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« What to do with Metaphors in Bible Translation? (Monday with Mounce 23) | Main | The God I Don't Understand Ch.1by Christopher J.H. Wright »


I have used multi-sensory preaching in recent months. Not to the extent of including smell and taste, but definitely a lot more on the visual side of things.

First of all, just adding a PowerPoint slide show to my sermons has gotten an amazing response. A lot of people in my congregation have noted that, having those bullet points on the screen behind me help them to follow the message easier.

Secondly, I've used movie clips already which again help to hold attention. Rather than me just explaining things, if I pop up a video clip, that breaks up the monotony as well as gives a more visual impact to the message.

Finally, I've used my music ministry team as "object lessons" for a couple of sermons. That physical observation of cause and effect really had an impact that people took with them.

Meanwhile, sermons in which it has just been me talking, while they have gotten good responses, there was obviously something with some of the people that was "Well, I kinda understood it, but I'm not sure." The visual stuff REALLY impacted things.

On the taste side, we had a kids story that EVERYONE even the grownups remember. The story was talking about the idea of "lavish" and how that comes off as "extravagant". The story teller made a MONSTROUS ice-cream Sunday to illustrate extravagance. "One scoop is nice... but a whole half gallon is EXTRAVAGANT". Taste REALLY brought that one home.

Looking forward to more posts!

Sorry Robert I misunderstood your last comment. It seemed like the "monstrous ice-cream sundae" was a visual prop rather then a taste one, unless everyone actually ate it. So really it wasn't using the taste senses at all.

Powerpoints can also be overused, I remember a preacher who always used them and they put his congregation to sleep. He got quite desperate towards the end of his time at the church, putting in nice pictures of the Grand Canyon and little movies from you-tube. But none of it worked people still actually slept during his sermons because they started to confuse it with Saturday night TV.

Hey Robert
What a great testimony regarding the impact of multi-sensory communication in your sermons. I love the use of the ice cream. It’s interesting; the tools we use for multi-sensory communication do not have to be complex. Sometimes, the simpler they are the greater the impact. Luke you are right about powerpoint. It can be sleep inducing if overused.
I am convinced that the use of multi-sensory communication will elevate attention levels, comprehension levels, and retention levels in our congregations. Our goal is to get people to become doers of the Word, but we cannot get people to do what they have not paid attention to. Nor, can we get them to do what they do not comprehend. Finally, we cannot get them to do what they don’t remember.
The research I conducted conclusively demonstrates that multi-sensory teaching will significantly increase all three leaning domains.

Don't listen to the Big Mac (john macarthur) he's too stuck on his own ideas.

This will be a very interesting series to read about Rick.

Can it be done for a short sermon (15-20 min)?

On the ice cream Sunday: I guess it was both visual AND taste because, once the service was done, everyone was invited to the fellowship hall for some of the "extravagant" ice cream Sunday... While we didn't "taste" it right there during the service, I swear everyone was drooling as the story-teller dumped about a gallon of ice cream, a full bottle of chocolate syrup, and a pile of other toppings into the largest bowl she could find.

As for PowerPoint: Yes, it can DEFINITELY be over done. PowerPoint should be in SUPPORT of the message, not in place of it. And making it too busy, too "movie" will detract from the impact.

As for question #1, I don't think Scripture speaks directly to the use or non-use of multi-sensory teaching, so I think we have to use our God-given wisdom and discernment as to what is appropriate. Jesus was obviously the master storyteller who used object lessons. If we are to imitate Him, why not do the same (again, using our God-given discernment as to what will teach vs. impress or entertain)? I think if we stay before God with our preaching and teaching, His guidance will help us to answer questions 2 and 3.

Clever your taking MacArthur to task, making it sound as if because Jesus addressed Peter in a way that connected to his learning style, I should preach multisensory...Well, since your keeping track of "major leaps," I'd say that's one.

James MacDonald spoke to some of this issue in a 2007 conference q&a.

He said:
"I hear constantly about preachers who use video clips, preachers who use dramas, little role plays or kinds of things like this to enhance their message...What I would say about this is that it’s a mistake...And I don’t think it’s wrong, I think it’s ineffective. I think it’s a cheap way...It’s like fast food. What's the preacher’s looking for? He’s looking for the 'aha' in the eyes of the people. And when I show a movie, a cartoon clip, something that people have seen, you see it in their eyes. Their like, 'I saw that too! Isn’t that cool! He showed that! I saw that!' And they see a connection, and they really want the connection. It’s good that they want that. The problem is that when you start to think about what [you’re connecting them to—'I’m entertained by the same things you are'—It really isn’t what it appears to be. And I think there’s something a lot more substantive than that and that’s at the point of the application of the text. You can meet that person at a different place. Instead of meeting them at the—'I saw the same movie too, yea there was an interesting principle there that has application in the Scripture'—I don’t think that’s nearly as good as the 'aha' of 'Wow! I see my life in the Bible. That is a mirror to me. I can see myself right here in the text, and the pastor understands what my life is like, and God’s Word is answering the question. I didn’t even know how to articulate (the question) but now he’s framing the question...I had been asking that! And there’s the answer right there in God’s Word.' I think it’s a lot better way—I think it’s a lot of work—I think it’s a way better way to connect with people."

I agree.

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