There was a time in the Church when pretty much anything projected during a service was considered progressive and useful. But that simply isn’t the case anymore. It’s 2013 and media is everywhere. When guests walk into your church, it’s no longer impressive that you have a screen on the wall. Down the street, McDonalds has six of them trying to convince you that McCafe is just as tasty as Starbucks.
The Church has the greatest message on Earth and it deserves to be presented in a way that outshines all the other clutter fighting for our attention.
You might not have the equipment, software, or staff that you’d need to turn your creative vision into reality. However, there is one area that you can pour into that will make a huge difference no matter what budget you’re working with—content. I’ve visited numerous churches who didn’t have a tremendous budget for their video equipment, but was pleasantly surprised by their excellent use of content. So whether it’s countdowns, backgrounds, sermon slideshows, or mini-movies—it’s important to make sure they make a good impression and communicate the message well.
Here are five simple ways to improve your on-screen content that won’t break the bank:
1. Create A Consistent Theme
One of the most noticeable elements of a church’s Sunday morning projection is cohesion between multiple pieces of media. By selecting content that matches, you show the congregation that there was thought put into what’s on the screen. Choosing complementing colors, shapes, and animations in your motion backgrounds has a way of unifying the worship set and taking the crowd on a cohesive journey. It can take an already powerful experience to the next level. The easiest way to accomplish this is by using service packs or bundles from content producers that are designed to cover every aspect of a service.
2. Use Trending Styles
I’m always on the hunt for the latest trends in the design world. Start paying attention to the styles and imagery used on TV shows, movies, and magazines. Take regular visits to sites like Behance and Design Shack. Even take note of the small things like popular pins on Pinterest and the motion graphics on digital signage in stores. All of these things will point you to the visual language that people are speaking in our culture. Choose content that matches these trends, yet communicates your message well. And don’t be afraid to pull the plug on content that has gone out of style.
3. Know What Works With Your Setup
Not long ago, I downloaded a new collection of motions that I was really excited to use in our Sunday morning services. However, when I plugged them in for a test run, the colors that looked great on my iMac’s screen didn’t look so hot when shown on our projector. I had gotten so caught up in their cool design that I had forgotten the limitations of our video setup. This could have easily been avoided if I would have gone into my selection process with our equipment in mind. There’s a lot of value in knowing which colors work best on your screens. Limitations in your setup might also include screen size/visibility, lyrics fitting on certain backgrounds, or your computer not being able to handle playback of large media files.
4. Only Use Mini-movies That Echo Your Pastor’s Message
You won’t find a bigger advocate for mini-movies than me. I’m a big believer in their ability to captivate an audience more in 3 minutes than pastors typically do in 45 minutes. That being said, I’m not a fan of using them just for the sake of using them. I’ve sat through services and seen totally random video clips used simply to be “relevant”. But a mini-movie is best used to communicate a part of a pastor’s message that is otherwise hard to express in mere words. I recommend starting with a biblical message first, then searching for a video. (Rather than seeing a video and building a message around it.)
5. Buy From Reputable Sources
If you’ve visited my blog or checked out my tweets even once, you’ve probably noticed that I’m a bit of a freebie connoisseur. I love finding free resources around the web and sharing them with as many people as possible. But take it from the freebie dude—great content is going to cost money. There are occasional deals and freebie blessings, but not nearly enough to keep your media ministry on its feet. The best thing you can do is find a reliable content producer that is both trendy and fits the style of your church. Then, bite the bullet and purchase a subscription with them. This will give you the resources you need to be successful and save a ton of money—versus buying individual pieces of content.
There’s my top five. Do you have any other recommendations on how to improve on-screen content?
Kendall Conner is the founder of TheCreativePastor.com—a blog centered around making church media simple. He is a graphic designer, video editor, and all-around media geek.