Preparing the Media

In the majority of our churches, what goes on the screen usually is the responsibility of the worship leader and the pastor (primarily for sermon slides). In many cases, volunteers may do much of the creation of the slides.

Think of the screen as a canvas upon which you create visuals used throughout the service to enhance the time of worship. Visuals are powerful communicators and should be carefully created to engage the worshipper for the entire worship experience. Mediocre slides will speak a message you should not want.

As you think through what will go on screen, here are eight uses for video in the church In no particular order:

  1. Announcements. Spoken announcements can be a worship killer, especially if they fall in the middle of a service. Move most announcements to projected slides/video as people enter the sanctuary. Also strongly utilize your church bulletin, newsletter, and social media. There are still a few announcements that will need to be verbalized at appropriate times.
  2. Mission Videos. What a great way to highlight the missions that your church supports or provide informational support for upcoming missions offerings. Most missions organizations provide high quality free videos for your use. Check out the multitudes of videos from BSCNC, NAMB, and IMB.
  3. Mini Movies. There are many sources of great, short videos that can be used to enhance the morning sermon or seasonal emphasis. There are many that make great calls to worship or mediations on scripture. Many can be used as transitional elements in the flow of worship. If you have people with video creation talent in your church–make your own. Check out a compilation of sources for mini-movies here.
  4. Testimony Videos. Help the church celebrate what God is doing in the lives of the members. Sometimes handing a person a microphone on Sunday morning to speak can produce unwanted consequences, but filming the testimony and doing some great editing can produce a powerful, succinct testimonial video that can be shown in worship. These can be especially powerful before baptisms.
  5. Lyric Displays of Congregational Songs. This is probably the first place a church entering the video world goes. Be careful not to make the mistake of many churches and only show the “contemporary” songs on screen and then sing the older songs from the hymnal. You may be inadvertently creating a division in your congregation by making the chasm even wider between differing styles of music. Show ALL lyrics on screen or none at all. You may still announce/print/display hymn numbers so that people may choose to use the book or the screen. In my experience, after a few months, very few people are using the books even though they first thought that was their preference. For a great resource on what to do with lyric displays, check out this resource and these previous posts.
  6. Sermon Support. Many pastors who use projected media only think of producing a PowerPoint presentation with an outline of the sermon, complete with flying bullet points, and such. While this may be helpful to some in following the message, think of ways to utilize images that capture the imagination to help drive home a point. The concept, “A picture is worth a thousand words” can be applied here. Mini-movies and movie clips can also be powerful. If you use movie clips, you do need to be aware of copyright issues and have the proper licenses.
  7. Images. At various times in the journey of the worship experience, consider using images to help guide the worshipper. If you have people with artistic skills in your church, they can create images that can be used in projection as well as other outlets in worship.
  8. Image magnification – if your worship center is large, you can use the video system to show close-ups of the pastor as he preaches or others who are leading worship to aid with communication.

There are other ways that the church can enhance worship though projected images. These are some of the most prevalent. Take time to imagine every moment of your service and intentionally plan what will be on screen.

Careful planning to utilize video with excellence is so important. Haphazardly throwing together media to use in worship can be more distracting than enhancing.

There are many applications (software and web-based services) that worship planners can use to compile and show the media during the service. Many churches use PowerPoint because they already have that software and may know how to use it. Unfortunately, PowerPoint is very limiting in what it can do and is not designed to handle the needs for worship. There are many applications today that are designed specifically for worship. Take a look at a compilation of free and fee-based options here. ProPresenter is my personal favorite and seemingly used by most churches I interface with that are using a worship presentation application. (NC Baptist churches can purchase this at discount through the worship/music office).

Here are some thoughts about the workflow for the week in preparation of the video component of worship.

  • Weeks earlier, when the sermon information was determined for a given Sunday, the worship planners began to look for appropriate video, if desired, to use in this service. It may have been professionally produced or created in-house. Information about these pieces is entered into my online planning app, or onto my spreadsheet or word doc to preserve the information for that service.
  • Look at the worship flow that you created for this service. Think through every piece of the service and determine what may enhance that part of the service with the use of the screen. Review the ideas in the list above to prompt your thinking.
  • Some areas are more easily defined than others. For instance, you may always display lyrics to the songs the congregation sings. In addition, you should determine if you will use a static (image) background or a moving (video) background. Will the background help reflect the words or will it be merely a blank canvas upon which the words are displayed?
  • Some areas may or may not be enhanced with an on-screen image. Some churches prefer something displayed all the time; others will have a blank screen part of the time.
  • As I begin compiling the media for worship, I open ProPresenter and the worship flow for the service (in or other form). I create a new playlist in ProPresenter for that service and begin dropping in or creating all the components for the service from beginning to end. For instance, there may be running ad slides as people are gathering. There may be static slides that help set the environment for prayer, the Lord’s Supper, etc. You may want to display Bible passages on screen as they are read individually or publicly.
  • As you create each song, make sure that the lyrics and song map match what you intend to do in worship. This will help prevent wrong lyrics coming up on screen in the worship service. If you are singing with open hymnals and the screen, make sure the words on screen match the ones in the hymnal.
  • For applications like ProPresenter, you can also determine what is shown on the rear screen (a separate display) to help the worship leaders carry out their responsibilities. Be very familiar with all the options and choose wisely to help the leaders.
  • Many pastors produce their own sermon support materials. If they are done in PowerPoint or Keynote, you can run them in their native applications, or preferably import the slides into your worship presentation software for a more seamless and controllable experience.
  • Once all your media is compiled and ready to go, you should create a tech sheet to help guide the volunteers that run the presentation during worship. I create tech notes in that will then print out on a personalized page for the technician, showing just the information they need.
  • Don’t forget to provide excellent training for your tech people.

Other helpful posts:

A Week in the Life of a Worship Leader: Preparing your media for worship Share on X

Here’s an overview of this series (see the intro here):

  • Planning the worship service. We will look at everything from sitting down with your pastor and exploring upcoming sermon concepts to choosing appropriate congregational and presentational music. We discuss how to find creative elements to infuse in the service and ways to organize your plan for best implementation.
  • Preparing the choir. Once songs are selected, how do we get the most out of our choirs/vocal teams to prepare them to be amazing worship leaders? How can we help them be successful? We talk about rehearsal planning and implementation, practice tracks, discipleship, and much more.
  • Preparing the band. We will deal with scheduling issues, technologies to assist you, band charts, mp3s, rehearsals, and more.
  • Preparing the media. How can our media enhance the worship service? How do we conceptualize and implement what will show on the screens in our church?
  • Preparing the congregation. This part is so often overlooked. How do we help our congregations personally prepare for our times of corporate worship? This can be a huge benefit for corporate worship when our people are adequately prepared.
  • Preparing personally for worship. How do you as a worship leader personally prepare for the corporate worship service? This can make a powerful impact on your leadership.
  • Corporate worship! How do we implement all that we have prepared for?