Monday, May 4, 2020

Show and Tell In Worship

After 7-8 weeks of offering church services online, many churches have settled into routines, typically changing little from their usual in-sanctuary church service.  What this means is that people sit and listen (churches are primarily auditory spaces: see my article on this here). In a visual culture where people are also used to watching fast-paced images in advertising, films, and television shows, just seeing one person talking isn’t going to grab their full attention. Showing what you're talking about goes a long way towards helping your viewers understand the heart of your messaging.

One great irony of worship in the time of Covid-19 is that churches have now turned to screens to broadcast their services, and yet some have missed the point that a screen is meant to show something more than one or more people talking to a camera. When the screens that people use each day are rich in visual content, we in the church need to pay attention to that, and try to figure out ways to visually enhance your viewers' experience.

Finding ways to keep people visually involved can be challenging. Sure, we are seeing one another if we’re using Zoom and other visual tech, and we’re seeing the worship leaders and the backdrop they’ve selected (the worship sanctuary, maybe a home office) but there are ways to add more visuals to worship.  

One way, with Zoom, is to Share the Screen and put up a PowerPoint or Google Slides program that not only shows the words to prayers and hymns, but also integrates visual
Green arrow=Share Screen
arts.  Some churches are doing a fine job asking church members to submit photographs during the week that can be shown during worship, or asking children to draw pictures that can be uploaded and added to the slides.  Other churches are adding original video or online video to the slide set to illustrate messages.  

For those churches using their sanctuary for video worship, and who already have a screen and projector in place, the leadership could position themselves near those screens and project the imagery and lyrics that would ordinarily be used in their service. Many churches are doing this effectively.

One caution is that while churches may enjoy a worship exemption in US Copyright law around the proper use of copyrighted material, these protections do not automatically extend to your broadcasting these materials over the Internet, radio, or television. Until there is further guidance on this matter, you’re better off using materials that you know are in the public domain, are original to you and your members, or have been already cleared through some of the online sources you may be using.

A key question for worship leaders planning to upload their services to visual platforms is this: how can we SHOW what we're talking about? Sometimes this means we set aside our natural bias to TALK about something in church, and instead find a picture, a video, a film clip, or a drawing to show the point you want to get across.

This will increase your viewers' comprehension of your message, enhance their memory of what you're doing, and stimulate their response.

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