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Unleash ‘power of the visual,’ consultant urges church leaders

GLORIETA, N.M. (BP)–The world is in the midst of a visual revolution, and the church has to join in to minister effectively in the 21st century, a consultant for LifeWay Christian Resources said.
Steve Williams, a specialist in LifeWay’s discipleship and family leadership department, said the visual revolution began with the introduction of television in the 1940s and ‘50s, gained momentum with the popularity of the videocassette recorder (VCR) in the ‘70s and high-tech video games in the ‘80s. It is flourishing with the growth of the Internet in the last half of the ‘90s.
“Every generation has become a little more visual than the one before it,” Williams said. “The church has to respond to that by unleashing the power of the visual in worship services and classrooms.”
Williams led the July 18 seminar “Using Computer-Based Technology to Disciple” during Discipleship and Family Week at LifeWay Conference Center Glorieta.
He told participants people remember 30 percent of what they read within 24 hours. But they remember 70 percent of what they see within the same time frame. And if they see a picture, they comprehend three times as much.
“That has powerful implications for sharing the gospel,” Williams said.
He said a growing number of churches across the country are beginning to budget for and use equipment such as data and video projectors, scanners, digital cameras, video capture devices, portable computers and software, such as Microsoft’s PowerPoint for presentations and Adobe’s PhotoShop or Photo Deluxe for image editing.
“The quality of communications software and hardware is getting better and better and the price is getting lower and lower,” Williams said. “If churches will make this a part of their budget, they can build up their capabilities over time.”
Williams said churches are using electronic visual media in four main areas:
1) Worship center — using data or video projectors to project on screens or walls the words to hymns and choruses, sermon outlines, announcements, Scripture verses, music and video clips, etc.
2) Classrooms — using portable computers to project teaching outlines, information about future events/studies, class assignments and music and video clips that relate to Bible study lessons.
3) Hallways — using monitors throughout the church for announcements, taped or live worship and Bible study programs, music videos, touch screen maps of the church campus and other touch screen menus with other church-related information.
4) Living rooms — e-mail newsletters to members, church-related Internet websites, a pictorial church directory on diskette, distance learning (via computer) and community-building through Internet chat rooms and e-mail mailing lists.
How are churches staying up to date with the changes in technology? Most rely on technically savvy volunteers within their membership, Williams said, adding some assign the responsibility to a staff member, and a few are even have full-time “ministers of technology.”
Williams himself has consulted with several churches across the country, answering questions about visual communications and related technical needs. He has identified a team of 20 other tech-savvy professionals who have agreed to help him respond to such inquiries from churches.
Church leaders can contact Williams by: mail, c/o LifeWay Christian Resources, 127 Ninth Ave. North, Nashville, TN 37234; phone, (615) 251-2875; fax, (615) 251-3851; or e-mail, [email protected].

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  • Chip Alford