An accidental blog

"If God is sovereign, then his lordship must extend over all of life, and it cannot be restricted to the walls of the church or within the Christian orbit." Abraham Kuyper Common Grace 1.1.

Monday, 9 March 2009

Review of Blackwood Multisensory Preaching and Teaching

The Power of Multisensory Preaching and Teaching
Rick Blackwood
Zondervan, 2008
ISBN978-0-310-28097-2 hbk
US $19.99
207 pp

The sermon has been described as one of the most ineffective teaching tools ever invented and in 1857, but sounding very contemporary, Trollope wrote in Barchester Towers:

"There is perhaps no greater hardship at present inflicted on mankind in civilised and free countries than the necessity of listening to sermons. No one but a preaching clergyman has, in these realms, the power of compelling an audience to sit silent, and be tormented."
And yet we continue to use the sermon as the main teaching tool in churches on a Sunday. Blackwood, senoir pastor of Christ Fellowship in Miami, Florida, writes to help us make the sermon more effective, "to increase attention, comprehension and retention"; and thus make it easier for us to become doers as well as hearers of the word. He wants good preachers to become great prachers. He maintains that it is not just talent, but also technique.

This is a distilled but easily-digestible version of Blackwood's PhD empirical research into the effectiveness of multisensory preaching.

The book is split into three parts. The first part (Chapters 1-6) look at the effects of a multisensory preaching. Multisensory preaching engages the ear, the eye and the hand. He found that in terms of making his message memorable it increased by 62.2% when visuals were added and by 74.6%when visuals and interaction were added to the verbal communication.
It has long been known that not everyone learns in the same way.

Blackwood points out that multisensory teaching is not new and even has biblical precedents. Hosea, married an adulterous woman; Jeremiah, walked around with an ox yoke around his shoulders; and Jesus used vines, coins, water, wheat and many other visuals to communicate his message.

In part 2 (Ch 7-9) looks at the "how?" Here is practical instruction to make us multisensory preachers. In part 3 (Ch 10-12) he provides some examples. These range from getting a recently married couple to come in full wedding regalia and show a video clip of them proposing to each other. This is to illustrate the public nature of baptism.

Other ideas include giving the audience penlights, key rings and this may be above the budget of a small UK church. And much of what Blackwood proposes assumes that resources are available. resources such as a stage, stage hands, technicians, digital projectors and screens and so on. Nevertheless, this book will provide food for thought and some useful ideas for teachers who want to increase attention, comprehension and retention.

Blackwood's message can be summed up as:

Who are we?
Where are we?
On a pew in a church.
What's the problem?
We are being bored by a flat one-dimensional sermons.
What's the solution?
Multisensory preaching; getting your local preacher to read and act on a copy of this book.

Publisher's website

1 comment:

Mark Roques said...

This has been a very helpful review. It sounds like a lot of reformational people could learn a trick or two from this book. Steve - i don't know how you find the time to do all this reading with a full-time teaching load! Keep up the great work!