Friday, July 12, 2013
I’m pretty sure John Wesley never had to worry about some smart-aleck college student saying “You know that story you told last week? Well, the interwebs say it’s a lie!”
I’ll say it—the internet has ruined the art of making up a good sermon illustration. Even into the early-90s, pastors could repeat heart-breaking stories with utmost confidence that their sources were sound. The intent was pure, the message strong, and the audience incapable of proving otherwise…and then along came Google.
As recently as a decade ago, the pastor knew his stories were safe until people could get home to their PCs, and even then there was a good chance that they would forget what to search for while waiting for Windows to boot. Now smartphones have given parishioners the ability to fact-check before the illustration is even complete.
I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one who is opening a mobile browser the instant I hear: “In 1859, a tightrope walker named Blondin…” But there are always prying eyes noticing that you have left the YouVersion app and are now speed-reading a Wikipedia article.
As someone who has been involved in the art of illustration fact-checking since Blackberrys were cool, I feel it is my responsibility to help the rest of you who may not know the finer points of fact-checking (a.k.a. “testing the spirits”)
I don't find this funny. I do not find it funny that pastors would present illustrative stories as fat that are not fact and I do not find it funny that people would check up on it. I assume pastors have sources for their illustrations, and they usually do. Those sources can be wrong, but if the pastor did his/her homework - LET IT BE!
If the pastor did in fact make the illustration up of whole cloth then the problems are a lot deeper than just checking the veracity of the illustration on the internet.
This is not a problem, or it is a huge problem - but it is not funny.