In his essay “The Sermon in Public Worship,” H.E. Singley III refers to an article written some years back about PowerPoint. Julia Keller stated that PowerPoint invariably dumbs down complicated material, to the detriment of both presenter and audience: it chops up “complex ideas and information into bite-sized nuggets of a few words” and then purees “those nuggets into bullet items of even fewer words.” Singley notes that our faith contains many transcendent themes. So he argues:
We risk oversimplifying, indeed, handicapping the Scriptures as preaching is distilled into PowerPoint presentations. A better approach would draw on the rich potential of language for the proclamation of the God who has chosen to reveal himself via the spoken (and then the written Word).In The Moody Handbook of Preaching, ed. John Koessler (Chicago: Moody, 2008), p.47
In Aiming to Please, I discussed the use of projectors in worship. They can have a limited use as a sort of digital means of conveying the order of worship. But for preaching and for singing? Shortcomings are often overlooked. Singley identifies a couple:
I must add that musical literacy has suffered in our churches due to projection technologies. For instance, the rapturous sound of a congregation singing an unaccompanied hymn in four-part harmony is a relic of the past in some churches. In addition, the lack of written music due to the projection of words only cripples the learning of new songs. The answer? Hymnals along with printed copies — with both words and music — of songs old or new that may not be in the hymnal. (p.48)
For readers in some Reformed churches, you’ll have to mentally shift some of that, but you get the gist, I’m sure. Whether it’s a Psalter-Hymnal, a Psalter, or a Book of Praise, the physical book is still preferable.
Perhaps I’m somewhat of a Luddite, but new technology isn’t always better in every situation.