Images on PowerPoint
Many churches today are using various projection technology. This technology has inherent problems that should be considered201 however, it also has potential for introduction of symbol. During various times in the context of corporate worship it would be appropriate to project symbols for contemplation. This suggestion assumes that teaching has already taken place so the people understand the ideas behind the use of image. This use of image could be especially valuable as applied specifically to the various seasons of the church calendar. For example, there is a richness of image available around the seasons of Christmas, Epiphany and Easter.
Icons for the Home
Evangelicalism has historically heralded the importance of the printed word. Parishioners have been exhorted to read the bible for themselves – to learn to interpret and live the text. This has been the icon of choice for the home in modernity. Increasingly, however, music has played a similar role. Most evangelical church members own “worship” CDs, which they play in their homes and cars. This is a way for people to take home their corporate worship experience.
In many contexts, it may be appropriate to provide icons for worshipers to take to their homes. This is especially valuable if an icon has been used a number of times in corporate worship and there has been teaching on the substance and content of that icon. There are many places where individual icons can be purchased for home use. This provides the excellent possibility that corporate worship will continue into the personal and home lives of parishioners.
201 See Neil Postman, Technopoly (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1992) for a detailed discussion regarding the potential dangers of technology in contemporary society. Postman suggests that technology has the potential to contribute to the trivialization of symbol.
Seriousness of The Arts As They Relate To Faith
In an era where the arts are either popularized for the sake of financial gain or intellectualized to the point where they are no longer accessible to the general public, it is important that the church develop a proper approach to the use of the arts in worship. The Orthodox have much to teach in this area. The priestly role of the artist in Eastern churches establishes both a level of respect for those who paint as well as a significant level of accountability. In the West, it is often assumed that “artsy” people will be emotionally unstable and theologically weak. In a very real sense, this attitude has contributed to its reality – many of them fit the description. However, the priestly conception of the artist assumes significant spiritual maturity and commitment to contemplation. This kind of accountability of the artist raises the standard and expectation about lifestyle and spirituality. Evangelical churches can do this. Rather than consider spiritual maturity only important for those who deal with words, the expectation should be extended to those who deal with any kind of image.202 In other words, the artist (including the musician) should have the same level of accountability as the preacher. This is consistent with Orthodox ideology and is essential for the appropriate use of image in evangelical post-modernity.