Visual Aids & Instrumental Music

A visitor to our services asked about our practice of using visual aids during the sermon. Specifically, it was asked why we oppose the use of instrumental music, but allow the use of a projector to display charts and graphics during the lesson.

The basic answer to this question involves distinguishing the difference between something which “aids” versus something that “adds.” For example, in baking cookies the process is “aided” by use of a baking pan, a spatula and a hot pad. In fact, it will be hard to bake cookies without these “aids.” But we will ruin the product if we “add” something to the list of ingredients. (Chocolate chips cookies don’t taste right when pickles are in the mix!)

In the same way, we can properly use things which “aid” our worship, so long as we do not change the end result. For instance, the Lord’s Supper is “aided” by the use a plate or tray on which the elements of the supper (bread and fruit of the vine) are distributed to each worshipper. This does not change the act of worship. It would be wrong, however, to add jelly to the bread, or to substitute a different drink instead of grape juice.

In the same way, we can use a “visual aid” during the preaching of a sermon. It has been repeatedly proven that people retain more of what they are taught when they both hear and see the main points of emphasis. Therefore, a printed outline or words written on a blackboard are helpful to the learning process. Similarly, a computer driven video projector is a significant “aid” in teaching God’s Word. As long as the end result (teaching Biblical truth) is not changed, the use of appropriate ”aids” is not wrong.

Now, what about music in worship? Some things will serve as valuable “aids.” A pitch pipe or tuning fork can help the leader start the songs correctly. Song books (or the projection of the songs on a screen) definitely improve our worship by keeping us all on the same verse, singing the same words. These are simply ”aids,” and the end result is not altered – we sing (Eph. 5:19, Col. 3:16). However, if we “add” an instrument to the mix we are doing something different. We are now “singing” and “playing,” and the latter is not authorized in New Testament worship (Col.3:17).