Multimedia Handbook for the Church
Ron Wilson. Elgin, IL: D.C. Cook, 1975. 142 pages.
Comprehensive texts on audio visual equipment (hardware) and materials (software) for certain Christian Education markets have been scarce. Gene Getz issued his Audio Visuals in the Church in 1959. It took thirteen years before he got around to a revision. Few other evangelicals entered the market. At the same time public schools have been flooded with textbooks, handbooks, resource guides, and manuals on audio visuals.
Getz’ book is a very thorough treatment ranging from biblical foundations for the use of audio visuals to methods of organizing storage and use in the church. He has chapters on objects, models, and exhibits; graphics; visual boards; non-projected pictures; filmstrip and slides; movies and overhead projection. He includes appendices on the use of audio visuals on the mission field, sources of materials, equipment, and media for teaching the use of audio visuals. Two hundred diagrams, photos, illustrations, and charts on the use of audio visuals as well as samples of graphics, Bible study charts, and learning tools make the book easily understood. Getz has insisted that his book illustrate what he promotes.
A mark of the changes in the field is Getz’ statement in his 1959 edition that overhead projection would never become a viable option in the church. His 1972 text devotes eighteen pages to the overhead, including diagrams for making an economical diazo developer.
Overhead projection has caught on faster in Mennonite Brethren churches than any tool since filmstrips. But software to supplement the church worker’s own improvisations (or copies of others) have been slow in coming. The picture is improving. David C. Cook performed a real service by offering its series of maps and topical resources (8 transparencies and 6-8 ditto masters per book) at under $10 per book. Broadman’s Bible map set is excellent but expensive at $40. Moody could hardly compete when they offered topical studies similar to Cook’s but at $15 to $18 each. Irvin Jensen’s Bible Study Charts, also done by Moody, offer a difference and appear worth the price. His three volumes (General Survey, Old Testament, New Testament) offer only sixteen transparencies but contain reproducible masters for over 200 Bible study charts including one on every book of the Bible ($10 each). Just recently Milliken, known for their quality software for the public school market, has entered Christian Education with a large selection of materials (12 transparencies and 12 ditto masters per set) for $8 each.
The Jensens’ book covers even a wider spectrum of audio visual media than Getz’s by adding chapters on television, puppets, and banners. The major contribution of this book is a chart after the discussion of each tool listing from four to ten general areas of use with specific ideas under each category. Hundreds of such idea listings make the book a stimulus for dried up imaginations. The Jensens’ book, however, relies almost entirely on verbal impression, a serious inconsistency.
Wilson’s small book is a quick overview of the field. Its 1975 copyright is reflected by a thirteen page chapter on video. He even counters arguments about the high cost of equipment with suggestions about making it pay for itself (rentals, produce mini-documentaries for local organizations, do amateur promotionals for small businesses).
Gerald McKee, editor of Cassette Information Services Newsletter, was saying in 1972 that religion and medicine had utilized the audio cassette more widely and quickly than any others. Many churches have undertaken various ministries utilizing this tool. Sogaard’s book is a very thorough coverage of this field. Tested in Latin American mission work, he shows ways to plan pre-evangelism, evangelistic emphases, nurture and training as a comprehensive program using cassettes. He details the process down to program formats (how many seconds per song), distribution systems, and cost factors.
While the field was once bare for evangelicals, good resources are now available to learn about the audio visual field from a book rather than from making one’s own collection of resources at Sunday School conventions.