Thursday, October 12, 2006

The Purpose of Props

Here at Grace Church we have a team that helps to plan all of our Sunday morning worship services. We call them the, “Worship Design Team.” They are led by Bryan Nelson, who is our Worship Arts Director here at Grace. Here is how the process works. The Worship Design Team meets once a month for several hours on a Thursday night. Their job at this meeting is to plan the worship services two months in advance. In other words, at our October meeting we will plan the services for December. This means that in advance of this meeting I have to get out to this team the title, Scripture text, initial outline and direction in which I am looking to go in the messages for that month. We then go through a brainstorming process as the team looks for the best and most effective ways that we can use the whole service to communicate the main principle for each morning.

Part of this process includes asking ourselves, “What image comes to mind?” We don’t just want people to attend our worship service, we want them to learn and to go away challenged to allow the principles of Scripture and the power of the Spirit to change their lives. Life-change is always what we are after. As a result, we often come up with different props that we use as object lessons. Recently we have used a horse, a rudder, a sailboat, a car, fortune cookies and a karate demonstration.

Why use props? Are these just gimmicks that we use to entertain? Well, hopefully they do add some entertainment value to the morning. I see nothing wrong with having fun and I love hearing laughter in church. However, that is not the reason we use props. We use them because we realize that many people are “visual learners.” You can give them verbal instruction all day and it just won’t connect. But show them a picture and it is amazing how the principle comes to life for them. Our electronic culture today has elevated “visual learning.” It seems that this is how most people learn today. But does using a prop as a visual lesson work in church? Below is an e-mail that I received from someone who is new to Grace Church. She had faithfully attended and was actively involved in another church for 25 years before coming to Grace. Here is what she had to say.

At our previous church, we were taught the Bible every Sunday by a wonderful man. Although I walked out of the church every Sunday with a satisfaction that the service was beneficial, in reality I didn't remember what it was about that evening. I was more than a little embarrassed by this. After coming to Grace Church I realized that it wasn't really my fault. I realized that I am a visual learner. One of the first things that I noticed after attending for a few weeks is that I remembered messages not only from that week but I could tell others about the whole series and the messages associated with it. My husband is a back row guy so all of the visual aids are extremely beneficial for me. In addition, your messages not only provide guidance from the Word of God, but show us how to apply it and LIVE it! What a blessing that is for me.”

Another reason I love and enjoy using object lessons is because people come to church saying, “So, what’s going to happen today?” Anticipating church…that’s a very cool thing!

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