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Monthly Enewsletter from Midnight Oil Productions
Vol 5, Number 1 | January 06
New Year = New Articles, Products and More
Monthly Media Freebie Collection 05
Monthly Media Freebie
Spring 06 Seminar Coming Soon!
Purpose Driven Media
New Article: Team Roles
Ask the MO Guys Jan 06
A Personal Thank You From The MO Guys

One of the most popular destinations on our website is our Monthly Media Freebie, where every month we offer a new graphic or video to use in your own congregation. If you missed any of the freebies from 2005, now is your chance to catch up.

Because so many of you have requested Monthly Media Freebies from previous months, we have put together a special resource: The Monthly Media Freebie Collection 2005. This CD-ROM contains all 13 monthly media downloads for the year, including 5 videos and 8 sets of worship graphics (we did an extra freebie in May). If you missed some or had trouble downloading some of our bigger files, then this $25 resource may be for you.

Click here to learn more and see previews. NOTE: This limited time offer is only available now through January 31st and will not be offered again.

Monthly Media Freebie

Funny what a calendar does to our thinking. The start of a new year always seems to be the perfect time to talk about the big picture. How is your mission--your individual goals, your ministry mission? Such a conversation in your church needs an image and our monthly media freebie might help. Our Made for a Mission graphic set includes titled, untitled, and background versions, along with the layered Adobe Photoshop file so you can edit it as necessary to make it your own.

Click here to download the freebie now.

This month's Monthly Media Freebie is part of our On Purpose Media resource. It was originally created for the 40 Days of Purpose, but you don't have to be doing that campaign to utilize this resource. Anyone who can make metaphors such as a tree growing roots through the seasons or a potter spinning a wheel part of worship and teaching can get the most from the customizable resources on this disc. Learn more here.
Seminar 2006 Dates

Our spring tour is coming up quick so be sure to register if you’re interested in attending for the first time or in coming back with your team. We’ve got a number of dates in new cities so we’re excited to meet up with many of you for the first time.

Now through January 18, seminar registrations are discounted $10. This is a great opportunity to register a group for only $79 each. Click here to see more.

Learn more about our media and worship seminar, and why other people in ministry, in over 50 locations around North America in the past 5 years, are getting excited about becoming digital storytellers! And the best tip we can give you based on what we hear at every event is to bring along your pastor. The focus of the day is actually not really on technology, but rather on creativity.

Jan 18 Grapevine TX Worship Connection
Feb 18 Detroit Digital Storytellers Seminar
Feb 23 Oklahoma City Digital Storytellers Seminar
Feb 25 Houston Digital Storytellers Seminar
Mar 4 Boston Digital Storytellers Seminar
Mar 20-22 Phoenix FutureGen
Apr 22 Virginia Beach Digital Storytellers Seminar
Apr 29 Chicago Digital Storytellers Seminar
Anytime Your Computer Virtual Digital Storytellers Seminar


Plan for Next Year with More Christmas Ideas

For the last two years we have been proud to be a part of the dynamic, church-changing campaign, 40 Days of Purpose.

The goal of this phenomenal campaign, which has reached millions of people worldwide, is to introduce the biblical principles behind Rick Warren’s The Purpose Driven Life.  If you’ve been a part of this campaign, or even if you’ve read the book—shoot, if you haven’t been in a cave in the past few years—you’re aware of how influential Rick Warren’s ideas are. We’re honored that our humble little ministry has the opportunity to create the only officially endorsed worship media component for the 40 Days of Purpose.

If your church hasn’t yet experienced the 40 Days of Purpose, now is a great time. Purpose Driven is offering 5 different campaign opportunities between now and August.

And if/when you decide to do it, don’t forget the worship media that goes with it, our On Purpose Media.

Also keep in mind that all of our media includes layered Photoshop files, and wordless versions of graphics and videos. This means that even if you’re not doing 40 Days of Purpose, this resource could be helpful for your ministry too! For an example, check out our monthly media freebie above.

Monthly Media Freebie

Even the most casual football fan knows that once the holiday season is over, the next big event on the American cultural landscape is the Super Bowl. As the playoffs heat up the winter and the big game gets closer, we thought we’d take the opportunity to reflect on the whole “football is life” metaphor.

Whether in last place or first, no self-respecting team would dream of taking the field without a plan in place. Players don’t wait to decide who’s taking what position when they huddle up for the first time on the field. Each role is defined long before the season starts. Knowing what job to do and how to execute it is what makes teams work.

If your worship design team were about to play the big game, would you know what your position is? What about the others on the team? If your team has no game plan, you may find yourselves running in circles, and most likely finishing with a losing record. The same is true in planning worship. Maybe the solution to some of your worship planning headaches lies in a well-defined pre-game strategy.

Read about how to put a winning in place in our newest article,

Pregame Strategy: Assigning Roles in Worship Team Planning

Monthly Media Freebie Collection 2005

This month we also open up our mailbag and see what people are writing in about in our occasional column, Ask the MO Guys. The bag is pretty stuffed this time!

Dave Plekkenpol wonders about various software options to avoid the dreaded “eighth-grade poster board collage appearance of photos used in Power Point presentations.” Ugh—shudder. Dave, we highly recommend using Adobe image manipulation products.

They have two options, Elements and Photoshop: Elements is an inexpensive, consumer-oriented product that is under $100. Sometimes you can find it under $50. Photoshop is the full-fledged version that is over $600. The difference? Mainly, Photoshop offers a variety of functions for developing images for print publishing, whereas Elements is only for creating screen or web graphics. A lot of churches will start with Elements to learn the program and upgrade if and when they ever decide the need to create print versions of their graphics.

If either Adobe option is beyond your budget, you can check out the GIMP available for free at http://www.gimp.org/. This Photoshop-like program will give you some of the features available in Adobe’s two leading programs.

Dennis Suckow asks about a possible computer geek we might have stuffed in a closet somewhere who has compiled a hardware and software list for running our media. No geek, per se, Dennis, unless you include us, but our stuff works with any of the presentation programs, including MediaShout, Easy Worship, Sunday Plus, Song Show Plus, PowerPoint, etc. And as for hardware, any “off the shelf” PC or Mac made in the last few years should be able to play our videos back without a problem. As they say, big things, small packages.

Katie Elliott writes in with some nice compliments and also a question: What is the most effective what to display scripture? She says, “The scriptures that my pastor chooses are always so long, and I hate having such a huge block of text on the screen at one time. However, the pastor likes to have the scripture up there for him to reference throughout the sermon.  Do you have any ideas on how to tackle this dilemma?”

We feel your pain, Katie. Ready for a book-sized reply? Basically, it comes down to understanding the medium. Screens are best used for images, not text. While text can be put on the screen, simply focusing on letters and words is a poor use of a powerful opportunity to inspire and connect the Gospel to people through image. 

We like to encourage pastors to consider using print mediums such as bulletins, message outline inserts, and the like, for referencing scripture, and using the screen for visual representations. For example, instead of showing the text of Philip and the Ethiopian, show an image of a road to Jerusalem, which creates a visual backdrop and invites people to place themselves into the biblical story rather than remain detached analysts of the biblical story. By doing so people begin to make greater connections to the Bible than they do whenever playing the bouncing-ball-on-text game that having blocks of type on the screen can create. Of course, you can always place the text in the program or bulletin for those who want to follow along word-by-word.

Another problem is that when you put more than about 4 lines of type on the screen, people cannot process that information while listening someone speaks. With so much text, the preacher forces people to choose— to either ignore the screen and listen to the spoken word, or ignore the spoken word and read the screen. Rather, small phrases of 1-4 lines on the screen can reinforce the spoken word.  Studies have shown that retention is much greater when people simultaneously learn by hearing and seeing rather than simply by hearing, which we’re sure your pastor knows. So use the screen to work in concordance with the spoken word, not against it.

Another thing we often say—you asked! —is that we have heard screens are bad in worship because they encourage people to become “Bible lazy.” By only using screens to visualize scripture or highlight key words and phrases, the preacher can continue to invite people to follow with him/her in Bibles they have in their seats, which solves the “Bible lazy” issue.

If you must display text, make it in keeping with larger themes for the day. For example, a theme about learning might show words written in a chalk writing-looking font on a chalkboard rather than simply putting a big block of white Helvetica type over a generic background.

Hope this helps, Katie.

Mark Winner writes in with a resource question: “Hey, I just received Spark volume 3.  Did you include the fonts somewhere?  I'm trying to use "Treasure Hunters" with Adobe Photoshop 7.  I don't have the Americratika font.  If it is not included, is there a place to get it?”

Mark, for copyright purposes we’re not allowed to include the font. However, if you will open up the 2 page PDF creative guide contained within the same folder as the images on the spark CD-ROM, you will see a reference to where to get the font and how much it costs, if anything. Great last name, by the way.

Thanks everyone for writing and for your interest in our ministry. If you have a question of comment for us, we’d love to hear from you.

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