Five Creative Ministry Tips: 8/14/2014

5 Creative Ministry Tips - August 14th, 2014

#CrtvMinTip’s are back! Every week, we’re excited to share a five-pack of useful tips for those serving in creative ministry. Each Thursday, we post practical advice on topics such as media, social networking, design, and marketing. While these tips may be simple, they have the potential to radically improve your church. These images are Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram ready, so help us spread the word by sharing them with your followers!

A great way to create unity between your on-screen content and printed materials is to use the same font for your lyrics as your bulletin. Lead pastors, your personal social media accounts are just as important as your church's. They allow your influence to spread outside of Sunday.Avoid filling your entire screen with lyrics or scripture. Stick to 3-4 lines and leave breathing room for your text. Facebook is an incredible tool for reaching your community. But, just like any other outreach, it costs money. Don't be afraid to spend money to reach people. Be flexible on Sundays. Changes are going to happen in live production. Approach them with open-mindedness, calmness, and professionalism.

Like these photos? Get them here:  Photo 1  •  Photo 2  •  Photo 3  •  Photo 4  •  Photo 5

The Right Way To Handle Church Media Fumbles

The Right Way To Handle Church Media Fumbles

I’m one of those weird people who rarely dream at night. Seriously – we’re talking nearly once every six months here. I’ll often hear my friends telling funny stories of the silly circumstances that their subconscious cooked up in their dreams. Sometimes they’ll even share their eerie nightmares that followed a late dinner of Chinese takeout. But, that’s not me.

On the rare occasion that my subconscious constructs a story that plays out as I sleep, it’s usually about a church media fumble. That’s right. I have nightmares about things going wrong on Sunday morning with production.

It may be a video freezing in the middle of playback, a click track skipping, or accidentally pressing the Live Video button in ProPresenter (which then defaults to the webcam and shows my embarrassed face to the entire audience).

Chills…

As I examine these nightmares, one thing stands out to me about myself. I can get WAYYYY too focused on my media being flawless. Church media shouldn’t be about the pursuit of perfection, but about building a team that uses their talents to enhance Sunday services for others. Sure, it’s okay to strive for error-less services. But, when is the last time you kept your “scorecard” on your team’s wins, rather than how many mistakes you made in a service?

A few weeks ago, I got the opportunity to shadow the production team at the Auburn campus of Church of the Highlands. It was there that I first caught a glimpse of a healthy way to approach mistakes in live production. On this particular weekend, they were experiencing a lot of heavy rainfall and it was slowing down their internet connection quite a bit. A solid connection is vital to the flow of their services because they are an extension site that projects a live video feed from their main campus in Birmingham.

In the three services that I joined them for that Sunday, they experienced trouble with the live feed in each service. To make matters worse, the one safety net that they have established for this, a hard drive with a recording of the earlier service, was malfunctioning for the first time in campus history. Let me be clear here—I would have been freaking out.

In the midst of all of these chaotic circumstances, their team kept level heads. While they may not have been able to prevent some problems, they worked hard to make all of the areas that they could control right. In fact, to sit back and watch their team come together in those moments was really incredible. Rather than cussin’ and fussin’ as it’s easy to do in the heat of those moments, they communicated calmly and executed their tasks with precision. When mistakes were made, they quickly picked themselves up and encouraged each other to keep moving forward. In a day filled with stress, I even saw them highfiving each other when things would go right.

Have you ever celebrated what went right with your media on Sunday morning?

At the conclusion of my shadowing, I spent a few minutes with the team’s leader, Marc Johnson. He shared with me a very simple, but profound truth. Their production booth is located in a very visible area in the back of their auditorium. If their team was to outwardly express whenever things were going wrong, everyone in the room would take notice. Not only is the worship team and campus pastor looking directly to them, but the entire audience can see them. If they will keep a level head when things are going wrong, everyone else will, too.

He also shared with me a great silver lining of publicly making fumbles. When everything is going great with production, potential volunteers assume they aren’t needed. Sometimes the smallest mistakes on a Sunday morning will prompt newcomers that help is needed and they’ll make a move to start volunteering. While it’s never intentional that a mistake is made, this has inspired many people to get involved in his time there. (They have a current rotation of around 40 production volunteers.)

Overall, you must realize that perfection is impossible. What’s important is that you always work to nurture an atmosphere of excellence, while still providing the grace necessary to make fumbles and learn from them.

Learn from your mistakes. Be proud of your accomplishments. More than anything else, understand the importance of what you do for the Kingdom.

How To Create Big Stages With Small Budgets

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We’ve all seen them. The sets and stages at larger churches with bigger budgets that make your mouth drop. You get super excited about creating something similar on your stage, only to find out that the design you’re trying to recreate costs more than your entire annual production budget. It’s easy to give up any hope of having an amazing stage design when you have a small budget. But, with the right materials and a little creativity, you can make a stellar stage design without breaking the bank.

In this post, we’ll cover a number of low-cost materials to create stage designs with, but first, there are a few things you need to consider when building your set.

Stage Designs Are 75% Lighting

There’s only so much that a stage design can do on its own. Lighting is what changes a plain stage into a dynamic environment, and it can really control mood of your room. Stage designs will come and go, but chances are, you’ll be using whatever lights you have until they die. If you have the option, set aside a portion of your set budget to buy at least 1-2 new lighting fixtures. By the time you’ve gone through 4-5 stage designs, you will have built up a nice lighting rig.

Angles = Shadows = Depth

One of the easiest ways to give your stage a dynamic feel is to add depth.  Flat designs can easily become boring, but depth can make for some very cool shadows on your set, which will give you a wide array of options when designing your lighting cues each week.

Your Set Won’t Always Have “Cool” Lighting

It’s easy to make a set look good with lights that are constantly changing color and intensity, but your set needs to look good when the lights aren’t in motion. Also, if your room is used for more than just weekend worship, you need to make sure your set looks good without being lit at all.

 

With those things in mind, let’s look at some of my favorite building materials for constructing stage designs, along with some real-world examples for inspiration.

PVC Pipe

PVC Pipe - Church Stage DesignPVC pipe comes in a variety of lengths and diameters, and since it’s commonplace in every household, it’s quite cheap. At about $5 for a 10ft section, your money will go a long way towards creating some great designs using PVC. Pro tip: Use acetone to wipe away the manufacturer-printed information on the side of each piece of pipe.  Leaving the text on will just be a distraction.  (Example 1  •  Example 2  •  Example 3)

Coroplast

Coroplast - Church Stage DesignPossibly the strongest contender on the list due to its sheer flexibility (both literally and figuratively), this corrugated plastic is an excellent building block for any stage design. Coroplast can maintain its lightweight, yet sturdy, form in just about any shape, which means your options are virtually unlimited when building. In addition to opaque white, coroplast can also be found in translucent varieties, which will give you the option of lighting it from behind to create some stunning effects on your stage.  Again, keep in mind that lighting is what will really create great looks with a coroplast set, not the material itself.

The best place to find low-cost coroplast sheets is your local sign shop.  Any shop that prints yard signs & the like will most likely have 4′x8′ sheets of coroplast on hand.  Prices vary from place to place, but a 4′x8′ sheet will usually run around $12-$20. You can also pick up sheets at some home improvement stores such as Home Depot.  (Example 1  •  Example 2  •  Example 3  •  Example 4)

Window Screen

Window Screen - Church Stage DesignLike PVC, window screen is widely available at any home improvement store and it comes very cheap. Crinkling up window screen can create some serious shadows, which can add depth and texture to an otherwise boring set. Make sure to wear heavy duty gloves when working with this material though; the sharp edges of a roll of screen can shred your hands if you aren’t careful.  (Example 1)

Wood Pallets

Wood Pallets - Church Stage DesignWood is yet another solid choice for set building.  Lumber is already pretty cheap, but often times you can find pallets for free from local warehouses and storage facilities. Pallet wood is usually rustic and textured, which can make for some very organic set pieces. A word of advice: A freestanding pallet doesn’t look that great as a set piece.  Strip the pallet wood apart and create something amazing: a textured wall, a drum riser, or a prop piece for your set, for example.

(Example 1  •  Example 2  •  Example 3  •  Example 4)

MIO Foldscapes

Mio - Church Stage DesignMio is a company that creates environmentally-friendly architectural pieces for use in the office environment (ceiling tiles, room partitions, and the like). Luckily, their materials also can make for some killer sets! Prices vary from product to product, but their Foldscapes ceiling tiles, which make for some very cool lighting effects, are $98 for a box of 24 2′x2′ tiles.  (Example 1  •  Example 2)

 

Do you have any other low-cost set materials you love to build with? Post your suggestions in the comments below or send us a tweet to @CreativePastor!

Photos used with permission from ChurchStageDesignIdeas.com

Free Motion of the Month – August ’14

Free Motion of the Month

This month, we’ve partnered with the awesome Church Motion Graphics to bring you a custom motion that’s going to look great in your services. I love this background because it stands out from a lot of the other motions that I’ve seen lately and can work in a number of environments.

This freebie is only available for the month of August 2014.
This download includes HD, SD, and still versions.
This motion is free to download, but please do not redistribute. (Please link back to this page.)

To get this free motion, simply subscribe to receive our weekly email newsletter. You’ll receive your download link via email within the hour.

Subscribe to our weekly email newsletter

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Six Qualities of A Perfect Motion Background

Six Qualities of a Perfect Motion Background

Did you know that there are nearly 17,000 motion backgrounds available for download today? The amazing thing is that number only includes motions that were specifically created to be used in ministry settings. There’s no shortage of selection when you’re shopping for backgrounds to display behind your church’s worship lyrics. However, not all motions are created equal. There are certain qualities that you should look for before spending your ministry’s money on this content.

Here are six qualities that should be non-negotiable when choosing your motion backgrounds:

1. Clean and Modern Design

It seems right to begin this list with the first characteristic that makes or breaks a motion for me. The very purpose of a background is to make slides visually pleasing. Part of looking good is following current design trends. Ditch the doves, hi-tech themes, and waterfalls, then choose motions that fit in with today’s styles.

2. Designed To Work With White Text

I would estimate that around 90% of lyrics being projected in churches on Sundays are using white text. Why? It works best for visibility. White is the brightest color you can get out of projector, it stands out from other colors, and it’s easy to read. The best motions avoid light colors and bright animations that would make white text difficult to see.

3. Animations Are Engaging, Not Distracting

Have you ever seen a motion that seemed like it drank a couple Redbulls before service? While animations provide a great way to create an engaging atmosphere, you must be careful that they aren’t too distracting. The perfect motion’s animations flow with music and add value to the environment without taking away from the moment.

4. Colors Are Rich and Vibrant

My favorite motion backgrounds seem like they come alive when they’re projected. Rich, vibrant colors look amazing when they’re shown on good projectors. Also, when you’re working with cheaper projectors, they are sometimes the only saving grace that allow your lyrics to show up at all.

5. Loop Matches Up Perfectly

All motions should be designed to perfectly loop. The end of the video should flawlessly line up with the beginning to create a seamless animation that could repeat infinitely without your audience ever knowing it looped once. Unfortunately, I’ve seen quite a few backgrounds that haven’t been up to par in this department. This is why it’s so important to get your motions from experienced producers who know what they’re doing.

6. Works Well With Other Media

Great motion backgrounds are designed to work well with other media you may be using on a Sunday morning. It may come in pack with several coordinating backgrounds and countdowns, or it may just have colors that make it play nice with a lot of other content in your media library. In a best case scenario, all of your media used throughout the service will match and carry a common theme.

Do you have any other qualities that you look for when selecting motion backgrounds? Let us know in the comments below or send us a tweet to @CreativePastor!