Edward Tufte entitled his Sept 2003 article in Wired magazine, "PowerPoint is Evil." Tufte should know. He is professor emeritus of political science, computer science and statistics, and graphic design at Yale. I think pastors would benefit from reading his article. He begins it with this paragraph:
"Imagine a widely used and expensive prescription drug that promised to make us beautiful but didn't. Instead the drug had frequent, serious side effects: It induced stupidity, turned everyone into bores, wasted time, and degraded the quality and credibility of communication. These side effects would rightly lead to a worldwide product recall."
In case you missed it due to his subtletly, he's referring to PowerPoint. His primary contention is that the program elevates form over content. The dependency upon this form of communication is decreasing our ability to communicate effectively. In schools, children are learning not how to research and communicate content but instead learning how to animate graphics in a slideshow. The typical PowerPoint presentation "disrupts, dominates, and trivializes content."
I think Tufte is at least partly right, which is why I struggled with whether or not to personally implement PowerPoint in my preaching ministry. The difficulty was especially profound for me because I personally don't benefit when others use PowerPoint. In high school, PowerPoint wasn't really big yet, but by the time I was finishing seminary, it had saturated the classroom. Whenever I went to a seminary class and had a professor turn on the projector, I inwardly groaned. But others I know find it extremely useful, which indicates diversity of learning styles, I think.
The pastor, in my opinion, must be careful to preserve the unique genre of the sermon. The form must not overshadow the content. Ultimately, I decided to utilize PowerPoint but very sparingly. The slides are not designed to be the vehicle of communication but merely help people track with where I am in the progress of the message. My goal is that it would be very rare that a person would need to look at the PowerPoint at all to get the full impact of the message.