I preached recently on the verse that says:

Ephesians 4:22–24 (NIV) You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.

In an effort to make the message memorable, I wore an old pair of pants that I had used while painting the house. As I talked about taking off the old, I reached down and unbuckled my belt. There was an audible gasp in the room. I am not sure people felt better or worse when I took off my pants and they could see I had some gym shorts underneath. I explained that it is not enough to take off the old pants. I needed to put on a new pair of pants—which I did.

I don’t think they will soon forget.

I have really been leaning into this kind of thing since I read Rick Blackwood’s The Power of Multisensory Preaching and Teaching: Increase Attention, Comprehension, and Retention. I mentioned in a recent newsletter that on average, when using multi-sensory preaching, you can expect that people will…

  • Pay attention more (about twice as much; Rick measured)
  • Learn more (again, about twice as much)
  • Do more (twice as likely to have applied what they have learned)

Rick explains why:

During the doctoral research that gave birth to this book, I confirmed a hunch I had. People have higher levels of attention, comprehension, and retention when teaching is presented in a visually rich form. In fact, God wired our brains for visuals. According to 3M Corporation, we process visuals 60,000 times faster than text. This is because we take in data from text in a sequential fashion, while we process visuals in an instant. It is said that a picture is worth a thousand words. For example, it would take at least a thousand words to tell you about how Christ Fellowship, the church in Miami where I serve, was damaged during Hurricane Andrew. Or, I could show you a picture.


Which is faster? Which is more memorable? Which etches the image into your mind?

I’d like to invite you to join me in including more visuals in your preaching and teaching.

Resources to help you be more multi-sensory:

Teachers: check out my video preview of the Bible Studies for Life Sunday School Lessons at http://www.sundayschooluniversity.com/

Preachers: check out my new website http://stickysermon.com/ It is a work in progress, but here is what you can expect to find. Each sermon will include:

  • A PowerPoint—most of them with embedded videos that make the point stick
  • A 15 minute coaching video where I talk to you the preacher about what I have in mind for the message, and go over any visual aids I might use.
  • A Good Question Bible Study Lesson to be used by your small groups to further reinforce the message. The same power that was at work in the Purpose Driven Life Campaign will be at work in each week’s message.

Rick Blackwood, The Power of Multi-Sensory Preaching and Teaching (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 2008), 15.