I have been given the most amazing, and unusual, gift from the Holy Spirit - the gift of creating stunning, visually striking worship visuals. Fifteen years ago I would have laughed at the idea.
One Sunday morning I walked into church and there were these huge HD screens on the walls. I didn't know it then - but in that moment my life was changed forever.
At first, I didn't know what to think - I wasn't sure I even liked them. I sang with the church band and after church I spoke with a few people. The hope was that the congregation would look up as they sang - that the screens would create a feeling of unity and positivity. I was still hesitant - TV screens in church - really?
Quickly I saw the difference - people were looking up! And there was definitely more energy in the Sanctuary. I became a fan and so did many others. Soon the church screens became apart of our church's culture.
The only problem was the slides were terrible - the lyrics were huge and in a hard to read font. The lyrics were so poorly divided between the slides that it was hard to sing a complete verse. And to top it off, the slides were advanced late - sound familiar to any of you?
Coincidentally, I was looking for a job at the same time. I was taking some classes to validate my computer skills and one of them was in PowerPoint. I had an excellent teacher and quickly saw the potential for our church's PowerPoints.
I joined the tech team and became the volunteer designer of the screens. The tech team was a small but mighty group - dedicated and creative. We came up with new advancing rules: slow songs - click before the last word; fast songs - click before the second to last word. We changed the slide transition settings to fade and set the speed to 0.25 which really helped. I was able to streamline the design right away. I decreased the font size which enabled us to get a whole lyric phrase on each slide. The slides definitely functioned better but they did not look good.
I struggled with the slide design. I had never created anything like this before and this was a very public learning curve. I started studying church symbolism and graphic design. I took worship visual classes from other Slide Designers. I met with my Pastors and graphic designers from our church. I prayed and I improved a bit. But I had a long way to go.
One afternoon I was alone at church. I was struggling with a song - I did not know how to visually express the positive power of the Holy Spirit. I prayed a long time and became aware of an energy surging through me and around me - it was astounding, marvelous and a bit scary - all at the same time. I know it was the Holy Spirit surging through me - but wasn't that just a biblical thing that happened long ago?
The energy surging through my body was a sensation I had never felt before. I felt a power within me that propelled and motivated me like no other. This energy stayed with me for months. I spend so many hours creating the worship visuals that my pastor would tell me to go home. But I could not - I had an interaction with the Holy Spirit that left me profoundly changed and I knew there was something there I was suppose to do.
I liked to say that my skills improved over night. They did not. It took much longer. I am blessed with a wonderful family, I worked full time and would work on my church's screens on the side. Eventually something started shifting. After my moment with the Holy Spirit I knew I had been given a gift - I also started believing in this gift. The screens started looking amazing - very different than what is out there. Full of color and movement and power - I leaned into it. And I designed more and more creatively.
One Sunday, the congregation was singing the song Stand. It was crazy but they were all just sitting there. I designed the worship visuals for that song to build as the music builds. I use numerous images throughout the song - each building in power so that at the end - the music and visuals meld into this glorious energy. The last image was all these believers standing together and the sun breaking though their raised arms. When that slide when up on the screens - the most amazing thing happened. The Pastor stood and the congregation stood with him. You could literally feel the power of the Holy Spirit in the room. Now it was not solely the slides - the musicians and the music were amazing! But the slides were a part of building that momentum. It was a glorious moment. I wanted that worship experience for all people.
At the same time, church visitors started stopping by the tech booth after the worship service to ask me how they could get these slides for their church. I had been feeling a nagging pull that I should be doing more with the gift I had been given. So a few years ago I stepped out of the boat and started Envision Worship. Again a crazy thing to do - we were in the midst of the recession, I had just lost my job - it was a total walk in faith.
Thankfully I am incredibly blessed with a husband that believes in my calling. We are funding Envision Worship. We are thankful it is growing but we also know that we will be funding it for a few more years. Over the years I have worked - sometimes two jobs - to keep Envision Worship going. But each year I have learned new things that have helped me reach out more.
We feel incredibly blessed to be a part of Envision Worship. It astounds us that our PowerPoints are used in worship in 31 countries and 48 US States. At Christmas and Easter - we are a part of so many worship services - last Christmas, Envision Worship PowerPoints were included in 100 Christmas eve services celebrating Jesus' birth - can you imagine? It is so humbling - there is so much more in this than us.
So why am I sharing all this. I wanted you to know a little of whom I am and why I started Envision Worship. For me it all about helping people connect to Christ - helping churches to use images that are positive, gorgeous and build the worship experience.
I also want to create community for churches designers - often only one person in a church does this - every week - all year long - year after year. They often struggle over what image to use to express the meaning of the lyrics. I am still the volunteer designer at my church - I am one of you. My hope is that this website gives you ideas and spurs your creativity. Thank you for creating the worship visuals at your church.
Each of us is given gifts by the Holy Spirit. If you have not recognized your gift yet - I hope you discern it soon. And then I hope you will take a leap of faith and utilize your gift to make our world a better, more positive place.
God bless, Lisa
Lisa Scott Jones, CEO & Worship Digital Designer