While nearly 17% of churches surveyed said they use EasyWorship, 15% said they use SongShow Plus, almost 10% said they use Prologue Sunday Plus and just over 8% use MediaShout (the four leading worship presentation software packages) nearly 44% surveyed use PowerPoint.1
Clearly PowerPoint, though not designed with worship in mind, it is getting better all the time, and it is the church software that is most often used.
Yet, few churches utilize, much less see, its potential. Most settle for staid song texts on a simple background (often black or blue) and for a few sermon notes that pop up in a typical business presentation fashion. As if this is something every postmodern believer wants to see out of the office.
“True postmoderns struggle with PowerPoint. It’s too uniform, too monotonous, too noninteractive, too stock, too uncomplicated, too linear.” 2
While I find the above statement quite paradoxical, I struggle with it on its own terms. PowerPoint is a very powerful tool, and in the right hands it is all but uniform, monotonous, even non-interactive or linear. PowerPoint XP and 2003 are feature rich, and can be used in very interactive and non-linear ways.
For those not familiar with the newer PowerPoint versions, it is time to take a look at this creative package in, well, creative ways. There are many new TV-quality transitions and animations, several dynamic new tricks for this old dog (one of the neatest is motion paths) and most important of all a new way of showing and manipulating presentations.
PowerPoint now features a dual screen mode with two separate views – one for the operator and one for the audience (congregation). The congregation sees just what you want them to see; no shuffling through slides on-screen to get to where you want to be. The operator sees a program screen, a “what’s up next” preview task pane and a scrollable window containing readable thumbnails of every slide in the show.
Slides can be advanced or retreated using keyboard strokes, or by way of onscreen clickable buttons (seen only by the operator) or simply by clicking on any thumbnail in any sequence. In addition, hyperlinks (even invisible ones) can be added directly on the slides; these can be clicked in the congregational view (if you don’t mind them seeing the cursor) and the show will jump to the designated slide (or other, outside document, even a website).
Finally PowerPoint can play a number of popular media formats (including AVI, MPEG, Flash files, MP3, WAVs and animated GIFs as well as most popular picture formats including PNGs exported from PhotoShop with transparencies).
While many of the worship software packages boast these qualities, the tools can be quite cumbersome or do so at the cost of other features. Many of these products will create slides “out of thin air” from text and graphics databases, but allow little control over graphic design, which makes for some atrocious-looking trash. PowerPoint, on the other hand, requires that the creator enter the text and graphic(s) manually (or by way of cut and paste), but allows for exact manipulation of these elements, most pleasing to the eye of the designer.
So, now that we know what can be done, how do you and why would you do it?
The Sunday Morning Line-Up
Pre-service Announcement Slide Loop
Worship Song Lyric Screens
B-Roll Sermon Intro
Sermon Outline Points
Illustrative Sermon Video
Back to Sermon Outline Points
The announcement slides are a series of signboard-like panels that are set to play in a continuous loop (until the operator hits the Esc key). Each can be a static signboard or contain builds, animations, or even video (full screen or in a window/box). Sounds or music may also be added.
The welcome screen again may be static or contain a loopable media element.
The song lyrics can be projected on a plain background, on a beautiful and inspiring graphic background3 or even over video (using something like the new iworship! mpegs4). Some create their own text/graphics in PhotoShop and export them as jpegs (however this method writes the text “in stone” so one needs to be sure the spelling is right from the get-go).
Rather than sport a live-on-stage drama, a sketch can be taped (and edited) in advance via Premiere or FinalCut Pro and exported as an AVI and placed full screen in a slide. The video can be set to play when you advance to that slide. (The “screen generation” seems to find more authentication in media than in live theater.)
The B-Roll Intro may also present a video format or may be manufactured from various animations, masks, motion paths, and other elements including audio files like stingers and other sound effects set to play automatically, all with precision timing.5 Or use one of the pre-made metaphors found in collections from one of the many providers.6
We then advance to out first sermon slide. Generally these will consist of a themed background graphic over which an outline text build has been created. You may also imbed media to play on cue (but be careful to keep these simple and non-disruptive animated GIFs should be avoided at all costs). I personally like to supplement the outline and spoken text with additional information like source material and additional reading sources, etc.). People also find it useful to copy down short quotes (possibly with the authors photo), so put these on the screen as well.
Throw in another video segment (or map, chart or graph) as needed on the next slide followed by a return to the outline.
Close with another video if useful, maybe a song and then roll the announcement loop again as the service ends if appropriate.
All of these elements will add to the mnemonic quality of your service and provide for greater retention as well as providing a genuine enjoyable experience.
Though I have provided a number of static screen shots to supplement this article it is impossible to show how these elements are built and work together in a live setting in a magazine article such as this. You will have to jump in and experiment (I have found the manuals and even how-to “bibles” available in bookstores to be unenlightening). Or you can catch one of my seminars at the upcoming east coast Inspiration Technology Conference in May. Happy presenting!
1 Source: churchmedia.net
2 A is for Abductive: The Language of the Emerging Church, Leonard Sweet, Brian D. McLaren and Jerry Haselmayer; Zondervan, 2003.
3 I like the art from goodsalt.com
4 See itegritymusic.com
5 Available from a variety of libraries found on the web
6 I use essentials from NAMB at essentials.tv and Out of the Box from lumicon.com (also available from abingdonpress.com)