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    Raising the bar: Church Slides 101

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    How to Choose the Right Image

    I love designing for Christian songs and hymns. Well, I love it now – in the beginning it was tough. How do you visually communicate hope or transformation or second chances or hitting rock bottom?

    I design best when I can clear my mind, sit and listen to a new song – letting it flow over me. But those opportunities are rare in our busy world. So I create the slides weekly and tuck that song in the back of my mind. I often listen to it in a car or while working on another project – often an image will rise – and the next time we sing that song the visuals are spot on.

    Below are some images that work marvelously for some of these tough concepts to visualize.  One of my favorites is the energized cross - amazing.


    Darker Images = Easy to Read Slides


    Occasionally we are asked “why are your PowerPoint slides so dark?” The answer is simple: because it works! We purposely design the PowerPoints so there is a significant color difference between the words and images. This makes the slides easier to read and significantly adds to the worship experience.

    A Worship PowerPoint is unlike any other PowerPoint presentation in the world. Within seconds of the slide flashing up on that big screen, several hundred people will start singing the lyrics – hopefully at the top of their lungs! There is no other PowerPoint presentation like it. Functionality is key - the words must be easy to read.

    The best analogy is freeway signs. We are driving along at 65 miles per hour and we need the information presented simply and clearly. Homework assignment: start noticing the traffic signs and billboards along the freeway. I know we normally like to ignore them but they are wonderful lessons in functionality.

    Notice how the freeway signs use white, simple fonts on darker backgrounds. How both freeway signs and billboards are center justified. Notice how the billboards capture your attention with their images and how they combine those images with their message.But worship slides are much more than functional freeway signs. Done well - they build and strengthen the worship experience.

    At Envision Worship each PowerPoint is designed with a stunning image that is specially designed to strengthen the worship experience. We then add white, bolded, sans serif fonts that stand out and are easy to read. This combination increases the functionality and has an amazing impact on the congregation’s worship experience.

    Design solution: From Despair to Hope

    What do you do with a song that moves from sadness and despair to hope or joy? This happens weekly at my church! One solution I came up with is choosing one really great image and then changing the contrast and/or brightness to create a transition from darkness to hope.

    The font plays a huge role!


    Which church slide is easier to read? The congregation has just seconds to take in the words on the screens and then sing them out loud.  Above all the screens have to be easy to read. Font size, style and color is important.  

    How do you figure out what works best for your church?  Stand in the back of the room and look at the PowerPoint.  Here's a list of questions to ask yourself:

    • Can you read it easily?
    • Is the font large enough?  Is it too large?  
    • Are there too many words on the screen?  
    • Are there too few?  Are the word arrange the way the song is sung? 
    • Is the contrast between the background and the letters strong enough?
    • Is the font style an easy font to read?  

    If you are using an Envision Worship PowerPoint - all of this is already thought out and integrated into the PowerPoint Template.

    After you have made your choices - check in with a positive older member of your congregation - preferable one who sits towards the back of the church. Ask them to let you know if they ever have a hard time reading the words on the screens.  

    It's always all about worship.  

    The lyrics on the slides above are from "His Eye Is On the Sparrow" written by Cililla D. Martin in 1905.

    How to Make a Church PowerPoint



    How to Create a Church PowerPoint


    By now you are wondering "What did I get myself into?! Yes - I know how to create a PowerPoint but I've never done a PowerPoint like this before!" Don't worry - you can do it! I have been in your shoes and I am here to help you create an amazing worship PowerPoint for your church.

    I recommend designing for one song at a time. Depending on the sermon topic you could have a wide range of song lyrics - joy, despair, hope, prayerful, etc.  Normally the opening songs are powerful and full of life to get the worship experience started. The middle songs tend to be prayerful and quiet and the songs at the end of the service are full of hope and positive energy.  

    It is hard to picture one image that could communicate all those different types of feelings!  Can you picture an image that would work for Matt Redman's 10,000 Reasons and Mercy Me's I Can Only Imagine?  Or if you create PowerPoints for hymns: Thy Word and Joyful, Joyful, We adore Thee?  Each of these songs evokes very different feelings and need different images.

    So how do you pick which image to use? Good news - this is the fun part!  You are in this position for a reason - believe it or not - like it or not - you were called to lead the worship visuals at your church.  Now you just have to figure out how to fulfill that Call.

    The first thing to do is pray - invite God into the process.  Then turn on the music, shut your eyes and listen to the song.  If you are at band or choir practice just sit in the back and listen.  If not, then YouTube is a wonderful free resource.  Just search for the song and pick a singing group that looks like it might be similar to your church's music team.  For instance, if your church has a band, choose a contemporary band; if you have a choir, choose a choir.  The best choice is the original artist's version as the lyrical quality with be at its finest.

    Turn on the music - BUT DON'T LOOK AT THE IMAGES ON YOUTUBE!  Sorry for shouting - but you were the one that was chosen - first try to figure out the images yourself. A lot of videos on YouTube use images that are a cheesy or have nothing to do with the lyrics.  I once saw a video welcoming the Holy Spirit to worship and the image was a baby duck. Really - a baby duck?!  Hmmm… how about a dove or an amazing (non-scary) flame or a sky full of northern lights - now we're talking!

    So you have your eyes shut and you are listening to the music - and you start to see things in your head. Hmmm…they are talking about hope - what does that look like - a beautiful sunrise/sunset, a seeker with open arms or the sun breaking over the horizon? Perhaps they are singing about despair. How about a person bent over in prayer? Or maybe they are singing about joy. How about a dancer celebrating on the beach or children jumping for joy or a sunrise? You get the idea - let the music take you to new places. After you have an idea of what images would work – go find them!

    Envision Worship is a marvelous resource for you. Since it is designed specifically for churches, you can search it by worship categories – personal faith, change, Holy Week, Christmas, children, stars, and many other choices. Go to Envision Worship and look through the PowerPoints for the images that you imagined. Listen to the music while you search the images. It will be there - all of sudden you will say: “Oh - there it is.”

    Great - now you have your PowerPoint template - how do you put the words in it?  The great news is the Envision Worship PowerPoints are designed to be easy to use and are especially designed for worship. You are given different font sizes and styles. These were selected to make the PowerPoint easy to read. In addition, the animation is already built in - the slide will transition seamlessly and professionally.  Title slides are included along with prompts to remind you to add the composer, copyright and CCLI number. 

    Adding the lyrics is easy!  If you are designing for contemporary songs then most likely your church has a contract with CCLI - the church music licensing company.  Get your church's log on information and search for the song. Once you find it click on the Lyrics tab and then copy and paste the lyrics into your PowerPoint slides. If you are doing a hymn, you can google the hymn lyrics. You will need to double check with your hymnal to make sure you have the right version.  You may have to make a few changes. Or you can just type in the lyrics.

    Be careful how you are dividing the words across the slides.  It's important to get the phrases together. You don't want to break the text mid-sentence and have to go to the next slide. The tech team will have a hard time getting the next slide up in time and there will be an uncomfortable gap. I've added a sample slide to illustrate how to divide the slides.

    Each song should have a title slide, lyric slides and then one last blank image slide at the end. The last blank image slide lets the music play out after the lyrics are done.  Make sure you hit save button!

    You did it! You designed a PowerPoint for worship! This is the beginning of an amazing journey.