In Layman's Terms: Using projection to make Easter guests feel welcome (part 2)

Todd Seifert


Last week, I shared some thoughts about how I like to set up slides for projection for song lyrics in worship services. I like to set them up not just for aesthetics but also for cadence so guests who don’t know our traditional songs have the best opportunity possible to know where the pauses are located, hopefully making them feel comfortable as they take part in our worship services.

If you haven’t seen that blog, please check it out.

This week, I’ll share some thoughts for displaying responsive reading text and scripture.

First, here a few things to keep in mind:

  • I like to keep the point size at a minimum of 48 points. At 100 feet from the screen, the type is still larger than the type people can see in a hymnal 2 feet from their eyes.
  • Remember to keep either dark backgrounds – I’ve found that blue, purple, green and brown work best – or background images that aren’t so busy as to prevent text from appearing clearly.
  • Use white type on whatever background you choose, with one exception that I’ll share in a few moments.
When we are displaying scripture, I like to make sure people can follow the flow of the words. While this is more critical in Psalms or songs in scripture, I think it looks better and adds to the readability of God’s word by boosting the aesthetics.

But how?

First, I like to center scripture. Flush right may look good on a Microsoft Word document, but centered text seems to be easier on the eyes for people sitting toward the back of the sanctuary, whether that is six pews back or 26.

Second, I take full advantage of the fact that we don’t have limitations on the number of slides. In other words, don’t try to cram too much onto one screen. In the example below, I take one week’s lectionary text from this past summer. It’s Acts 9:1-6:

It’s all there, but the type is too small to be read easily, thus defeating the purpose for sharing it on a screen in the front of the sanctuary.

A better option is to split up the text a bit so you can make the type larger. Here is an example of breaking up the passage into three slides: verses 1 and 2, followed by 3 and 4 and finally with verses 5 and 6. Here’s how verses 1 and 2 look in this scenario:

While I think this looks better, there still could be an issue of people not being able to read the very bottom if the screen isn't positioned high enough. I think there is a best option. In this scenario, we don’t get caught up on where the verse begins or ends. We’re simply looking for the completion of a thought or a period to end a sentence.

Here’s an example, with verse 1 being split up a bit between slides.

Some people might not like doing this, but I think it’s less important to be caught up on the verses being displayed together than making it easier on a first-time guest – someone likely not familiar with the Bible – to read the word of God and get more comfortable with the scriptures.

If you use a projection software such as MediaShout, EasyWorship or ProPresenter, then you likely have the Bible in a library that displays one verse at a time. If so, they likely are formatted to optimize the display already. But if you’re using PowerPoint or doing something special with projection in worship for Easter, then please keep this method in mind as you build your slides.

Finally, let’s talk about responsive readings. Often, on Easter Sunday, we’ll take part in a liturgy in which we have a leader share a word about God, followed by the entire congregation providing an affirmation or response. Remember, the purpose of projecting words on the screen is less about our current congregants and more about our guests. So we need a good visual queue to let guests know when it’s time to recite the words with those seated around them.

This is the time to bring in a different color font, and I think on a dark background, often yellow is your best option. It’s bright, so it serves much of the same purpose as white type. But it contrasts well with many other colors, so it can serve as a solid queue that something is different.

On the very first line for the leader and the congregation, I like to point out which part is which.

Here is an example with the beginning and ending from the responsive reading of Psalm 67, from page 791 of the United Methodist Hymnal:

If possible, add a black glow, which will increase the contrast and make the text “pop” off the screen. The example above uses that technique in PowerPoint, and it can be emulated in most other projection software populated in our churches.

Again, don’t worry about getting everything on one slide. Readability is the key. If you can only get the leader’s part on a slide, do that.
Between the ideas shared last week and these, I hope you can make the Easter experience better for the many guests we hope to see on this most holy of holidays. Our goal is to live out Matthew 28:19-20, known as the Great Commission. We can start by making the invitation to worship on Easter Sunday and follow through by making our worship services the most comfortable possible.

Best wishes on welcoming guests into worship. And prayers that the Holy Spirit will work through you to bring others closer to Christ!

Todd Seifert is communications director for the Great Plains Conference of the United Methodist Church. He can be reached via phone at 402-464-5994, ext. 113, or via email at Opinions expressed are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Great Plains Annual Conference or the United Methodist Church. Follow him on Twitter, @ToddSeifert.