Call – Opelika-Auburn News
A friend told me that dogs are no longer
trained in “obedience” schools. He said that trainers are now using “praise” to
train dogs. The technique is simple. Praise the dog before asking him to do a
trick, and then praise him after he has done it. I understand this
plan works well with old dogs as well as the young.
It makes sense to me. Praise works well
with people. Pressure almost never works. I learned a long time ago that it is
impossible to force people to embrace God. Only love will work, and praise is
an excellent way to express love.
Now that I run with that crowd known as
seniors, I feel the challenge daily to learn new ways of doing things or get
left behind. But I am determined to keep up. I don’t want anyone observing me
to shake his head and say, “Poor man; it is so hard to teach an old dog new
I may be an old dog but I figure one of
the best ways to stay alive is to keep on learning new tricks. Take preaching,
for example. Some exciting new things
are being done in the pulpit these days.
Many preachers are learning how to use
the latest technology to help them communicate their sermons. They still use
their voice to preach the message, but they are also adding power point and
video clips to help the audience “see” the sermon.
The first time I ever saw this done by
another preacher, I realized that technology will inevitably change the way
preaching is done in the future. People will no longer be satisfied merely to
hear a sermon. If they can experience it visually as well, they will soon not
settle for less.
We have always known that people retain
only a small portion of what they hear. But, on the other hand, they retain
much more of the content of what they both see and hear. That being the case,
now that the technology is available, preachers young and old must learn how to
share the good news visually as well as verbally. I fear that those who fail to
do so will soon be left behind in a cloud of dust.
Actually it is exciting to some of us
old dogs to learn some new tricks. I have always felt that if another man could
do something, I could do it too if I put my mind to it. And within reasonable limits I have found
that to be true. So these days I have a growing sense of excitement about my
plans to “catch” up with the latest technology in the pulpit.
Next Sunday in most churches is called
Palm Sunday. Most preachers will preach about the triumphal entry of Jesus into
Jerusalem, riding upon a donkey. I have done just that for 50 years. But next
Sunday’s sermon will be different from any I have ever preached.
My friends, Jim Jackson, Scott Kaak, and
Norm Brunelle, are helping me put together a sermon that will include key words
on a large screen, brief clips from a brilliant DVD version of Jesus as
portrayed by the Gospel of Matthew, some singing, and some sound effects by our
To make all this work well we have had
to secure a high quality projector, which uses a fairly expensive lens designed
for the exact distance from our sound booth to the large screen. We have sought
the advice of our friend William Brown, of Southern Electronics, as well.
Our plan extends beyond Palm Sunday to
Easter Sunday. If all goes as planned, we will leave Jesus visually on the
cross next Sunday, being crucified for the sins of the whole world. Then on
Easter Sunday, with the help of the Gospel on DVD, we will listen and watch as
the earthquake shakes the ground and the Risen Christ comes out of the tomb to
announce his victory over death and hell.
I can hardly wait to see how well we can
make “Media Shout” and DVD pump some visual power into the presentation of the
Gospel on a Sunday morning. Obviously I am hoping and praying for a very
positive response from the congregation.
If farmers can learn how to use a
satellite to keep up with their milk cows, then preachers can learn how to
utilize modern technology to communicate the faith in more exciting ways. Maybe some of the folks who got bored to
death by our wordy sermons will come back to church.
I expect some criticism. There will
always be those who think nothing should ever be changed. But I can handle
that. What I don’t think I can handle is the thought of sitting around the
front porch like an old dog that is too tired to learn a new trick.
A new day has dawned and there are new
ways to communicate old truths. There is a fast train moving down the tracks.
We can get on board or be left behind. I want to be on that train.