In Layman's Terms: Using projection to make Easter guests feel welcome (part 1)
With Easter coming up next month, it’s important to use this time of Lent to prepare for one of our biggest visitor days of the church’s year.
Many churches will focus on greeters, making sure there is a handout of some kind with information about the church and invitations to special events throughout the next 12 months prepared for people who visit our churches on what many consider to be our holiest day of the year.
All of those things are important, but I urge you also to pay attention to the ways you communicate what happens in your Easter Sunday worship services. We want to ensure that first-time guests feel like they know the flow of our services, the songs we sing and have every opportunity to encounter the Holy Spirit without feeling like an outsider dropping in on a family-only gathering.
It’s important to remember that many of our guests won’t know our songs – even the “oldies but goodies” we tend to sing on Easter Sunday. They don’t know the words to The Lord’s Prayer, our doxology or even why we take an offering.
Some of you may be aware that I’ve been traveling across the Great Plains Conference leading workshops on multimedia worship tools. We get into the nitty-gritty of buying projectors and screens, selecting software that makes sense for each congregation and resources such as background slides.
It’s just as critical to make the visual experience a good one for our guests. So I thought I would walk through some of my “must-do” items for building slides for songs and other parts of the worship service to ensure the experience is as pleasant and inclusive as possible.
In today’s blog, we’re going to focus on song lyrics.
First, let’s talk background colors. I’m a firm believer in color backgrounds – either with solid colors or with images that allow for clean displays of text. Contrast is important. Some people really are firmly committed to black text. But that doesn't work in this case.
Here’s an example of what not to do:
The black type is quite pleasing, and on a computer screen, this PowerPoint slide is actually quite legible. But when shown via a projector (and simulated here), the contrast is lost. Put simply, resist the urge to use black type on a color background. One exception would be yellow for the “all” portions of responsive readings (more on that next week).
Here’s an example of the same text and that solid-color background but with white type. It’s clean and easily read by most people.
The type size also plays an important role in readability. Resist the urge to be lazy and put everything that will fit onto a single slide. As a rule, I like to set a minimum type size of 48 points. At that size, a person standing 100 feet away can still see the words better and bigger than they can a hymnal 2 feet away from his or her face. Don’t believe me? Try it out.
And keep in mind how much better the singing will be with people looking forward or even slightly upward to see the lyrics instead of having their mouths turned downward as they look at hymnals.
Here’s an example of “Amazing Grace” with its first two verses displayed.
The words are all there, but there is no flow to it. The type may be too small, and if I don’t know the song, I have no idea where to plan to pause.
What about the hymnal? Well, if I don’t read music, now I’m being asked to navigate a book I'm not familiar with, and I don't have a way of recognizing pauses or the flow of the song.
It’s far better to break the lines where people tend to breathe in a song. Within two lines, a guest will hear what others around them are doing and will sync that information with what they see on the screens. They’ll know when to pause and take a breath and will feel more a part of the service. Here's an example.
And yes, I prefer centered lyrics for songs. Look through the Bible. Poetry and songs are formatted differently than the rest of the text. I tend to carry that through to slides I build for worship. And I don't get hung up on the number of slides per song. Make it as easy and as worshipful as possible for the audience.
We do one legal issue to consider as well. To project lyrics or to print them on a song sheet – or bulletin, for that matter – even from the United Methodist hymnal, you need a CCLI license. This Christian Copyright Licensing Inc. service conforms with the law and keeps you and your church out of trouble.
It’s safe. It’s easy. It’s cheap. Here are costs by church size, based on average weekly worship attendance:
- 1-24: $59
- 25-99: $124
- 100-199: $308
- 200-499: $276
- 500-999: $388
The costs continue on a scale.
Go to the CCLI website at https://us.ccli.com
to sign up. Click on the “what we provide” link.
Another issue involves ensuring the song you want to use is covered under CCLI. All songs in the United Methodist hymnal and the Faith We Sing supplement are covered. For all others, under the “what we provide” link on the CCLI website, go to “song search.” If the song title you type in appears with a CCLI number, then you can use it. If the song doesn’t show up, then it isn’t covered, and it’s time to consider another song.
If the song is there – and this holds true for all music – it’s only fair to include a brief title screen. This is my favorite song right now on Christian radio. It's not a good candidate for a praise song in worship, but it illustrates a title screen as a song listed with CCLI. Here's an example:
This title screen shows the song, the composer/author and the CCLI song number. This screen shows you’ve done your due diligence in obeying the law, and it alerts the congregation to what song you are about to sing together in worship.
I hope these details have been useful for you. Contact me with any questions.
Next week, we’ll talk about displaying scripture and responsive readings.
Contact Todd Seifert, conference communications director, at firstname.lastname@example.org.