John Piper vs. Hollywood 3 Minutes At A Time

Kenny Jahng —  2009/08/02 — Leave a comment

John Piper does it. Tim Keller does it.

The question is, can every other preacher do it?

Great preaching is just one of those things where you know you’re looking at it when you see it.

But the question is can great preaching include illustrations that are more than literary depictions put forth with the vocal chords?

John Piper doesn’t think so!

It may not get you into hell, ‘in the short run’ says Piper as noted by some that follow his teaching on preaching. He says it is a crutch for the lazy in the pulpit. Just listen to his argument against using movie or other video clips as supporting sermon illustrations . . .

I don’t think the debate would center around effectiveness of a straight-verbal sermon, perhaps complete with initial tension provided by a Lowry Loop.

The question in my mind is if sermons that reference pop culture with video clips to frame the picture. Are they able to be just as effective? Or is their maximum potential short of the best auditory preaching?

I wonder about the value of movie-themed sermon series that incorporate an additional objective – attracting an audience whose original intention wasn’t necessarily to receive the Gospel message. In these cases, when it works well, it’s a classic bait-and-switch which pierces the heart and transforms a person’s faith journey in the most radical way.

The inclusion of movie clips serves more than just the purpose of supporting the message points. It serves as part of the marketing hook to bring people in the doors too. There has to be some value in this overlay to consider, right? Or is preaching supposed to stand alone conceptually in the paradigm of the Church even today?

And what about those preachers that are called to pastor a church, but may not be the most dynamic storytellers? Shouldn’t they be allowed to “fall back on” sermon illustration devices that keep the interest alive in the pews?

What are you thoughts? Is Piper completely right? (Does every preacher belong in the pulpit is a completely different blog post!)

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