Video Projectors in Worship

Video Projectors have greatly enhanced worship in many churches. However, worshippers can often come away frustrated in worship because of poor use of video projectors. Sometimes things go wrong, and we all know this, but it is often unnecessary problems which spoil the worship. Here are some recommended tips which will make the worship experience much better for everyone. 

Changing Slides

There are few things more annoying or frustrating in worship than the operator of the video projector changing to the next slide fractionally late. For those who know the song well it is fine, but for any unsure of the words it creates a hesitancy and an unnecessary wait which means the singing of the next line has started before you can join in. The reality is the next slide is needed just before the last words of the previous one are sung/said - people read ahead of what they're saying/singing.

The normal cause is the Operator not being familiar with the song and/or the worship leader chopping backwards and forwards with verses and choruses. I do not want to limit the Spirit, but most worship leaders know how they will play a song and need to either convey this to the Operator or put all the slides in the right order on the computer in advance. Sometimes the Operator simply does not realise they are changing slides too late and nobody likes to say. Please, for the sake of new people and visitors, gently explain how important this is.

Font Size

a. I have no idea why some churches insist on massive font size when it means that you can only get one or two lines of a song verse or prayer on a page. Not only does this make ‘a’ more of a problem, it ignores the fact of how we read and make sense of things. Where possible, have a full verse or full prayer on a page. People scan ahead without realising it to make sense of the words and if there is only one line they cannot do that. If it is because of the need to have the words at the top of the screen, then you need to relocate your screen. 

b. AND, make sure that you do not have the whole of a verse on one page except for one or two words which appear alone on a separate page. There is no need for this it is distracting and annoying. 

c. But do be careful not to make it too small as well putting text on the screen that is too small to read is worse than useless. Try to find an appropriate font size that works and use it consistently. In most situations, choose a font size that fits 8-12 lines of text on full screen

d. Also, a simple clear typeface (e.g. Arial, Calibri, Tahoma) is easier to read than something more traditional like Times New Roman or a faux-handwritten font. Find one that works and consistently use it. 

Alignment

Many churches centre the words on a page thinking this looks good. It might do, but it is not good for anyone Dyslexic. It is by far better to align the words to the left as then people who suffer dyslexia can find the beginning of the next line. Also, some churches think it trendy to run all the words of a song together and not have a new line – this is also very confusing for people and makes it much more difficult to read. In addition, some churches use only lower case and no capitals – this also is unhelpful in conveying the meaning, BUT, please do not use capital letters throughout which is even worse. 

Backgrounds

a. Churches use pictures in the background to song words. Beware of the background distracting rather than add meaning. Do we want people to be admiring the pictures in the background or using the words for worship? 

b. Whether you use pictures or not, a partially-sighted friend of the Mission Team has suggested that maintaining a strong contrast is key to making text easier to read (i.e. dark on light or vice versa).

c. One of our Comms team colleagues produced a series of moving (video) backgrounds designed to have large areas of consistent colour and tone for laying words over - some of them are available here.

b. Correcting wording errors. Too often there are errors in spelling and no one gets round to correcting them. Make sure there is one person who has overall responsibility for correcting any errors and actually does it. Some are amusing, some are simply sloppy and give a bad impression and show we are not giving God our best in worship. 

Wording

a. A cursory glance between two different hymnbooks should soon tell you that a number of traditional hymns come with different words and with a different number of verses. We suggest using the words from the book the congregation are most familiar with. It is also highly recommended that you make sure your musicians are expecting the same number of verses as will appear on the screen. This area can be especially tricky at Christmas, where different words to what may be expected can be particularly poorly received, but it’s equally true that the better known versions are not particularly inclusive. 

b. Correcting wording errors. Too often there are errors in spelling and no one gets round to correcting them. Make sure there is one person who has overall responsibility for correcting any errors and actually does it. Some are amusing, some are simply sloppy and give a bad impression and show we are not giving God our best in worship. 

Slide Numbering

One benefit of Hymnbooks over Projection is that the congregation can easily see how far through a song they may be, either saving up a special effort for the final verse (or perhaps a sigh of relief!). Some projection systems do this automatically but if yours doesn’t, appropriate numbering (e.g. ‘5/7’) at the bottom right corner of each slide in a slightly smaller font can be really helpful. 

The Operator

This is a vital area of service as it can either enhance worship by enabling people to use the words of the songs or liturgy to connect with the Lord, or it can hinder worship by making it difficult to follow the words. It is therefore important to see this as a ministry and so this should affect how we choose people to do it, how we train them to do it well, and how we affirm and thank them for this area of ministry. 

Preparation

To quote a version of an old maxim, ‘Proper Preparation Prevents Pretty Poor Presentation Performance’. It is amazing how often Murphy’s Law can strike. It is always beneficial to run through a presentation beforehand; if everything works as it should then it’s fine, if something fails then there is a chance to sort it out. (A further ‘P’ to be aware of is for ‘PA’ – make sure that if you are using a video clip, you can get the sound to properly work through your sound system). It is far better to be confusedly scratching your head BEFORE a service than DURING it! If you are expecting a guest speaker to have their own material they may wish to include, it may irritate them to chase them for that material sufficiently before the service – but it is likely to irritate them a lot more it you can’t make it work or do so hamfistedly. Try to train regular Leaders and Preachers to make sure the Operator has what is needed sufficiently before the service to reduce tension. 

Technology

Try to stick with one computer to link to the video projector if possible; different computers may display the same set of slides with different layouts. If you need to use 2 different machines in one service, practice beforehand that you can switch between them efficiently, and that they both display as you wish them to.

Brightness

All too often it is difficult to see a projector screen on a sunny day. Sadly, the only solution may be to replace the projector with a brighter and possibly more expensive one. But perhaps a different investment that may achieve the same affect and bring other benefits is to invest in improved blinds or curtains that better block out the ambient light when required.

Lets all make the best use of this wonderful technology to enhance worship, and not allow it to distract people from engaging with the presence of God.


St Matthew's Walsall gave us some more specific suggestions;

All venues have different requirements in order for projection of words and pictures to be seen clearly throughout the building. The following are our recommendations based on experience.

  • Font size: Ideally use size 36 but a minimum of 32 should be used in order to be read at the back of the church
  • Font: Please use standard fonts
  • Colours of fonts and backgrounds: Only certain colour combinations can be seen clearly; Light colours on dark backgrounds work best but some dark colours on light backgrounds can also be seen. The best combinations have proved to be Black / Dark Blue on White, White / Yellow on Black, or Yellow, White on Dark blue 
  • Pictures: Some pictures can be hard to see on the screen. High contrast pictures using bold primary colours are best. Writing over the top of pictures is very hard to see. If it is needed, use a black formatted box with a 50% transparency setting and white/yellow text. 
Page last updated: Friday 7th February 2020 10:22 AM
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