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What Can Worship Software Do for Your Ministries?
By: Jesse Lewis

Worship presentation software is an investment. And, like any investment, we want to make sure we are getting the greatest return out of it. But, many local churches are under-utilizing this valuable resource because they only use it in the main Sunday morning worship services, when, in fact, there are a number of church ministries that can benefit from it.

Before we get into possible applications, though, we need to discuss software licensing. Some software companies allow you to load your worship software on as many computers at the same church campus as you like – this is called a "site license." Other companies allow you to install the software on a certain number of computers before requiring you to obtain additional licensing. Licensing is important because, often, different ministries meet in different areas of a church campus. So, the first step is finding out where on campus computers are available and whether or not you are able to load your worship software on them.

Assuming hardware and software are not a limitation, here are some possibilities:

1. Children's Ministry
It just might be time to retire that flannel board, folks. There are some great media collections available now that are created specifically for children's ministry. Grab a dependable member of your church's youth group, give them a couple weeks to get up to speed on your worship presentation software, and your children's worship service instantly has a completely updated new look that will help you keep the attention of youngest members.

2. Youth Ministry
Most of the uses for your worship presentation software in a youth group setting are the same as the ones for your main services (and make no mistake – you need to be using video extensively in youth services). The thing that is different is the content – here, it is louder, edgier, raw, and completely honest. Remember, too, that humor is an especially effective tool in this environment.

3. Seniors' Groups
Seniors are sometimes victims of bad stereotyping when it comes to technology – many of them embrace and enjoy it (they might just have a harder time with the actual operation of it). When using projection in this setting, consider using background loops that are more nature-oriented and subtle in motion. You will also want to make sure that the font you are using is easily readable from the anywhere in the room.

4. Men's Ministry/Women's Ministry
There is some great video content out there that is designed to be shown only to men, or only to women. These videos can be great discussion starters on issues that are gender-specific. In particular, real-life testimonies are highly effective because they provide points of identification for people watching.

5. Small Groups
Although possibly a little less convenient, your small groups may also benefit from your worship presentation software. Most newer televisions have a VGA input. Plug a laptop in and display song lyrics for your group's worship time or show video clips to launch discussions. You could also use it as an active whiteboard by typing in text and firing it to the screen as thoughts are being shared.

These are just a few of the many applications for your worship presentation software. You have invested a lot of time and money in getting the software functional for your church. Now think outside the box and experiment with new ways to use it.

Using Blank Screens
We've made a big investment in projection equipment, computers, software, and media. We've spent a lot of time learning and tweaking the system so that everything looks the best that it can. We have to use it to its fullest potential – we have to get our money's worth. So, we should be projecting something every minute of the service, right? Well…no, not really.

Certainly, almost every church should be using imagery during the service. But, remember, projection is a complementary tool. What is done on the screen should flow with the rest of the service. And sometimes, projecting nothing is the best we can do.

Here are some service points where you should consider projecting nothing:

* A quiet, reverent moment of worship when the congregation is completely silent
* You are singing a slower, familiar song, you have repeated the chorus several times, and the worship leader has the instruments stop, so the congregation is worshipping a capella.
* The pastor has finished the main part of his message and is closing in a thoughtful, poignant tone.
* The pastor is giving a salvation invitation.
* Someone is leading the congregation in prayer.

At those times, having something on the screen can potentially be more of a distraction than a help. Again, the goal is to flow with/be a part of what God is doing during the service – and sometimes, doing nothing at all is the best way to accomplish that.

What Video Can't Do
Many churches over the last 10 years have rightly come to the conclusion that they need to tailor their communication styles on Sunday morning to the needs of the people filling the chairs (or pews). They have done this because, while not wanting to compromise the Gospel in any way, they want to be as effective as they can be in their communication. And, of course, projection and media made for church services has been a huge part of that change in communication style.

However, as Sally Morgenthaler pointed out several years ago, there is a danger that comes with this change. We tend to start depending on the style to replace some of the big things the church is called to do…namely, evangelize and disciple.

Videos can do a lot for you. They can bring practical application to a message. They can make a message point more memorable and stir the heart. They can enhance your worship time. They can help you communicate information in a way that grabs and keeps the attention of your audience. They are an important ministry tool.

But, videos cannot go out and form a friendship with the guy who goes to Little League games on Sunday mornings. Videos cannot serve in the soup kitchen, or bring groceries to shut-ins.

Let's face it: to have creative communication in your church service (videos, dramas, sets, object lessons) takes time and effort. So do evangelism and discipleship. A healthy church is a church that has found an effective way to do all of it.

And there is no shortcut – the only way to do it all is for every member of the body of Christ to step up and do what they are called to do.

We need each other, whether we realize it or not, to be fully engaged in the cause of Christ. So, this week, encourage your brother or sister who has been sitting on the sidelines to get back it the game. It is game time, and we need them on the field!

Jesse Lewis is president of www.WorshipFilms.com.

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