The Church throughout history has used every means necessary to spread its message to all people. In the early 4th century, churches in Europe began to create stunning stained-glass depictions of stories within the Bible to share the Good News with a culture that was largely illiterate, in a way that was both beautiful and creative. Stained glass gave way to overhead projectors, and eventually presentation software. The means have changed over time, but the message never has.
Deciding the best form of media for your next worship experience can be a daunting task; after all, people’s souls are at stake. However, there are three simple questions that can help guide you.
1. What is the tone of your message?
As the congregation leaves the service at the end of worship, how do you want them to feel? What emotions are you aiming for? This will help determine the colors, music and images that your media will portray.
The effectiveness of your message begins long before you enter the pulpit or get behind that podium. The social media you choose to promote your worship will set the tone. The countdown at the beginning of the service should continue the tone as people arrive. Each song background or message slide will reinforce the tone. Bright colors can create a happy environment, while cooler colors can create a more somber mood. Epic music can make people excited, while more relaxed music can cause people to be more pensive.
Are you wanting to share cleaner graphics for a simple approach or grungier graphics to create a little grit? To help you answer this first question, write down how the passage you are teaching makes you feel. Use short descriptive words. Once you can capture that, replicate it for your people.
2. Where will your media come from?
When it comes to curating a worship experience, there are three primary ways of acquiring the media you need. You will either be an investigator, a creator, or a delegator. The difference between these three may have to do with budgets, timelines or church staffing.
An investigator is someone who combs the internet for premade media that happens to fit your worship experience tone. Whether it is through a Google search or one of the many websites with ready-made countdowns, backgrounds and movies, the investigator does the research that accomplishes the goal.
A creator is someone who has the skills to design and edit the exact media that is desired. The creator can expend as much energy as they would like planning and theming to bring the message to life.
Lastly, a delegator is someone who knows the kind of media they want to create for a specific tone and has the resources to pay another company to create. The benefit of the delegator is that they can spend their energy in other places because the design effort is being done by someone else. By delegating, the media can also be a higher quality than can be created otherwise.
The media should serve the message, and that should direct you.
3. Who is your audience?
Who are the people sitting in the pews or the chairs? What is the age demographic? What is their socio-economic status? What are their professions? What do they do for entertainment? How long have most of them been in Church? What area of the country is your church in?
Knowing the answers to these questions will ensure that your illustrations, stories, and images are vehicles that help your congregation grow rather than roadblocks that stymie their spiritual development. Poorly chosen media can be offensive, if you aren’t careful. Poorly chosen media can undermine trust if it is inaccurate. Poorly chosen media can be distracting if it’s better suited for another venue.
Before you use media based around some kind of cultural fad, will your congregation understand? When choosing music for a video in the service, consider whether your people are more Mozart or more Coldplay. The Apostle Paul was masterful in the letters he penned to the early Church, and one of the reasons why is because he seemed to truly understand his audience.
A worship experience is far more than just a message that is preached; it is the confluence of hospitality, worship, sacrament and teaching. Good media helps bridge each element together and highlight each one on their own.