25 Tips for Worship Multimedia Technology
By: Michael Bausch
What follows is a practical list of considerations as you add visuals to your church's worship experience. The order is not as important as starting somewhere, while sharing the vision and building support for that vision within the congregation.
1. Get yourself educated and informed. Read what's available in areas of worship, technology, church growth, and learning theory.
2. Identify a small number of lay leaders in your church who will share your interest and excitement.
3. Buy multiple copies of the books you are reading and give them to the lay leadership. Take them with you to workshops on the issues you're excited about.
4. Claim a vision for the future. Share it with your leadership body. Brainstorm the names of people who would be most interested and supportive toward that vision, your core of leaders within the congregation.
5. Start meeting. Proclaim the vision and the challenge in writing and verbally. Assemble articles and books, and begin talking about the ideas you are discovering.
6. Talk together, dream together, and set some goals and visions. Get clear on what it is that you want to do.
7. Begin introducing visuals into worship. Show some slides and filmstrips. Start light; for example, show Christmas art, or a painting or sculpture that illustrates a point in your sermon. Add visuals to the worship bulletin, including pictures, sermon outlines, or quotations…anything for the eye.
8. Assemble the visual artists and photographers in your church, and talk about ways to incorporate visuals into learning settings of the church.
9. Utilize video resources. Bring in TV and a VCR. Show a mission moment. Show a minute of footage from a recent youth retreat. Show the women's luncheon. Show the church school kids working on an art project. Use the offering time wisely; instead of an offertory, show a video mission moment.
10. Begin to investigate available technology, such as projectors, larger screens, and how computers help deliver visuals. Check into prices. Study what's out there. Bring it before the congregation as a dream, as part of your shopping list of things the church needs.
11. Pause. After a period of using visuals, take a few months off. Don't talk about it or think about it. Do things as you usually did. Wait to hear from others. Keep the vision alive in monthly committee meetings. Keep other groups informed of the vision, the dream.
12. Keep assembling the people who are interested in various aspects of what you have done together, and keep them talking and thinking. These action people will keep pushing for change through the church.
13. Speak before the various groups in your church to communicate the dreams, the visions, and the hopes that have been developed over time.
14. Identify your congregation: ages, interests, abilities, future projections for age ranges in church, how neighborhood or area is changing. Describe what other churches are doing and why. Build a base of information for the people and decision makers.
15. Consider developing a style of group-based ministry. Become more efficient in your use of time. Wonder about what the pastor does that other lay leadership could be doing as expressions of their Christian calling.
16. Develop group ministries and train people to do the work of the church, freeing the pastor to do the worship work and keep a creative edge. Consider how laity can provide premarital sessions, nursing home and home visitation, home communions, new member meetings, confirmation, etc.
17. Train youth and adults to put imagery to music. Discuss the music they listen to and uncover important themes.
18. Start a film group to view movies and discuss the themes found in contemporary film.
19. Illustrate sermons with verbal references to film, television, and music. Next time, show or play the reference rather than describing it. Discover how cultural material reflects or contrasts with gospel messages.
20. Get "literate" in electronic media. Discover what's out there and how it might be used in worship. How are churches using computers in worship?
21. Visit churches already using video. Notice how television utilizes its video technology with movement, color, and labels.
22. Think about the architecture of your worship space: what does it teach about God and how does it organize a style of worship? What is it saying about how we approach God in worship?
23. What changes might you make to the architecture to incorporate projecting words and pictures before the congregation?
24. Honor the need to hold worship at the same time as Sunday School so that young adult parents can worship while their children are in class.
25. Take a teaching approach to worship. Build a community or teachers and learners.
This process can takes months and years to develop. It requires leadership being committed to a particular community for a significant time period. It involves a desire to communicate the gospel to an increasingly visually oriented people. It seeks to build a fresh attentiveness to our faith traditions, helping us learn in new ways while encouraging us to apply what we learn to the world in which we live.
Michael Bausch teaches the use of the arts and multimedia in worship based on many years of parish ministry experience. He can be reached through www.worshipmedia.com