Seven Ways to Preach Visually
Preaching is clearly a major part of what goes on in churches all across the world. Preaching visually is one of best things we can do to make our teachings and messages clear to the Deaf people in our churches. The Deaf rely much more on their eyes than an audience of hearing people and our preaching and teaching should reflect that reality.
The best way to think of our preaching is that we need to look for every opportunity to show, not tell. Telling people that David killed Goliath with only a rock is much different that showing the story of David facing off with his colossal foe. This principle can also be used to illustrate abstract concepts as well as stories. Here are seven ways to make your sermons more visual:
- Use a slide-show or board. Whenever you can, have a slide-show or board ready when preaching to the Deaf. The more there is to see, the better! Make sure, however, that you do not fill up your slides with words. This becomes hard to read. I keep my slides to one sentence. I never let myself have more unless it is a verse. Also, you can combine these two tools. If you project your verse onto a whiteboard, you can annotate verse right there!
- Use handouts. I love handouts. I can put pictures, blanks, and cross references all in one place. If a verse on the screen is hard to see, they just need to look in their handout. If I am using a chart, I can include it in my hand out. Having blanks allows the kinaesthetic learners in the room to reinforce the information, too. They just work well for me!
- Act it out. Act out what you want to say! Most of us are familiar with this. It is a big part of using a signed language as opposed to a spoke one. Rather than tell people, do your best to opt for classifiers and pantomime to show what the action would have looked like.
- Use Pictures. When I first realized how powerful this can be was a few years ago when my pastor was preaching about joy. He showed a picture of a messy room and asked if that was due to bad weather outside the house. The answer is, “of course not!” He illustrated that inner turmoil is not due to outward circumstances, but because of our lack of inner peace. That was years ago, and that illustration has always stuck with me. It was clear and visual. For another example, if you are talking about the importance of our foundation being the Gospel of Jesus Christ, show a picture of the leaning tower of Pisa. Give the Deaf an example of what can happen when our foundation is wrong. Just be sure to use pictures that your audience will be able to connect with some they have known or experienced. (By the way, FreeImages.com is a fantastic source for high quality photos.)
- Use Videos. We live in an amazing time! Today, sites like YouTube and Vimeo offer a vast selection of illustrative videos. You can find everything from videos of Bible stories acted out to clips that make a point. There is a motivational video of a competitive runner falling, getting up, and subsequently winning the race, that I have used for an illustration of the importance of not giving up when you are serving God, but to run your race. With a little imagination you can find great illustrations online!
- Use Objects. We have written about object lessons before (here and here), but their effectiveness cannot be overstated! When I was a student in youth group, my youth pastor took a cup filled with dirty water and made the water crystal clear by pouring clean water into it. His point was that the only way to truly get the filth out of our lives is to saturate our life with things that are pure. The lesson has stuck for over a decade because object lessons work!
- Use People. Have people act out what you are trying to illustrate. One of the best examples I have ever seen of this was when my pastor tied an assistant pastor to himself with some rope. Then he drug him around the stage to illustrate how bitterness and unforgiveness weigh you down. It was a beautiful and original picture of a Biblical truth.
Our stakes are too high for us not to do everything in our power to improve our preaching. If we want to reach more Deaf people, we must show people Biblical truth, not merely tell it to them!
Do you have any great examples of these? Let us know in the comments!