Worship Media Arts

Archive for Worship Media Leadership

How NOT to Think of Screens in Worship



Screens In Worship


Screens- many of us use them every week in worship. In the last decade, churches large and small have embraced visual technology to the point where they’ve almost become standard fixture along side pews, organs and altar tables. But do we really understand how to use them properly?


When I began my work as a media minister 16 years ago at a large well-known church in Ohio, leaders were just beginning to think about using screens in worship. For more than half of those years, my focus was mostly on convincing pastors, musicians and laypeople that screens had a place in the church. Things shifted several years ago. The the majority of people I speak to at seminars and in my consultation work have installed screens and are now trying to figure out why they haven’t magically transformed everything about worship. The fundamental problem is that we don’t fully understand the medium.


If we’re honest about it, many of us installed screens so that we could get rid of our hymnals. The funny thing about that is that most of the time, we hang on to the printed hymnals and the screen is just a repeat of a technology we’ve had at our disposal in worship for ages.


Of course, there is a segment within the population of the church thinks that the page is mightier than the fabric. In other words, the hymnal is seen as more holy or sacred than the screen. We end up providing both options to keep everyone happy.


At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter if hymnals are present or not. Truth is, the screen is underutilized and is often misused when we think of it as an enormous page-less book of songs.


The basic problem is that we treat the screen as if it’s a giant piece of paper. We put everything that used to be in the hymnal on it; we project bible verses, sermon points, and bulletins (announcements) on it; and the screen ultimately becomes a medium of support rather than one of transformative interpretive communication. Beyond random nature footage, out of focus lights, free floating particles, and other holy blobs of color, we are rarely intentional about the use of images on our screens.


The screen is NOT a giant piece of paper! A better metaphor for the screen is that of a canvas where we can paint powerful pictures that draw people in at a heart level. Image is an interpretive medium, with the power to help people see “more” than they otherwise could. The screen is like stained glass that we can change out every week.


We live in an image hungry, screen obsessed culture. From smart phones, to tablet devices; giant flat screen TVs, to movie screens; image is all around us – and we love it.


A 2005 study revealed that 65% of people are visual learners. The same study found that the brain processes visual information 60,000 times faster than text, and that 90% of information that comes to the brain is visual. Visual learning improves learning and retention by 400%.


Since image is the native language of the brain, it actually takes more mental energy to process and convert text into images than it does to simply take images and interpret their meaning. We also tend to have a more difficult time retaining what we read versus what we see.


When used properly, the screen is an incredible catalyst for growth. It can improve learning, create deep moments of connection and it greatly increases retention. The right images, when given the proper context, have the ability to lock a truth into our minds for a lifetime. When those truths take hold, they lead to personal faith development and a desire to change the world through missional action.


Here are 5 ways you can use the screen to be more visual in worship:

  1. Visual scripture – Rather than putting text on the screen when scripture is read, try using a single image that captures the story.
  2. Visual Points – Instead of typing characters on the screen, what are visuals that can say the same thing in the native language of our brains?
  3. Show, don’t just tell – If you’re telling a great story, grab an image (or images) and show it as you’re telling the story.
  4. Use b-roll – B-roll is the technical term for the footage you see running in the background during a news report that shows the scene where the news took place. I’ve seen pastors effectively use everything from an Olympic snowboard race to people on a mission trip run in the background in the background during sermons.
  5. Use the screen as a backdrop – Like in the theater, use the screen to create a scene.This works well for biblical and other types of storytelling.


What can you do this week in worship to engage and inspire the mind by painting pictures that will last a lifetime?


1 Comment

How to Better Lead Volunteers part 1

Let’s face it, in ministry we are often limited by our resources. We don’t have enough time, enough money and enough staff to accomplish everything we’d like to. Some churches choose to let that stop them. Others are diligent about fostering an environment where volunteers are essential partners in making ministry happen.

The double blessing is that volunteers are empowered, and grow in their faith, and more/better ministry happens. How do you maximize the staff/volunteer relationship? In this two-part series, we’ll take a look at how to make it happen by examining the way we approach language, respect, gratitude, visioning and relationship building.


First off, it may be time to adopt better language for our “volunteers”. At Ginghamsburg UMC where I got my start in ministry and where I now serve in an unpaid roll, the word “volunteer” isn’t used. Lead Pastor Mike Slaughter often says that, “Volunteers is the language of the club – volunteers serve at the convenience of their schedules and when it’s comfortable. Servant is the language of the Kingdom – a servant serves when the King calls regardless of their schedules or comfort level” The moniker used at Ginghamsburg for those in service is that of “unpaid servant”. “Unpaid servant” carries a much different tone than volunteer – one that implies a deeper dedication for a deeper purpose.


Unpaid servants that give of their time deserve respect from those of us in paid roles. While we never intend it, unpaid servants are sometimes treated as second-class citizens. Not everyone is called to fulltime ministry. Being paid to do ministry doesn’t make the efforts of service any more holy or valuable. I believe leaders sometimes lose site of this.

The role of the leader is to partner with servants to achieve great things. However, what sometimes happens, is leaders treat servants as flunkies whose purpose is to carry out tasks they don’t have time for or don’t want to do.

The number one way that leaders disrespect unpaid servants is in the failure to preplan. Those in unpaid roles who are giving of their time cannot react with the same degree of speed and attentiveness that those in paid rolls can. Asking for something late in the week for the weekend may create unneeded stress and frustration.

We’ve all heard tales of late night Google searches for music, graphics, video clips and obscure illustrations that make it into a presentation in the wee hours. This adds stress and detracts from sleep. For many of the servants I meet at seminars, this is the weekly norm. It doesn’t have to and shouldn’t be. Planning ahead by even by a week or two alleviates mounds of stress, and ultimately makes for better worship.

The second instance where well-intentioned leaders can disrespect servants is in their overuse. Unpaid servants serve because they want to, but as time goes on, a fine line can form between choice and obligation.

Leaders can’t help but be drawn to faithful, quality servants. When a leader knows a servant is dependable, they can begin to lean on them too heavily. This is the path to burnout.

If a leader is forced to use the same servants all the time, their team isn’t deep enough.

The third area of where leaders unintentionally show disrespect to their unpaid servants is in poor communication. When leaders ask their servants to participate in any way, in any aspect of the worship, they must remain committed to two-way communication.

Objectives that may seem clear to the leader may not be clear to the servant. When questions arise, the unpaid servant may need to connect with the leader via email, text or by phone. Ministry life is busy for those in leadership, and while leaders may not be available at every moment, email, texts and voicemail are great tools for asynchronous communication. Responses, even if brief, help clarify responsibilities and address questions that arise. Taking time to respond also show unpaid servants that the leader appreciates and respects their time.

For example, if a media director asks a servant to create a video for worship and has an initial conversation about direction and what is needed, the two might leave thinking there is an understanding about the piece. If the servant has 10 hours to give during the week (say 2 hours per night), and the next day they have follow up questions but the media director doesn’t respond for a day or two, the servant has lost 2 to 4 hours of valuable time. This puts the servant in the position of having to scramble to do more each day than originally budgeted. It could also mean that the video suffers because it is done in less time, or it could also mean the video doesn’t get finished at all. This puts both the leader and the servant in an awkward position.


The motivations of a servant aren’t compensation, glory or reward. It is nice however to be intentional about expressing gratitude for the contributions servants make in ministry.

Many unpaid servants work behind the scenes, and most are very comfortable in that place. They aren’t looking for recognition, but they do want to know that their work is of value. Public recognition isn’t required, but is a great way to express thanks, highlight the ministries of the church, and is always good for putting smiles on faces.

Public recognition might be as simple as the pastor mentioning an individual or ministry group in a sermon. It might also involve inviting servants in a certain ministry to stand for a quick handclap. Recognition might also be as complex as having a “Servant Appreciation Dinner” where staff/leadership serve the servants.

Other ways leaders can express gratitude to servants include hand written cards, personal phone calls, and other token gifts. If your church has a café or bookstore, offering a free coffee or gift certificate would be a very nice way to express gratitude for ongoing service.

One note on personal articles such as thank you cards and notes: they should really come from the leader, rather than the church secretary or an assistant. The more personal and specific they are, the better. Sending a carbon copy with a signature doesn’t have the same effect and may even have the opposite effect than desired.

These simple to implement ideas can take the leader/servant relationship to the next level. In the next post, we’ll look at the importance of and strategies for visioning and relationship building.


No Comments - Add One!

The Twelve Deals of Christmas: #4, 5 and 6


Twelve days, twelve deals!

Let us deck your halls with Midnight Oil boughs of holly and our 2010 12 Deals of Christmas series. Every day or two we’re going to announce a new, limited-time Christmas offer. These amazing deals will only last 48 hours and will only be available through Midnight Oil Productions. You ready? Here we go!

Creative Worship on DVD

Only $45 (regularly $69)

Get our trademark seminar on DVD for its lowest price ever! For two days only – good through Wed night Dec 9.

On the fifth deal of Christmas, we have….

Creative Worship Samples and Illustrations

Only $45 (regularly $69)

Get a great collection of worship media ready to use in worship – everything we show in our seminars on one DVD.

On the sixth deal of Christmas, we have….

Buy One Get One Free: Christmas Loops 1 and 2

Only $60 for both (regularly $120)

Buy one get one – get all 20 of our Christmas Loops with matching images for the price of one.


No Comments - Add One!

The Midnight Oil Education Library


Get all of our educational and training resources for one low, discounted bundle price!

With our library of educational resources expanding, we’ve decided to bundle them all together into one discounted resource. The new Midnight Oil Education Library includes all of our best theoretical and practical material for making you the best creative worship image maker you can be. Here is a list of what is available:

Read the rest of this entry »


No Comments - Add One!

New Resource: Worship Conference on DVD


Ready to experience powerful, creative, missional worship?

We’re excited to announce a new training DVD that will help you do all those things and more.

Prodigal Worship was created to equip pastors and laity with tools to design, develop and deliver high impact celebratory worship that connects God to people’s everyday lives.

The DVD (recorded April 13, 2010 at Trinity UMC in Fredrick, Maryland) features keynote addresses from Rev. Mike Slaughter, author of Change the World and Chief Dreamer of Ginghamsburg United Methodist Church, Len Wilson and Jason Moore of Midnight Oil Productions, and Rev. Olu Brown of Impact Church.

Be inspired, learn practical approaches to worship design and implementation and experience real worship as the keynote speakers share the latest thinking in powerful, moving worship.

The 2-DVD set is just $30! Order yours today.