All posts tagged message

7 Foolproof Tips For More Creative Sermons

7 Foolproof Tips For More Creative Sermons

Lead pastors, preachers, and teaching pastors, your job does not come easy. There is an incredible amount of pressure to deliver excellent messages week after week. You spend a ton of time and energy preparing to deliver sermons that you just pray will connect with your audience. Then, you hear stats like 90% of unchurched people choose a church based on the pastor or preaching. (Thom Rainer) You have my respect.

Because of this high demand for engaging sermons, I set out to offer my most practical tips to add some creativity to your messages. My hope is that they will inspire you and help make your sermons fresh and unique for your audience.

1. Tell More Stories

People love a good story. From the dawn of time we have shared stories as a method of communication and that’s because they work. Audience members who have checked out in the first ten minutes will spring to life when you say, “Recently, when I took my family on a camping trip…” or “I was reading recently about Stephen Spielberg’s first days in the movie business…” If a story is well-chosen and told effectively, you’ll get your point across in a way a normal lecture never could.

2. Brainstorm With A Few Creative Friends

This works hand-in-hand with the previous tip. Have you ever attended a church so long that you learned all of the pastor’s go-to stories? I have. I’ve been the person sitting in the pew thinking, “Seriously? You’re telling this story again?” Keep this from happening by inviting a few trusted friends into your sermon prep. This immediately adds to your illustration arsenal. For example, your last point may be about integrity and your colleague may have the perfect story to really drive that idea home.

3. Include Movie, TV, or Audio Clips

Playing clips from popular movies, TV shows, or even songs can be a powerful way to enhance sermon points. It gets people excited about your message and creates memorable teaching moments. Not to mention you get to leverage the skills of Hollywood’s most talented storytellers. Luckily, it’s fairly easy to obtain the rights to play clips like this with a simple CCVI license and there are clip services like WingClips.

4. Show A Mini-Movie

Similar to playing a clip from a feature-length film, mini-movies are a great way to communicate ideas in a powerful way. What makes this option so effective is that these clips are specifically created to be used in churches. Far too often I see these videos only used by pastors on special occasions like holidays. I would encourage you to build these into your normal preaching schedule or aim for at least once a month. Take a regular visit to WorshipHouse to see what’s new or consider a subscription from Igniter or Centerline.

5. Incorporate A Prop

Several months ago, I visited a Sunday service to hear a pastor friend of mine speak. For full disclosure, I’ll admit that he is one of my all-time favorite preachers. One thing that he has always been amazing at is including a prop in his sermon. On this occasion, he brought out a simple umbrella for his illustration and, yes, he opened it! The moment that umbrella opened every eye in the auditorium was focused on him. He first used it to complement a story of his family stuck in the rain but then brought it back to illustrate the covering of God’s protection. I’ve seen everything from baseball gloves to pizza boxes to medieval swords used like this. Don’t be afraid to get creative to make a memorable moment.

6. Show A Testimony Video

I recently visited a church where the pastor communicated a fantastic sermon on giving. Weeks later I’m still feeling encouraged that my giving makes a difference in both my life and in the Kingdom. But as I look back, I cannot recall the pastor’s exact sermon points or give you a list of specific scriptures. What has stuck with me, however, is a 3 minute testimony video of one of their members sharing how tithing changed their life. It was an incredible video that validated everything the pastor had been preaching for 30 minutes. (Watch it here.)

7. Include More Photos

One of the best ways to make your sermon more alive is to display photos to accompany your words. For example, if you’re sharing a quote from C.S. Lewis, why not show a photo of him alongside your quoted text? Or if you’re telling a story of a snowstorm from a few years back, why not display a photo of just how deep it was. It can even be helpful to lighten the mood with a funny photo of your kids or something that you saw during the week. The key to all of these is to be intentional that it all has a purpose and that it adds to your message rather than distracting.

 

Have you tried any of these tips? Is there anything that you would add to the list? Let us know in the comments below!

 

Inspiration: Ephesians Pre-Teaching Bumper


Ephesians series bumper from DaystarGSO on Vimeo.

I’ve seen sermon bumper videos used for years now in many churches, but I’ve never been a huge fan. For the most part, they’ve just been sermon artwork with some cheesy After Effect animation and music. Besides preventing a brief moment of awkward transition from singing to preaching, they’ve seemed like a waste of creative energy to me. That’s until I started seeing churches using these bumpers for pre-teaching.

This video is a perfect example of giving your audience a small taste of what’s coming in the sermon. By presenting information in a visually appealing way, it’s easy to capture the attention of your congregation. I love how this church used this bumper to provide a little background info on the passage so that the pastor didn’t have to explain it each week of the series. Overall, this method works great for both an exciting intro and briefing your audience on the subject at hand.

Have you ever used a “pre-teaching” bumper video?

Five Qualities of Great Sermon Slides

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For a lot of churches, you’ve moved beyond the conversation on how you can integrate sermon slides into your services. You’ve got a PowerPoint, Keynote, or your slides in ProPresenter covered. You’ve been there, done that, and got the t-shirt. But, just because you have these components in your service doesn’t make them effective. Sermon slides are not foolproof. In fact, I would even say that sermon slides done wrong could even distract from your preaching.

Here are five qualities of all great sermon slides:

1. They Have Engaging Imagery

Son of God Sermon SlideWhen you step into Barnes & Noble, you’re greeted by captivating imagery on every shelf. As you walk down the New York Times Bestseller aisle, you see excellent design on every cover. Why is this? Publishers know that to get 1,000 pages of story to sell in this age, you must first sell engaging imagery. It’s the same for us on Sunday mornings. For people to spend 20-40 minutes listening to your story, you must give them an engaging “cover” to capture their attention. The best way to accomplish this is with a great title slide that sparks the curiosity of your listeners.

2. They Make It Easier To Follow Along

Scripture-2You know what Sundays are famous for other than church? Sleeping. You know what sermons are famous for? Putting people to sleep. Don’t be that church. Don’t be that preacher. What if I told you that great sermon slides would keep your audience more attentive during messages? By displaying all of your scriptures, quotes, and points, you’re more likely to keep listeners’ minds off of other things and their eyes from dozing. Also, by presenting your information in two ways (speech and text), you’ll make it easier to follow your train of thought.

3. They Illustrate Your Message

Dad_Photo_SlideAccording to the 3M Corporation, we process visuals 60,000 times faster than text. People have higher levels of attention, comprehension, and retention when teaching is presented in a visually rich form. God has clearly wired us to be a visual people. Beyond a great title slide, I recommend building images into your slides throughout your message. Telling a story from when you were a kid? Why not show a childhood photo? Speaking on fatherhood? Why not show a photo of a father and son together? People connect with images in a way that goes so much further than your words. When combined, you’ll leave a lasting impression.

4. They Make It Simple To Take Notes

Sermon_Slide_Template-Images.005One of the biggest things I learned from visiting Elevation Church, one of the fastest growing churches in America, is that taking notes is a big deal. When you walk into the super modern church, everyone is given a 8.5 x 5.5 note card and a pen. When I first saw this card was mostly for taking notes on the sermon, I honestly chuckled a little at the thought that people were going to take notes in that kind of environment. But, to my surprise, everyone around me was taking notes on the pastor’s sermon. They made it super simple to do this by including every major point, scripture, and quote on their screens. They even went a step further by including some fill-in-the-blank points. Each of these slides were kept concise and were displayed long enough for everyone to jot them down.

5. They Scream “Share This Information!”

Sermon SlideA few days ago, I had one of my most popular tweets ever. It read, “A retweet is basically a digital AMEN.” When something resonates with people in 2014, our natural response is wanting to share it with our friends and followers. I suggest building your sermon slides in a way that encourages your congregation to share it with their social media audience. I recommend displaying a “social bar” for the entire duration of your message. This sermon slide add-on paints a clear picture of exactly how they can share this content with their friends. Include hashtags and all of the social networks your church is on. I also recommend displaying tweetable points that fit in Twitter’s 140 character limit.

Do you have any other tips for great sermon slides?

Free Motion of the Month – June ’14

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This month, we’ve teamed up with our friends at Igniter Media and they’re hooking you up with an awesome motion that is going to look killer in your services. I first saw this motion in a live worship experience and it immediately stood out to me. I really love how it blends modern shapes with nature. Be sure to check out their website for more motions, stills, and mini-movies.

This freebie is only available for the month of June 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.

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Creative Ministry Toolbox: Media Subscriptions

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I’ve been involved in church media for over ten years now. One of the best decisions I’ve made in my journey has been a shift from purchasing individual pieces of content to all-inclusive subscriptions.

Individual motions can cost up to $13 each now. Seriously? Ain’t nobody got the budget for that! And what about mini-movies? $20 videos add up fast when you use them as a regular part of your preaching.

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If your church is going to use media each week, the most logical choice is to invest in a subscription service. While there are several producers offering programs like this, I personally use two of them – Centerline New Media’s Complete Subscription and Church Motion Graphics’ Monthly Mega Pack.

While both of these companies do advertise with TCP, this blog post is not a paid endorsement. These subscriptions are actually in my creative ministry toolbox and I legitimately love using these products. I can solidly say that I’d recommend these to any church.

Here are three reasons why I love these subscriptions:

1. You Save A Ton of Money

A full subscription to Centerline will only cost you $200/year for a virtually unlimited supply of mini-movies, countdowns, motions, and stills. (They’ve even recently started including Photoshop sermon slides.) CMG’s Monthly Mega Pack is only $10 per month or $99/year and includes a fresh pack of motions, stills, and a new countdown each month. You’ll have great content each week without breaking the bank.

2. Consistency In Your Services

If you’re projecting lyrics, scripture, and sermon points in your services, they need to follow a common theme, color palette, and style. These subscriptions make this easy by providing matching motions, countdowns, and stills. You can easily start your service with their stills for announcement slides, flow into a coordinating countdown, use their motions for worship lyrics, and finish up with their stills for sermon slides. This coordination communicates intentionality and professionalism.

3. The Variety Will Stretch You

Both of these producers release new content each month, so you’re able to grow a diverse media library very quickly. They’re both devoted to stretching themselves to create new content outside of the norms and that has stretched me, too. Before signing up for these subscriptions, I tended to use only one particular style of media. Looking back, this was a recipe for boredom. These subscriptions have allowed me to try new things and experiment with different kinds of looks in our services.

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TCP Tip: As I’ve served in a creative ministry role under several lead pastors, I’ve learned that it’s always easier to present a larger one-time cost than multiple smaller expenses. Your leaders will feel much better about purchasing a subscription for the year than multiple random expenses throughout the year.

Find out more about Centerline’s subscription here and about CMG’s Monthly Mega Pack here.

Do you use either of these subscriptions? Let us know in the comments below!