I got a call today from a salesman for a company called Bluefish TV. Among other things, they sell DVDs and video downloads of illustrations for pastors to use in sermons. I listened to the gentleman make his sales pitch which went something like this: Americans today have short attention spans because they are over-saturated with visual media. And though this is unfortunate, it means that you, as a preacher, are going to have a hard time getting people to listen to you for very long. Therefore, you should buy our video clips of illustrations and sprinkle them in your sermons because that's the sort of media to which people in our society have been conditioned, and it's the only way they're going to pay attention to you. Oh and, by the way, we are better than our competition because we give you more clips for less cash!
Now the obvious problem here is that the folks at Bluefish TV and their competition are part of the problem, not the solution. They are part of the problem because they are contributing to the over-saturation of society with visual media. Rather than encouraging pastors to be counter-cultural and preach the pure Word, they are calling for pastors to buy their clips and contribute to the lamentable reality that people won't listen unless there is a digital image rolling in the background.
The solution is for preachers to refuse to use video clips in their sermons. Preachers must remember that God has promised to save through the foolishness of preaching the gospel, which is God's power for salvation. God has not promised to work through our video clips. If he had, there would be more revivals breaking out in movie theaters. Yes, this is against the tide of the culture, but so is the gospel. We need to cultivate the spiritual disciplines of extending our attention spans and careful listening to biblical teaching. We have a limited amount of time to address our people with the Word of God on a weekly basis; we must not abdicate that time to Hollywood!