive slides with your sermon ideas and companion images (see above).

Adobe’s creative cloud subscription for photographers only costs $9.99/month and it includes Photoshop, Lightroom and mobile apps as well as some online features.

Prepare Your Sermon with Visuals in Mind

This takes a little more explaining than any of our other tips. During the sermon preparation process think about using visual medium to make your point.

biblical preaching amazon
Biblical Preaching is one of the best books on sermon preparation ever written.

First, let me share my assumptions about sermon preparation. I assume that you will preach an expository sermon. What does that mean? In his seminal work Biblical Preaching, Haddon Robinson defines expository preaching as follows:

Expository preaching is the communication of a biblical concept, derived from and transmitted through a historical, grammatical, and literary study of a passage in its context, which the Holy Spirit first applies to the personality and experience of the preacher, then through the preacher, applies to the hearers.

We don’t have time to go into all the steps a preacher must take to derive that Biblical concept from the text. I use an inductive approach to study. I go over the text repeatedly, first outlining the text in English. Then I write down my own observations and ask investigative questions using the journalistic interrogatives: who, what, when, where, why and how.

I come up with the “Big Idea” of the text, as Haddon Robinson calls the main idea of a passage. Now it’s time to present that idea. Here’s where thinking visually comes into the process. Here’s a few tips.

  • Compose the outline of the message so that it faithfully communicates the text’s Big Idea.
  • Look over the outline and think of a single overarching illustration that you can use to hang your whole idea on
  • Think about visual illustrations that you can use to show the audience the concepts
medals and awards
Photo source: Flickr (http://bit.ly/1G9mX7z)

We’ve been using the idea of God honoring humble servants. I focused on the honor part of that Big Idea. One visual way to communicate that is a trophy. I can find pictures of trophies and use stories about people receiving trophies. People win trophies in …

  • sporting events
  • 4H fairs
  • blue ribbons in school competitions or craft shows
  • medals placed on the chest of a soldier

Now I’ve got a number of visual ways to illustrate the idea of honor.

As I begin to craft my sermon outline and need illustrations for the sub-points or supporting ideas, these visual images can help. I’ll eventually need to talk about a humble servant. Maybe I can share a clip from a movie or TV show where a humble person got honored. Maybe I can illustrate undeserved reward with a story about a person who didn’t measure up, but was given a physical reward for their repentance and willingness to admit their failure.

While I’m preparing my sermon outline and coming up with illustrations, I will look for ideas that I can share visually and pick one of these over one that’s not as visual.

Go Old School with Object Lessons

We’re talking about preaching with multimedia. Object lessons create powerful visual illustrations of concepts. They’re real and people can even touch them or on occasion feel, smell or taste them. The more senses I use, the more likely the hearer will remember my point.

desmond tutu children semon
Photo source: Wikipedia

Preachers communicate with children in traditional churches using object lessons all the time. The adults often get more out of the children’s sermon due to these concrete visual and tactile object lessons. Why not use it in the sermon too.

Using the idea of a trophy or medal to illustrate honor, I can grab a trophy and show it during the sermon. If I care to, I might be able to create some inexpensive medals to hand out to the congregation as a way to touch the object and remember it later by taking it home with them.

One word of warning. Don’t over use the object lesson. It will lose it’s wow factor. Using one object lesson every few months will interest the hearers. Using one every week will feel like a gimmick and lose impact.

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