Worship Media Arts

Big Ideas, How-To, and Articles on Worship, Media and the Arts

A Sticky Situation: Using Metaphors

<p>What was last week’s message about again? The pastor preached on?Ķ.um?Ķ..it was?Ķhmmm?Ķ?Ķ I can’t seem to remember.</p>
<p>Unfortunately, those exaggerated lines can be the reality for many who reflect on Sunday’s sermon later on in the week. It’s not necessarily that the message was bad or that it was particularly boring. It’s just that we have a hard time keeping all of those ideas in our brains for very long. Many times we can remember a particular verbal illustration, and maybe the sermon title, but more often than we’d like, the main ideas escape us when we try to recall them later.</p>
<p>How do we combat this retention problem? Here’s the solution that the teams I’ve been part of, have put into practice. Metaphor. Just about the time I was being taught in art school how to make commercial art stick in the mind of consumers (through colors, themes, tag lines and metaphors), the Ginghamsburg worship design began to discover that those same principals applied to worship. I wasn’t there yet, and when I did arrive, I felt right at home, because what I had learned in art school would be part of my weekly routine. There were several elements that were part of our planning each week, but the main glue that made the various pieces of worship stick together (and in worshiper’s brains later) was the metaphor.</p>
<p>Applying a metaphor to your message, simply takes the potentially abstract story or idea(s) your working with, and updates it (them) to a present day tangible equivalent. Substituting familiar objects, stories and situations can make archaic and hard to grasp texts, easy to understand and retain in our limited memory banks. It’s the glue that makes it stick!</p>
<p>When we would develop a successful metaphor, people in our congregation could easily recite the crux of a message months later. It was unbelievable. I heard folks talk about messages from years ago, and it was always tied to the metaphor. People were getting it, I mean, really getting it. Using metaphor to communicate biblical stories, allows us to take what may be hard to understand in today’s culture and present it in a way that makes sense to everyday people. It’s cheap, it’s fun, and with some experience it can be relatively easy.</p>
<p>So what does this look like? I have many favorites that I’ve helped develop over the last few years, and picking a favorite is hard. One that has had a lasting impact on my ministry was designed for a service at Ginghamsburg. I love to share the story of one woman’s reaction to a cinema metaphor we created in 1998. Our, then youth pastor, Efrem Smith was preaching on his experience as an African-American man attending a largely Caucasian Christian college. He described walking into a large hallway where a painting depicting heaven covered the walls. This painting, disturbingly filled only with Caucasian men, took Efrem by surprise. His reaction to such an image was to ask himself if he fit into a heaven that looks like that. It didn’t take long for him to figure out that he didn’t think that’s what heaven will look like at all. All who believe will dwell there together, regardless of race, gender, age and so on. So if segregation has no place on heaven, and we will be living there together in harmony, then why don’t we just live like that now, here on earth? He then presented his message title as a preview of heaven cueing off the idea of summer movie trailers that we all regularly see in the theater.</p>
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1 Comment so far »

  1. The MO Guys said,

    Wrote on March 29, 2006 @ 9:26 pm

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