All posts tagged projector

The Ultimate List of Free Stock Photo Resources

TheCreativePastor.com – The Ultimate List of Free Stock Photo Resources

Photos are some of the most valuable resources for creative ministry. While I’m a huge fan of using pictures that are actually taken in your church, I’ve learned that’s not always possible. That’s where stock photos come in. A great stock photo can provide professionalism, beauty, and quality that you may not have access to in your ministry.

A Google search for these valuable resources will generate an infinite number of websites with stock images ranging from a few bucks per photo to thousands of dollars per photo. (I literally think my Executive Pastor would pass out if I asked for a $1000 stock image.)

What if I told you that you could get absolutely beautiful stock photos for free? You’re not dreaming, my friend. Below are my favorite resources to download some of the best photos on the web for $0/photo. Some are even Christian-based, so they’re perfect for use inside your church.

1. Unsplash

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2. Death To The Stock Photo

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3. Lightstock’s Free Photo of the Week

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4. StockSnap.io

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5. Gratisography

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6. Freely Photos

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7. Life of Pix

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8. No More Clip Art

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9. Snapwire Snaps

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10. Picjumbo

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11. Jay Mantri

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12. New Old Stock

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Do you have any other resources for free stock photos? Let us know in the comments below!

20 Steps To Maximize ProPresenter On Your Mac

20 Steps To Maximize ProPresenter On Your Mac

In today’s guest post, we get to hear from the legendary Joel Smith from ChurchMedia.Pro:

When I was a tech director, I had a love/arrrgh relationship with ProPresenter. While it was 98% love (seriously, Renewed Vision has done an amazing job with this software), every once in a while I would discover new quirks about the software or the Mac. Everything in this list was implemented on our system and taken from my 13 years of experience with Macs and 7 years of experience with ProPresenter. That system ran solid week in and week out for 3 years with only one crash (sigh, nearly perfect).

This is a simple guide to help you get the most out of the software and system you have. It is not absolute and things will differ for every situation. I also don’t claim to be “the man” when it comes to ProPresenter or Macs. While I’m pulling from personal experience, I’m constantly learning and definitely not perfect. I encourage you to take this list and apply it in your own context to what works for you and your system. Without any further ado, let’s get started:

1. Use A Dedicated Computer

While this might be a no-brainer, it needs to be stated. Using a dedicated system is the best way to keep it running at its peak. If your daily computer or some multi-purpose production computer is also used for ProPresenter, the odds of issues happening go way up. Keeping a lean system is key to assuring everything runs smooth. It’s also easier to troubleshoot when things do go wrong.

2. Use A Solid State Hard Drive (SSD)

The cost of SSDs has dropped enough for it to become a fairly cheap way to boost performance in a computer. Now, this is not an “SSDs are better than spinning drives” argument. I recommend finding whatever works reliably for you. If you have a spinning drive that works great for you, keep using it. However, I have had great success using SSDs for system drives, especially in older systems. If you don’t have budget for a new system but want a performance boost, try installing an SSD. I recommend the Samsung EVO Pro series of drives or the OWC SSD drives from MacSales.

3. Use A Separate Hard Drive For Media/Content

Using a separate hard drive for all media/content can save you a ton of time and headaches if/when your system drive crashes. It will also save time when you need to do a clean install or re-install of the operating system. I used a 250GB SSD for the system drive (operating system only) and a high-performance 1 TB drive for content/media (videos, images, audio, ProPresenter library, backups of fonts and necessary system files). If you’re using a laptop for ProPresenter, a separate media/content drive is not necessary. You can run everything just fine off one drive, but having 2 drives makes system maintenance and upgrades more flexible.

4. Use A Solid Black Desktop Background

This way, if ProPresenter happens to crash the audience won’t see a pic of your family vacation or a galaxy on the screens.

5. Turn OFF Screen Savers

You don’t want the dictionary word of the day accidentally showing up an hour into an event or service.

6. Turn OFF Mission Control Settings

This includes hot keys and hot corners. This removes the chance of an operator accidentally bringing up Spaces or the Dashboard when running the software.

7. Turn OFF Notifications

This is just a way to eliminate distractions for operators. Notifications technically won’t hurt anything, but they could possibly get in the way of some button or slide.

8. Turn Display Off After NEVER

You don’t want the monitor to shut off during anything important. You can always physically turn monitors off when you leave (this is a good habit to have).

9. Turn OFF “Put hard drives to sleep when possible”

You don’t want your operator falling asleep, it’s the same for your hard drives.

10. Turn OFF Mouse Gestures

Not everyone uses the same gestures or mouse setup. Keep it simple by using only a standard left-click and right-click mouse setup. This means turning off multi-touch gestures and zooming. Also, I recommend the old school scroll down for down and scroll up for up.

11. Alert Volume OFF (0%)

It’s everyone’s luck that a duck quack alert will go off during a prayer or quiet moment. Disabling these alerts puts the odds in your favor.

12. Turn OFF “Play user interface sound effects”

This setting is key to avoiding any random sounds developed by your Mac. It also goes a long way to turn off “Play feedback when volume is changed” in your audio settings.

13. Turn OFF All System/Software Updates

You want to control what is updated and when it is updated. The last thing you need right before a service or event is OS X to update and something in that update break your system or cause issues. If it’s working, you shouldn’t have to update that often or at all.

14. Turn Time Machine OFF

If you need Time Machine, at least use a Time Machine scheduler to schedule around your event/service times. I used a scheduler to only allow backups between midnight and 6 AM. I also made a point to do manual backups of content and ProPresenter files every few months. This can be done by simply copying those files to an external hard drive.

15. System Volume At 100%

This should always stay the same. This ensures audio to your console/mixer is always the same. This also removes any guesswork when you need to troubleshoot audio issues. I’ve also found this lessens noise in trouble consoles when outputting from the headphone jack of the computer.

16. Close All Applications When Leaving The Computer

When I was on staff at the church, there were a few guys (ahem, student ministers) that were notorious for leaving ProPresenter open after their events. On a number of occasions I would notice, sometimes days later, that ProPresenter had locked up (as in frozen) because of this. One of my mantras was “leave it like you found it”. That meant closing all applications and restarting the computer when you were done. This way you were leaving the system ready for whoever came in next.

17. Be A Religious Restarter

I got made fun of when I was on staff at the church for always restarting computers. One thing I did with all production computers was leave them running 24/7 (running, never sleeping). This is not necessary but something I believe helps Macs run solid. Here’s the reason why I chose to leave them running. Restarting is an easy way to know the computer is running fresh before you begin. Since you may not know who was on the computer before you or what was done on it last, it’s always good to restart the computer before a rehearsal or event. Note: Be sure to deselect the “Reopen windows when logging back in” checkbox before restarting. If you’re on a laptop, I recommend shutting down after use and storage. It also wouldn’t hurt to leave the laptop plugged in and running overnight every few weeks.

18. Do Not Install Non-Essential Applications

This will hurt someone’s feelings, but I’m going to say it anyway. DO NOT INSTALL MICROSOFT OFFICE ON YOUR PROPRESENTER COMPUTER. In fact, don’t install any applications, preference panes or software that is not essential to running ProPresenter. If someone insists on sending you Microsoft Word .DOC files for notes or lyrics, either ask them to start sending PDFs or convert it on another computer. One of the great thing about Macs is that they can read most filetypes without running the necessary software.

19. Run ONLY ProPresenter During “Show Time”

A lot of people, especially those that don’t use Macs on a regular basis, tend to leave applications running on Mac and don’t realize they’re doing so. They think clicking the red X button in the top left of the app’s window quits the application, when in fact it just closes the window. They also may not understand what happens when an application is open or runs in the background. Make it a habit to close all apps on the computer before things get started. Better yet, make it a policy that no apps except ProPresenter can run on that computer at all times. This was more of an issue a few years ago when it was pushing even the sturdiest of systems to run ProPresenter. Now it’s not as big of a deal if you have a newer system, but it is still a good habit to practice.

20. Reinstall The OS Every 12–18 Months

Even the best of systems need a refresh every year or so. Cache files, missing file links and corrupt files build up over time and can cause the system to slow down. I made it priority to reinstall a fresh (no Time Machine backups) installation of OS X every year or so. It may seem overkill or too much work, but if it saves one major crash it’s worth it.

Bonus Tips/Tricks

  • Create a custom desktop background for the main monitor with the computer’s title. That way anyone walking in knows what the computer does. It also helps to recognize easily what computer you’re on if you screen share often.
  • Schedule the computer to restart automatically on a schedule. I set our system to restart every Sunday morning at 6:00 AM so it was fresh for rehearsal at 7:45.
  • Use a wired keyboard and mouse. Nothing worse than batteries dying at the worst time.

What other things do you do to keep your system running snappy? Let me know in the comments!

9 Easy Ideas For A Memorable Christmas Service

TheCreativePastor.com – 9 Easy Ideas For A Memorable Christmas Service

The Christmas season is such a unique time of the year for ministry. Not only do studies show that more people are likely to fill your pews in this time, but that their hearts are much more conditioned to receive a message. Because of this, it’s common to see churches everywhere working diligently in preparation for the coming crowds at their Christmas service.

As your church prepares for this big day of celebrating the birth of our Savior and sharing the hope found in Him, I’ve come up with nine easy ideas to make your Christmas service memorable. I selected each of these to share with you from personal victories. I’ve seen these ideas work wonders and I know they’ll do the same for you. Check them out and let me know which are your favorites in the comments below!

1. Create An Exciting Christmas Playlist

One of the easiest ways to improve an atmosphere is with the music playing in the background. With a Spotify account in your tool belt, you’re equipped to make an awesome playlist that really sets the tone for your Christmas services. This works great in your lobby, before service, and as people exit. For our church’s “How To Survive The Holidays” series this month, we went with a fun playlist, but I’ve used other lists similar to this in the past.

2. Add Some Holiday Tastes And Smells

Imagine taking a pan of fresh baked Christmas cookies out of the oven and taking that first bite. Or imagine decorating a fresh, live Christmas tree. I’d be willing to bet that tastes and smells immediately came to mind as you read this. Scents and tastes provide such powerful memories for us. Around Christmas time, our church strategically sprays holiday themed air freshener all around our facility 15 minutes before our guests arrive for a noticeable scent. I also love bringing in fresh baked cookies and hot cocoa for the day. Even offering peppermint syrup with your normal coffee is a plus.

3. Create A Holiday Photo Booth

Whether it’s a simple DIY backdrop made of wrapping paper or a custom printed banner, this is a fun way to encourage guests to pause and snap a photo. If you have a willing photographer on your team, you can even capture these photos and share them on your church’s social media pages. Photo booths are an easy win that create lasting memories and they equip guests to share their experience with others.

4. Use A Roll Up Banner To Mark The Occasion

Roll-up banners not only look great in your church’s lobby, they are an awesome way to celebrate special events. I’ve been ordering this affordable banner for our church and have been extremely impressed with the quality. Plus, it seems huge compared to other roll ups that I’ve ordered in the past. Use one of these banners to showcase your sermon artwork for the day or simply a “Merry Christmas from Your Church” message as people enter your facility.

5. Host A Fun Christmas Poll On Social Media

PC-Social_Quotes-Set_4-39On Sunday, I had some fun with our congregation as I welcomed everyone to our service. Using this graphic, I polled our audience on their favorite Christmas movie by asking them to vote by commenting on this same image on our church’s Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Using their smartphones, they casted their votes and we revealed the results later in our service. People loved it! It was an easy way to bring some interactivity to our service and we boosted this post on Facebook so that all of their friends would see their involvement.

6. Add Some Christmas Songs To Your Setlist

Not only can Christmas songs bring some excitement to your services, but they can bring some well-appreciated familiarity for guests. Every year, popular artists inside and out of the Christian music genre release updated versions of these classic favorites. There is also an extremely large number of these songs available on MultiTracks.com. Simply adding one or two to your setlist may be just the thing you need for a memorable day.

7. Use Christmas Motion Backgrounds

Motion backgrounds are a great way to make your time of singing more engaging. Because there are so many producers these days, there is no shortage of variety. I recommend choosing motions that not only look good, but complement the overall theme of your service. For example, our large Christmas service on the 21st has a warm, rustic theme centered around the nativity. A fast-paced, red motion with snow fall wouldn’t work well with this theme, but a slow, amber bokeh motion would fit right in.

8. Use A Real-Life Nativity Photo For Sermon Art

lightstock-56933-baby-jesus-in-the-manger--3I’ve been truly impressed by the nativity photos at Lightstock and chose to use one of them in my own sermon artwork for Piedmont Chapel. For a lot of people, their view of Christ’s birth is wrapped up in years of tiny, porcelain nativity scenes or glowing plastic decorations in front of peoples’ homes. Using real-life imagery has a way of reminding us that this miracle truly happened.

9. Use An Out of the Box Sermon Illustration

One of the easiest ways to make your Sunday sermons memorable is by using an illustration to make your point. The use of a simple prop, photo, or video can make a massive difference on the retention rate of your audience. Simple, spoken word sermons come and go, but people hold on to messages that use a visual aid for years.

Do you have any other ideas that you’d add to the list? Let us know in the comments below!

Six Great Mini-Movies For Thanksgiving Sunday

Six Great Mini-Movies For Thanksgiving Sunday

Thanksgiving Sunday is almost here and these mini-movies will work perfect in your services. Because of all the busyness, cooking, and shopping, it’s easy for this holiday to pass right by without us really taking time to thank God for our many blessings. I’ve found that showing mini-movies like these is the perfect way to inspire your congregation to pause and reflect on the subject.

These are my personal favorites from the large collection over at WorshipHouse. Check them out and tell us in the comments below which is your favorite! Or, if you have another that you’d recommend, let us know!


You can purchase “Give Thanks Worship Intro” here.


You can purchase “Thankful People” here.


You can purchase “A Prayer of Thanksgiving” here.


You can purchase “Messy Blessings” here.


You can purchase “The Cure” here.


You can purchase “Give Thanks” here.

Five Creative Ministry Tips: 11/06/2014

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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!

Motions aren't universal. Choose backgrounds that fit your unique congregation. Consider age and worship style. Highlighting volunteers on your church's social pages is a great way to inspire others to get involved.
All fonts should be legible and appropriate for what you are communicating. "I'm so glad I didn't waste my time proofreading.” (said no one ever) It's impossible to do everything, but you can do a few things really well. Choose your projects carefully and give them your all.

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