I worshiped, as a first time visitor, at a neighboring church this past Sunday. The worship space was large (probably seating 1000 people) with the focus being a stage that was central, wide, and very simply appointed. I suspect the simplicity was intentional by the architect because it allowed for this space to be multifunctional while at the same time it guided congregants focus. The drama of the visual immediately caught my attention as I prepared myself to worship. Upstage was a very well orchestrated visual that contained a ribbon floating and cascading through midair with three interwoven objects. I suspected that the objects were part of a sermon series or the "message of the summer" but I really couldn't conjur up what the message was. Thankfulfully I did not leave this service perplexed because the pastor was generous enough to eloquently explain the visual in his message.
Should I have had to sit through three quarters of a worship experience before getting the connection to the visual? Maybe this was good, because it got me thinking. And, thankfully I didn't leave the space still in a quandry. I ponder this today because I believe a large part of including the visual in worship is educating those that experience it. Including a description in the worship bulletin, make a verbal connection during the message, and reinforcing themes with the music chosen for the day are easy ways to educate about the visual images in worship. Adding or subtracting visual components to your worship space will keep the message fresh. Including scriptural references and thought provoking questions about what people are seeing will only enhance the church coming together as one body and strengthen our knowledge in what we believe.