Worship visuals can be a powerful enhancement to the experience. Since the early church, most notably in stained glass windows, visuals have been used to tell the story of Christ in a non-written manner. With the relatively new addition of digital technology to worship, the goal of telling the story in picture and visual image is even easier. With that being said, it is important to keep in mind a few critical tips:
- Choose a location for image projection that is visible, but not distracting. While a centrally placed image may be ideal visually, in many sanctuaries, it means covering something else. In those cases, if possible, I would suggest projecting to the side. When not possible, it is fairly easy to take a photo of what is behind the screen and project it on the screen when nothing else is happening (or even as a background for some things). Screens are not always necessary; walls work fine, especially in the beginning.
- While business graphic software is effective, there is much more flexibility and functionality in worship-specific software. There are several on the market that are good. These programs allow live editing, song databases, motion backgrounds, and seamless video integration. Some even allow live camera feeds or live Internet feeds to be used seamlessly.
- Think more graphically or pictorially and less as the projection being a large digital piece of paper. What I mean is that just like you plan a service around a central theme, plan a central visual theme that then shows up consistently (maybe in variations) throughout the service. This way, the theme of the service can be captured in the service itself and the images supporting it. This enables visual learners, which are much more prevalent in younger generations, to grasp and retain everything else.
- Stay away from sermon bullet points, making it look like a business presentation. Most people get this at work and don’t need it at worship. Think instead of images to support your points and leave the words sparse.
- Practice! Seamless and non-distracting is the key. The one comment you never want to hear after a serious technical glitch is, “we paid all this money for this?” Again, this is much easier with worship software, since it allows much smoother transitions between media.
Hope this helps! If you need technical assistance on projectors, placement, and software purchase advice, drop me a note! Make your worship better and share the story!
Technology in Worship
Brian Siegle, Pastor New Hope United Methodist Church
“Visual imagery is the primary language of our day and draws together people of all ages, races, genders, and classes.”
Doug Adams, Pacific School of Religion
Technology is simply a tool. It can be well used or poorly used. It can enhance the worship or detract from it. When the technology is transparent, it is working perfectly. When it becomes a focus, then it becomes intrusive and less effective.
What good is it?
- Visual technology allows the use of images to augment the spoken and sung word. Some people learn better by hearing, some by sight, some by touch, some by experience. Is it not better to engage all learning styles as much as possible in the course of worship?
- Video clips can make a point using several learning styles simultaneously
- Still images can give a focus for the text of the sermon or scripture, aiding in memory retention
- Announcements before the service – loop of 5-second slides gives important information
- Gives the young something to engage in during the worship – they are great operators
- The church is not engaging the general culture anymore
- Announcement screens should be readable in 5 seconds or less – more is not better.
- Too much text = hard to read screen.
- PowerPoint is nice, but a full worship presentation package is better, for it allows slide prep and cuing without showing what the operator is doing on the big screen – it also doesn’t handle video all that well.
- Technology does not replace printed media, only augments it – a high-quality worship bulletin is still a good idea to have.
- Just like a worship service has a theme, a cohesive visual theme helps cement the central thrust of the message in people’s minds, especially visual learners.
- PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE! Glitches and unplanned pauses really detract from the seamless inclusion of technology and tends to get responses like, “we paid all that money for this?”
- Contrast RatioDifference between dimmest and brightest objects. Should be 1000:1 or greater. Higher numbers=crisper image
- Front projectionThe projector puts the image on a surface reflecting the image. All light is reflected, including room light.
- Rear projectionThe projector puts the image on a surface transmitting the image. Only the projected image (or whatever is behind the screen) is seen
- KeystoneAdjustment is necessary to correct for vertical lens shift (should be +- 30°)
- LumensUnit of light brightness. More lumens = more cost, but brighter image.
- Screen Illumination ___Lumens____ Should be above 25 Foot Lamberts
- Screen Width Maximum distance(This answers the question – how big?)
- Throw RatioThrow distance (most ratios are below 2:1, dependent on projector and lens)
- Vertical lens shift The vertical disparity between center of projector and center of screen
- Dual video – one goes to projection screen, one goes to operator monitor. Desktop requires a non-standard dual-output video card. Almost all current laptops are dual-video capable, but not all have enough video memory. More dedicated video memory is better.
- Dual-core processors process video more effectively
- Recommend – External hard drive for backup and storage of archived items
- Ideally, should have a dedicated computer for presentation program.
- Media Shout – Good overall program with excellent features and user interface
- Sunday Plus – user-friendly program
- EZWorship – better technically, but less novice user-friendly.
- www.ccli.com – Copyright licensing for song lyrics
- www.cvli.com – Copyright licensing for movies
- www.textweek.com – references scripture to contemporary media
- www.midnightoil.com – high quality worship-specific images and training
- www.bluefishtv.com – high quality videos, great for teaching and for youth
- www.sermonspice.com – sermon illustration videos
- kickstarters (available through churchmedia.net or Cokesbury) – backgrounds
- worship backs (available through churchmedia.net) – backgrounds
- www.wingclips.com – secular movie database to sermon topics and illustrations
- www.screenvue.com – video
- www.imagebank.org.uk – stock photography
- www.footagefirm.com – stock photography and video
- www.artbeats.com – royalty-free images and video
- www.highwayvideo.com – trendy video clips
- www.churchmedia.net – variety of resources – shopping site
- www.partingwater.com – backgrounds
- www.videoanimation.com – motion background loops
- www.video4worship.com – scripture video
- www.visualworship.com – backgrounds
- www.worshipscapes.com – motion background loops
- www.sundaygraphx.com – lectionary-based image bank (not been updated in awhile)