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.” Ughshudder. 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 sayyou 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.