Q&R: Where do you get your motion backgrounds for your songs?

TWOTP_Blog_AdI get video loops and graphics from several places:

What are your favorite sites for graphics and videos?

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Weekly Worship Thought – Spiritual Gifts

giftWhat are your gifts? What do you bring to the table? What are your spiritual gifts? We believe that God gives the church every thing she needs to grow and thrive, through the spiritual gifts of the assembled body of Christ. What gifts has God given you that make you uniquely useful and beneficial to God’s people and for the good of the world? Have you ever taken a spiritual gift inventory? If you haven’t I invite you to take the one in the link. Obviously, church musicians are usually gifted in the area of music and worship leadership. That is why we do what we do every Sunday. But what other gifts might you have? What do you bring to the table that makes you unique and makes the church better? We can’t do the work of ministry unless we have resources. Our biggest resource is you – and God has gifted you to be a resource.

Evaluating Worship

(HT: Lester Ruth and Dean McIntyre from whom I borrowed)

(Download: EVALUATING WORSHIP Questionnaire)

Worship is always being evaluated. Although it may be informal, everyone that is sent forth from an assembled worshiping body has evaluated that service in one way or another. Evaluations might be based on any number of things: the number of people in attendance, the length of the sermon, the pronunciation of the lector, or the number of flubbed notes by the musician.

These questions are designed to move beyond surface-level evaluations into the deeper substance of worship. These questions help us consider things that are essential for all Christian worship, things that are faithful to a Lutheran heritage, and things that are biblically rooted. As a means of evaluation these questions can be applied to all types of worship regardless of time, contextual location, leadership, demographics, or style.

After each statement, select the response that best applies to your church/service. 

1 – Strongest agreement

2 – More agreement than disagreement

3 – Neutral, no response, don’t know

4 – More disagreement than agreement

5 – Strongest disagreement


  1. Our worship is richly Trinitarian (names the Trinity and all three Persons). 1 * 2 * 3 * 4 * 5
  2. God’s story of salvation is central to our worship. 1 * 2 * 3 * 4 * 5
  3. The ministry of word and sacrament is at the core of our worship. 1 * 2 * 3 * 4 * 5
  4. The primary symbols of communion table, baptismal font, and ambo/pulpit are present in our environment for worship. 1 * 2 * 3 * 4 * 5
  5. There is enough Scripture and scriptural content in our worship to tell a full, broad, deep, rich story of God’s salvation. 1 * 2 * 3 * 4 * 5
  6. Our worship is reflective of the ongoing ministry of Jesus Christ, risen and active today. 1 * 2 * 3 * 4 * 5
  7. The content of our prayers is true to Christ’s character and the breadth of his Lordship. 1 * 2 * 3 * 4 * 5
  8. Our worship seeks the full, conscious, and active participation of all people assembled. 1 * 2 * 3 * 4 * 5
  9. Our people are filled with the Holy Spirit in worship (they talk about what the Spirit tends to talk about and are filled with love). 1 * 2 * 3 * 4 * 5
  10. Our worship is sensitive to the needs of visitors and guests and takes their participation in worship seriously. 1 * 2 * 3 * 4 * 5
  11. The leaders of our assembly are reflective of the Body of Christ that transcends class, age, ethnicity, and gender. 1 * 2 * 3 * 4 * 5
  12. The language of our worship includes a balance of addressing God and addressing people. 1 * 2 * 3 * 4 * 5
  13. Our worship helps the congregation experience its relationship with God. 1 * 2 * 3 * 4 * 5
  14. Our worship is contextually relevant to the culture and setting of our people and community. 1 * 2 * 3 * 4 * 5
  15. Our worship is a feast for the senses (sight, hearing, touch, taste, and smell). 1 * 2 * 3 * 4 * 5
  16. Our worship is filled with life, vitality, and joy. 1 * 2 * 3 * 4 * 5
  17. Our worship offers opportunities for reflection, confession, and lament. 1 * 2 * 3 * 4 * 5
  18. Our worship welcomes and calls people into the baptismal life (united with the death and resurrection of Jesus). 1 * 2 * 3 * 4 * 5
  19. The word of God, read, preached, and sung by the assembly, is essential to our order of service. 1 * 2 * 3 * 4 * 5
  20. Our worship regularly experiences Christ’s presence at the table with bread and wine. 1 * 2 * 3 * 4 * 5
  21. Our worship sends us out as disciples of Jesus, following his mission of serving, blessing, and loving the world. 1 * 2 * 3 * 4 * 5

Beyond "Times New Roman" – Ideas on Projection in Worship


Slide1(On Saturday, May 12, 2012 I gave a workshop at the TX-LA Gulf Coast Synod Assembly. These are the notes/images from that workshop!)

Introduction

  • The video screen has become the new stained glass in 21st Century churches.
  • Why projection?
    • We live in a visual culture. The common currency for communication has shifted from text to images.
    • “It’s not either image, or text. It’s both/and, image and text. The Word became flesh and dwelt among us. Jesus was a man (image) living among us. He was also text (the Word become flesh).” ~ Leonard Sweet, The Gospel According to Starbucks

Basic components

How to make a great looking PowerPoint slide

  • Don’t just throw a Times New Roman font on a white screen! Creating beautiful slides is intensive and time-consuming.
  • Helpful Guidelines:
    • Don’t overload the slides with content (MAX: 6 lines of lyric, 6 words to summarize point).
    • Limit your font choices to 2. Choose fonts that are easy to read and use the styles consistently throughout your presentation.
    • Backgrounds:
      • Not distracting, but not too simple.
      • Choose a background that will attract the viewer’s eye to the words. If your background requires the words to have an outline and a drop shadow to be readable, it is no longer attracting the viewer’s eye to the words.
      • Use the negative space (Dark background/light text; light background/dark text).
      • Use imagery that tells the story of the text.
      • Avoid clipart at all costs. Use stock photography or artwork.
    • Use simple transitions (cross fade).

The move toward presentation software

  • CCLI integration, Bible integration, moving backgrounds, announcements, real-time editing, PowerPoint integration, etc.
  • EASY WORSHIP, ProPresenter4, MediaShout, ProWorship, etc.

Web resources for graphics

Q&A

Resources:

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Essential Stuff That Every Church Website Needs

NewWebsiteIn the years that I’ve been serving churches as a pastoral musician, the church website has fallen on my plate fairly consistently. Sometimes I volunteer to do it after I realize there is no one else doing it. Sometimes the responsibility is listed on the formal job description. Ten years ago, a church with a website was kind of a novelty. Launching a church website ten years ago was sort of like undertaking a mission to the moon. Today the church website is often the first piece in place when a church begins (before services begin, ministries start, etc). There is also a huge market catered to the religious industry, offering customized templates, financial giving services, and member social networking.

As simple or complex as your church website may be, here are the essential things that your church website needs to be useful (and some explanation why they are important):

HOME PAGE:

  • Name of Church/Ministry: This should be prominent, easy to read, and consistent across all pages. You usually place the name of the church in the “header” or “banner” area of your website. If you have a church logo with the name incorporated into it, you want to use it here and make sure the branding is consistent across all the pages of the website. If you don’t have a logo with the name incorporated into it, avoid just throwing the name of the church up there in Times New Roman or Comic Sans font. Doing so will be a visual indicator that the information is irrelevant or that you lack the time/ability to do things well.
  • Service Times: The service time information should be the next best placed on the page. It can be incorporated into the “banner” area with the name of the church, or it can appear in the “sidebar” area. Make it as easy to understand as possible, listing each individual service opportunity line by line. Include times and “am” or “pm.” If you have midweek or Sunday evening gatherings, list them as well. Many visitors will try a church at a time other than Sunday morning because they are committed somewhere else then. When service times change, update the website the week before the changes take place. When there is a special seasonal worship gathering, update the website with the information a month before the service takes place.
  • Location/Maps/Directions: It should be very easy to find directions to your gathering from your website. There are several ways to provide this information, some better than others. You can provide a link to Google Maps where people can type in their address and get directions. You can embed a Google Map in your website. You can insert a different map into your website with cross streets and prominent features/businesses to help people locate your gathering. You can provide step-by-step verbal instructions for drivers coming from several directions. If possible you should include information about public transportation opportunities and provide links to local time tables. You could also create a downloadable map/direction sheet for people to print out.
  • Photos: Some pictures on the home page are always a good idea – they put a human face on your organization. Avoid using stock photography. Stock photography can give a “plastic” look to your church, like only happy, perfect, physically attractive people belong to your church. Ideally you want to use pictures of your own people. If you can, hire a professional photographer to capture images of your gatherings and use the images on the website. Photos are also a way to be subversive in your church. If you’re trying to reach out to the young adult demographic, put pictures of young adults on your home page. If you’re trying to build a more racially diverse congregation, include multi-ethnic people on your home page. Avoid using pictures of your church building, worship space, or other facilities on the home page. They are less personal than human faces. It is acceptable to use pictures of the building on other pages within the website. Thou shalt not use clip art (doves, rainbows, crosses, praying hands, etc.).
  • Ideally all these items are visible “before the fold.” In other words, you can visibly see all these items on the page without having to scroll down to the bottom.
  • View your church website in a variety of internet browsers (IE, Safari, Chrome, Firefox, etc.) and on a variety of monitor sizes (laptop and desktop) to make sure the page formatting and photos look consistently good across them all.

MAIN MENU:

  • Avoid using more than 8 pages on the main menu listing. If you need more use subpages listed under the 8 main pages.
  • An “About Us” page should be listed in your main menu.  This section can include subpages that describes the mission, vision, and core values of your church. Another subpage to include is a staff listing. List the staff person’s name, email address, position, picture, and a brief biography to help connect to the leadership of the church. A beliefs subpage is also important. You want people to easily understand what brand of Christianity your church subscribes to. Your denominational website should offer language that you can borrow. Local adaptation is always preferred though – make it your own.
  • A “Contact Us” page should be listed in your main menu. This page lists how to get in contact with the church office. Physical address, mailing address, church office email address, phone number, fax number, emergency contact number, school or mother’s day out number, etc. This is also a great place to provide links to the church’s social networking pages: Facebook, Twitter, blog, etc. If you offer people a way to connect to your church, list the info here.
  • A “Guests” page should be listed in your main menu. This page has to be completely tailored for the person that has never been to your church before. Keep the language simple and jargon-free. Explain everything that a first-time guest would need to know: nursery, restrooms, children’s activities, parking lot, front entrance, coffee/refreshments, etc. Tell them exactly what they can expect when they pull into your church for the first time. Don’t turn it into a wishlist – make it accurate to what actually is. Assure them that they won’t be singled out as guests during the service. Give a breakdown of what the worship service might be like, describing the music, liturgy, and content of the service. If you have a gift for guests, tell them where they can find it. Be sure to conclude this page with an invitation to contact you either by email or phone with any questions they may have, and state that you look forward to seeing them at one of your events or services.
  • A “Ministries” page should be listed in your main menu. If small groups are a foundational part of your church’s mission they should have their own main menu page. Create a subpage for every major department or ministry area of the church. Give a description of what the ministry does, who can participate, and when they meet or serve. Provide contact information for how to get more information about each ministry.
  • A “Messages” page should be listed in your main menu. Use the page to link to audio/video from your weekly sermon. If you’re not recording at minimum the audio from your messages you should start. The technology and equipment required are easily accessible. Ask your favorite techie for help. You don’t have to have the message available every week, but you should at least offer some examples of a typical sermon. Guests want to know what you sound like and your style before they show up.
  • If you use online giving (and you should) a “Give” page should be listed in your main menu. There are many options for how to set this up and different providers to use. Do the research, consult your financial leaders in the church, and use a tool that works for you.

FOOTER:

  • The footer is the area at the bottom of each webpage. You want to have a consistent footer on the bottom of each page, in small print. Include the physical address of the church, the main email address, and the phone number.

Sources Consulted:

Top 5 Blogs in my Reader

One of the things I try to do everyday is read blogs. They keep me up to date on what is happening out in the world. They help me learn about technology, news, churches, worship trends, etc. Here are my top 5 favorite blogs (no particular order) I’m following in my reader right now:

  1. Collide Magazine Blog (http://www.collidemagazine.com/blog) – Blog of one of the few magazines I subscribe to. For a sample check out “Offering Shards of Glass
  2. Modern Worship (http://fpcbmodernworship.wordpress.com/) – Worship blog from First Presbyterian Church of Bellevue, NE. Check out their setting of “Psalm 100
  3. Don’t Eat the Fruit (http://donteatthefruit.com/) – Technology/theology guru John Dyer from Dallas. For a sample post check out “Why You Need a Technology Basket at Home
  4. Beyond Monochrome (http://www.beyondmonochrome.com/blog/) – Photography guru Walker Pickering. Really inspiring photos. Check out one of my favorites “Chelsea
  5. Tony Morgan (http://tonymorganlive.com/) – Simply strategic church guru. To get a feel for him, check out this sample post called “5 Attributes of a Church in Decline

And if you aren’t using a Reader to catch up on blogs, you’re missing out. It’s an essential tool. It’s easy and it streamlines everything. I prefer Google Reader. It lets you:

  • Google Reader constantly checks your favorite news sites and blogs for new content. Whether a site updates daily or monthly, you can be sure that you won’t miss a thing.
  • With your Google Reader public page, you can share your favorite items with your friends, simply by sending them to relevant links.
  • You can access your Google Reader account from any computer with online access. Whether you’re at home, at work or abroad, your subscriptions stay with you.

Essential Tools – Dropbox

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ghKdYKZ1Sts

This little thing has quickly improved the way I work and become organized. Instead of emailing myself documents to work on from home or print somewhere else, I drop them in my box, and have them everywhere. Laptop, desktop, iPhone, internet.

It can be helpful in ministry too. It is really easy to share recordings, song charts, and rotation schedules with your band/team.

Get a couple GB free, on me: https://www.dropbox.com/referrals/NTI3NjkwNTI5