Too many times the creative process for worship and ministry falls to one man (or woman). Sometimes it’s the pastor, sometimes there’s a creative director or worship leader, and sometimes it’s just a talented volunteer from within the church.
No matter the case, preparing a vibrant worship experience, complete with visuals and other elements, is a daunting task for one person to undertake each week.
Been there, done that!
For me, I was the creative director for a contemporary worship experience that took place in a mainstream, traditional church environment. I basically did everything but write and preach the sermon.
From that experience, I developed a workflow that became quite natural for me each week as I was preparing the service. Here are some tips from my experience:
1. Have a Vision
Most times I simply got a scripture reference, a sermon title, and a little heads-up on the main theme of the message. From this I was expected to develop a music setlist, a title graphic, create the sermon slideshow, and build the service in our presentation software, complete with song backgrounds, transitions, and any other multimedia elements that would help to communicate the message (all this before I actually stood up and led worship…but that’s another story!)
So, the bottom line was, if I didn’t have a clear vision of how to visually represent the idea, then I was dead in the water. As soon as I learned what the scripture and title would be, I started brainstorming and visualizing ideas in my head. Most of the time, once I landed on what I wanted, I would build the backgrounds, etc. from that same main theme (colors, fonts, images, etc.)
The big idea about vision is knowing what audience you’re talking to. I knew the demographic of our service and what things they would recognize and respond to as well as those they wouldn’t appreciate as much. This overall knowledge helped me to limit my scope while customizing the experience to those who would be participating in it.
2. Do a Few Things, and Do Them Well
There was no time for me to create and implement every possibility as I was designing the worship experience, so I stuck to what I knew, and I made those elements the highest quality that I possibly could. My big thing was creating the title graphics. I got pretty good at creating what I would envision in my mind as being the best representation of the title and theme.
The rest (backgrounds, video elements, etc.) I left up to stock images or pre-produced content (a la Worship House, ShiftWorship, etc.).
3. Know the Strengths and Weaknesses of your Team
I did have a tech team to rely on to run sound and operate the presentation software during the worship experience. However, I knew that my presentation guy was not a great graphic artist, nor was my sound guy a great musician or purveyor of worship music.
However, for example, my presentation guy could build a basic service in the software, as long as I could list out every element and image so that he could go right to them and stick them in. I knew what I had to complete on my own, and what I could simply leave up to them.
4. Set Aside Time for Specific Tasks
As I developed our worship experiences each week, I had a time schedule always in the back of my head. I knew that if I didn’t get certain things done first, I would get distracted by doing them later in the week while I should have been finalizing other elements. So, I made sure that I had specific times scheduled to do specific things.
For example, the most time-consuming thing was usually creating the title graphic, so I got it started and, for the most part, finalized early in the week so that I had it to refer to and as inspiration for the other elements to include.
I also had one night a week set aside to do song selection and, at the same time, pick the backgrounds that I would be using for each one. This killed two birds with one stone, but also allowed me to pass those things along to my presentation guy to start building the service pretty early in the week.
5. Know Your Tools
One big time-saving strategy for me was that I knew exactly what tools I had to work with, and which ones I preferred to use to get the job done. My weapons of choice were Photoshop, SongShow Plus, and (yes, I admit it) Powerpoint.
Knowing my abilities and limitations in each piece of software, etc. helped me manage my tasks and increase my productivity.
[Image from Ryantron]