How to Keep Church Media Up to Date and Relevant
Churches change incredibly fast. The type and style of music, the lighting setups of all the major “big” churches who set the pace for mainstream church culture, and the type of media we use on our screens.
Any of us who’ve worked behind the scenes in some capacity have all seen the phases of development from a creative standpoint. Old CCM and choral music to modern day worship, nature-based natural images to abstract fast-paced motion backgrounds, etc. The gist is – church production changes fast, and it can be difficult to know if, when, and how your church should adapt to the mainstream church culture at large.
So, while your church should do what is right for your culture and congregation, these are a few ways that you can try to stay up-to-date and relevant with your church media:
Watch Bigger Churches
Let me be clear – mimicking big churches absolutely does not need to be – and in most cases actually shouldn’t be – the goal of every church. Being a big church comes with pros and cons, and they embrace them both when structuring the way they approach their media and music. You should do the same. Maybe you’re not in a stadium with a 100ft wide LED screen, so their media won’t work the same way on your screens as it does on theirs. Embrace your strengths and weaknesses and keep them in mind as you navigate this conversation.
With that said, it would be disingenuous to say that the larger globally recognizable churches have no impact on the relevancy of music and media. They absolutely shape many expectations for how churches evolve and what a worship service should look like.
Do what you want in the end, but I think it’s important to at least pay attention to the way media preferences shift in bigger churches. Nature vs. abstract backgrounds, video with lower thirds vs. no video, media on sermon slides, countdowns, livestream vs. in-person services. These types of details are changing constantly, and it’s in your best interest to expose yourself to a variety of sources for how you can modify your own church media. Look at local mega-churches, look at global mega-churches, and find out the way that presentations are changing even in comparison to a year ago.
Learn Your Presentation Software’s Ins and Outs
So many churches’ media capabilities are capped by their media/tech director’s knowledge of their presentation software. If you don’t know how to build a countdown clock in your presentation software, you’re limited to using stock countdowns provided by media producers. If you don’t know how to create slideshows of different images or videos, you’re limited by what’s available online. If you don’t know how to change the color of videos in your presentation software, you can only use the colors produced in the motion backgrounds on media sites.
Spend time learning your presentation software! Even if it means getting to rehearsal or Sunday morning just 30-minutes early to watch a YouTube video about something new and try it out. Pursue excellence! All of us who are contributing to church services are “leaders” on some level, and leaders are called to a higher standard by scriptural expectations. Take your role seriously! Love what you do! Find the joy in it. Grow in it. Learn more, try new things, and pursue excellence always.
People think inspiration comes from being exposed to new materials, but inspiration for new ideas can come from anywhere – even learning more about your existing tools. You never know the way that simply learning more about your presentation software can widen your view for what’s possible to accomplish on your church media team.
We all have the best intentions to change our church media over time. Whether it be the pre-service welcome video, the countdown slideshow, the worship intro, etc. We all plan on using it for a while and changing it “eventually.” But as life gets busy and our attention is redirected elsewhere, we lose site of those goals and settle into a routine of using the same available tools, resources, and media.
Schedule the necessary changes to your church media. Decide that every 6-months you’ll change the pre-roll to your church services, change out the background rotation of motion backgrounds used during worship, or re-evaluate the media you put on your livestreams.
Scheduling changes for Fall Kick-Off or Spring services can keep you (and your team) accountable for evolving as your church gets older.
About the Author
Chris Fleming is a professional musician from Minneapolis, MN who has played with artists such as Big Daddy Weave and Jason Gray. He is actively involved with the CCM worship scene and has contributed as a drummer, music director, song writer, and producer for various worship artists and churches locally and nationally. Chris serves as the Creative Director at Motion Worship, helping to write various blog posts and tutorials on production, stage, Ableton, music, design, and tons of other topics.