Churches have fully integrated their services with technology such as sound equipment, projectors, televisions, and computers. This has created a culture around how to use this technology within a church service. Whether it’s the worship team using PowerPoint so that the congregation can sing in unison, or a video is shown of missionaries working overseas, we have to ensure that our presentations are effective and done well.
Despite church tech ministry being full of equipment and electronics, it’s still a people business. No matter how great the gear, there will always be a need for people to actually help prep, format, and maintain that equipment. Increasing the presence of technology doesn’t necessarily mean that we will eliminate mistakes. Technology is still prone to failure and working with people isn’t easy, either. Whether you’re working with professionals or amateurs (volunteers), mistakes are always going to be made. We should always be willing to look at mistakes that are made and determine why they were made. The last thing we want is a persistent habit of failure that leads to continuing distractions and issues in a service environment.
Here are some ways to make a better presentation.
Pick the Right Presentation Software for Your Church
Some people rely very little on presentation software, and have a sole volunteer to run everything from sound to the projector to the lights. Anything more than PowerPoint would be beyond the budget, and so the Office Suite is perfect. Other churches are looking for precision that can be found in CueLab or MediaShout with its management, flexibility and ease of use that allows you to create a pool of slides for quick uses. Whatever you decide to go with, don’t just buy it because it was the cheapest or someone used it once. Do your research, know your needs and resources, and have a plan.
Trust Your team
Even on a team, leaders can have a mentality that they have to plan everything and become the lynchpin for everything. Great leaders know how to hold the reins loosely, delegate well, and avoid micromanaging in places you should leave alone. The last thing a tech person needs is for someone with little to no experience to direct them on a foundational level when that leader’s time could be better served elsewhere and the person could be left to do what they were asked to do in the first place. Trust in your team to make everything you do together great. Our volunteers want to succeed, let’s set them up for success.
Do Training and Conferences as a Team
People are asked to be on your team because they have some kind of willingness and probably skill. That being said, we all should be life-long learners in what we’re doing well. There are great training sessions and conferences out there for church teams for technology, church presentations, and doing Sunday well. Even better, there is great material and experience out there to do this locally. Encourage and even expect all of your team, staff, and volunteers to jump on board and continue to do what you do better each time.
When those we are leading make mistakes or miss the mark, our first job as leaders should be to look at ourselves to determine whether we did all we could to set them up for success. If someone hasn’t done what you asked them to do, ask yourself:
- Were the right resources were available to them?
- Were they properly trained?
- Were things explained fully and clearly?
- Were expectations set so they had an accurate picture of what success looked like?
- Did they have the right tools available for them to use during their particular task?
Every now and then you have a potential team member who has a passion for ministry and a genuine heart to serve. They may even love technology and think they’re perfectly suited for a certain role. They’ve asked questions, they’ve gone through training, and they’ve spent hours of their own time reviewing other resources online, but they’re still not good at the task. The truth can sometimes hurt, but our job as ministry leaders is to help people find the area where they’re best suited to make a difference, regardless of the team. Perhaps there’s another role on the team that would be a better fit. Or perhaps there’s another ministry team altogether that will suit them better. Either way, when people are operating out of a natural aptitude or talent, results will naturally come to light.
Don’t Write Full Paragraphs on Slides
Presentation software is supposed to be something that enhances the presentation or service of the presenters. While the worship team will have the full lyrics up for the songs to be song correctly, the person giving the sermon or presentation needs to recognize that they’re playing by a different set of rules. Your slides should be minimal at best, offer a visual description or the images you are trying to convey, and leave the storytelling to the presenter. You are painting a picture and full sentences on the slide will distract from it.
Use Different Mediums
People have different bents to learning. The traditional written and auditory ways of teaching are quite limited within the set of learning styles including tactile, kinesthetics, spatial, interpersonal, and intrapersonal. Use videos, skits, images to enhance a story, art, and silence to allow for reflection. Sometimes that involves a great tech team and the right gadgets and other times it just needs a good artist with a canvas, some background music, and a spotlight. Don’t complicate it, but make sure you engage a variety of learning styles.
Don’t Overuse Clipart or Generic Images
Clipart and Generic Images can be fun, but they can also be distracting. What is the focus supposed to be on? Remember that there is a bit of branding happening in your message. If that is of importance for you or your ministry, a simple change or bit of investment can go a long way. Instead use photos of people you are directly ministering to or congregation members and lose the clipart and generic images.
Have A Backup Plan
Technology is a great tool and should be used to make your sermon, song, or skit go from good to great. Lights, sound, and videos can make this happen. But sometimes things go wrong that are out of your control, whether the Internet is out on Sunday, a projector bulb goes out and cannot be replaced for a week, or your microphone batteries die. This means that when volunteers and staff teams meet, discussions of how to handle these situations allow for people to be proactive instead of reactive which lends to a quicker and more efficient overall job.
Don’t Use Images Without Proper Citations
If you have any kind of investment with church presentations, you know about Christian Copyright Licensing International or CCLI for all of the lyrics that you put up on the screen and you may also know about Christian Video Licensing International that is needed for any full length videos or short clips that are used in front of an audience. That being said, we all fall under the Creative Commons License for all media that is used and proper citation or limited use is expected for all media you use that you get from online, including all images, audio, and documents. As Christians in this modern world, we must tread faithfully with Christ and do everything without reproach.
It’s one thing to know what songs you’re going to sing, main readings you’re going to preach from, and when your part starts, but mistakes can easily still leak in to the system. Repetition needs to happen for effectiveness and better presentations. You can have your worship team on the right schedule, but if you don’t practice with the tech team, you could be making some major mistakes in the service. If you incorporate more than just a talk from the pulpit, a skit to compliment it, or a video of your missionaries, go over the game plan with everyone involved in the whole service, even if it’s an hour before the sermon.
Presentations shouldn’t be boring. Jesus didn’t sensationalize so He could get a headline on the local news. He knew that His time was short and He needed to go for the punch. At the same time, He knew how to tell a great parable that would keep people thinking for days, months, and their whole life. We need to know how to tell the story of Christ, our church, and our own personal lives well. People don’t connect to presentations with graphs. They connect to with stories rich with emotions that touch points in their own memories and personal lives. Don’t manipulate, but be great presenters.
I hope this gets you, your tech team and your church headed in the right direction or thinking about a few key points that may have been on your mind. Our tech teams will always be changing, as will the equipment, so we need to accept that. Please reach out to me if you have any questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.