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9 creative tips to enhance projection in worship (Part Two)

Darby Jones

In Part One, we discussed several logistical reasons many churches do not use projection in worship. In Part Two, we will discuss some of the creative hurdles worship teams might encounter. If you don’t want to distract people during worship, learning about this new technology is a great idea.

Many churches are using projection to illustrate the story of Jesus in a powerful way. The kids love it! It lifts their attention upward, off their smartphone and onto the visual metaphors of God. At General Conference 2012, we were called to focus on “revitalization.” Don’t you think it’s time we start appealing to the younger generations?

If you don’t have the resources for paid staff, here are some creative projection tactics you can do yourself, both professionally and within budget.

1. Get more out of projection than words and lyrics.
The screen is not a piece of paper, but a canvas for art. However, be careful with art in a worship setting. If it’s too abstract, it can be distracting. On the other hand, images or graphics can feel a bit forced if they are exactly like the discussion topic. Choose instead to use interesting images that are more like a metaphor. The image should represent the concept in a clear way, much as Jesus did when he told parables.  

2. Do not overwhelm people with slides, pictures and videos.
One hundred slides that highlight every minor point with flying “word art” is enough to make anybody look for the nearest exit.  Use one main image or theme as a foundation for the service and add a few variations of that image or theme throughout the service.

3. Choose or create images and colors that are culturally relevant. 
Cheesy images and colors are a huge turnoff. Avoid this by referencing excellent forms of visual communication. The sites below offer a variety of inspirational resources including how-to articles and videos, design forums and even some freebies:

Bamagazine has many free professional instruction videos and articles on design excellence. Focus on elements that strike you. Pay attention to font choice and placement, color palette, use of metaphor and composition.

If you need to develop a cool color palette to launch your next project, check out COLOURlovers, an international community that creates and shares colors, palettes and patterns. They also discuss the latest design trends.

4. Use creative stock libraries. 
Google can only take you so far in the creative commons arena. It can be a royal headache searching for something worth using. Avoid the headache and check out these royalty-free stock-photography sites:

  • – Free and paid images, graphics and vector art.
  • – Free sermon audio, graphics and opening videos.
  • – Millions of cool images, audio and video for a single yearly fee.
  • – Images for as little as $1 (smaller web images).
  • – Free images with many types of Creative Commons licenses.
  • – Search other Creative Common sites. However, do not assume the search results are all under a CC license. Always follow the link and verify that the work is actually under a CC license.

5. Learn how to take a good photograph.
Learning to take great photographs is a wonderful skill. Imagine taking a photograph that your church or family cherishes for generations. The potential is within your grasp! Here are a few sites that will help you raise the visual-exhilaration level of the universe:

6. Illustrate points with royalty-free videos and major motion pictures.
If you make your own materials or find royalty-free resources, then you needn’t worry about copyright infringement.  At, you can view hundreds of free movies. Grab a cup of coffee and dive in:

If you want to show major studio motion pictures (highly recommended), make sure you have the proper CVLI license. The CVLI license offers blanket copyright coverage for video titles from more than 400 studios and producers. To purchase the CVLI license, check United Methodist Communication's CVLI store.

Purchasing a current CVLI license also grants you a STANDARD membership to a service called ScreenVue. ScreenVue offers more than 5,000 illustration ideas from major movies and Christian/independent titles tailored for church use. This search feature is free to all standard members.

Need a movie or just a clip to illustrate “awkwardness”? ScreenVue will give you 50 options from which to choose.  View the scene summary, themes, Scripture references and start/stop times. You can then purchase, rent or use a video you already own to show in church. ScreenVue also offers an upgrade that allows you to download clips straight from the website. In a "free promos" section, you can download clips free.

If you don’t want to purchase the CVLI license, you can use a service like WingClips. For a small fee, they have pre-cleared clips for church use. You can upload these videos to your PowerPoint without worrying about infringement.

7. Avoid worship multimedia team burnout.
First, create a manageable production schedule with limits. Enlist three or four volunteers as producers. They don’t have to be huge techie nerds; in fact, the only requirement is that they understand your vision. Next, set up a schedule on a week-to-week basis and rotate each producer. The other scheduling method is to assign each producer to a certain number of mutually agreed upon sermon-series per year.

Give each producer ownership in creative ideas and let him or her lead other volunteers. If you own something, you are more likely to give of your time and efforts. At first, producers may just load images and push buttons, but over time, the goal is for them to work with graphic artists, video specialists and so on. For more tips, read Avoid worship multi-media team burnout.

8. If volunteers are hit or miss, develop design standards.
Create a style guide for your designs so everyone is on the same page. Explain what grammatical and visual elements are acceptable. Specify what font colors, schemes and families are OK. Discuss how to use gradients, shadows and so on. Learn more about projecting worship lyrics and style guidelines.

9. Create themes and variations on themes.
Creating 52 unique productions a year plus midweek events is too much work! Develop themes around sermon series or liturgical seasons. Create six to eight primary productions a year. Each production should have a primary theme with a few variations, in still and/or motion form.

Even on a small budget and with a volunteer workforce, it is possible to create quality imagery and use your screen effectively to enhance worship and share God's story in inspiring new ways.

Adapted from Screens in Worship: Top 10 Questions from