A few friends of mine and I came together a couple of weeks ago to put together a series of activities/practices/conversations/actions to help families prepare for Christmas this year. The Advent Calendar is ready for people to download and use in their household. Perhaps you’ve got a number of families in your community who would find this useful, perhaps you’ve a Messy Church community who would like this to assist them to prepare for Christmas, perhaps your own family would like to use the calendar to prepare yourselves?
Whichever it is, feel free to download, use and pass on the calendar to others who you think would find this useful.
A special thank you goes to Emma Parr, Aimee Kent and Daniel Mossfield who pulled together the creative juices and helped to put this thing together.
Download the Calendar here:
- Family Advent Calendar 2016 – pdf
- Family Advent Calendar – Pages document
- Family Advent Calendar – docx file
Fridge Advent Calendar
Emma Parr has put the Advent Calendar into a format that can easily be printed and placed on fridges, you can download the calendar from the children’s Ministry website here: http://childrensministry.org.au/2016/11/advent-home-cal/
Links and clips from the Calendar:
- Sunday 27th November – Create: Paper advent wreath TEMPLATE.
- Tuesday 29th Nov – Song: Kingdom Come
- Wednesday 30th Nov – Bible Reading Luke 1:26-33
- Wednesday 7 December – Bible Reading Luke 1:39-56
- Wednesday 7 December – Listen and watch: Magnificat Spoken word
- Tuesday 13th December – Listen and watch: “Mary, did you know?”
- Wednesday 14 December – Bible Reading: Luke 2:8-14
- Sunday 18th December – Create: Paper DIY Nativity TEMPLATE
- Wednesday 21st December Watch: An interpretation of the Nativity story
- Thursday 22nd December – Read: If I were a Refugee by Leunig
- Saturday 24th December – Watch and Listen: The Smallest Gift of Christmas
If you found this useful then perhaps these posts may also interest you:
I’m currently working towards becoming recognised as being able to celebrate weddings within the Uniting Church in Australia. As a part of the course I’m to write a wedding liturgy. The wedding liturgy I’m writing up here is the liturgy we created for the celebration of our wedding, the wedding of Darren and Holly. For the most part it follows the liturgy format of the UCA, with a few creative choices we made that stayed within the realm of the liturgy in UIW.
I’ve been meaning to do this for quite some time, but for one reason or other we’ve never really written up the service that we had created, writing it now brings back many memories, it really was an amazing day, to think that the week before the day was freezing and wet, we started to doubt some of our choices (like hosting the service outdoors)
Precursor – I remember attending the wedding of a couple of close friends with Holly, the couple had recently began to attend worship with us, the groom had been a part of a UCA when he was much younger while the bride had started to attend with him as they moved towards getting married. The majority of their friends and family who attended the service I assume were not church people which was apparent due to the participation of the community during the singing and prayers.
On the way home Holly turned to me and said “wasn’t the service so beautiful?” to which I ill-advisedly responded by asking if we were at the same service. I spoke of how the community didn’t participate in anything, during the hymns they stood kicking pews, hands in pockets looking uncomfortable. During the prayers they sat there, looking uncomfortable, sharing glimpses of communication with each other and finally, during the sermon they talked to each other and played on their phones.
Holly responded upset, it seemed that we had both attended a different service.
I tried to quickly remove the foot from my mouth and asked “what did you find beautiful?”
She reflected on the couple, on their passion for each other, on the community who gathered around them, of the joy of the party around them who revelled in the couple’s relationship, on twelve of the family and friends who would gather around them even in a gathering that was completely out of their comfort level.
I agreed, we had been at the same celebration.
We talked about what we would hold important in our wedding liturgy, the main concerns were
- reflecting our relationship,
- inclusion of our community (children, youth, families)
- reimagining the “preaching of the Word”
- the inclusion of music which didn’t require communal singing
- prayer that was interactive and creative
- inclusion of people for whom a church building may be alienating or difficult (we chose an outdoor venue, one of the major considerations here was the sheer number of children and young people who would be present for the celebration)
These are some of the considerations we made when we were curating the liturgy for our service.
Weeks Before The Celebration
When we sent out the invitations we included cardboard cutouts of flowers. With the flowers there was an instruction to decorate the flowers with paint, crayons, texts, collage and to also write a prayer, hope or dream for the couple on the flower. If people were attending the celebration we asked them to bring their flowers with them, if they were unable to come we invited them to mail in their flower to us, or to someone else attending.
We created a Chuppah out of torn pieces of material and bamboo sticks.
A chuppah (Hebrew: חוּפָּה, pl. חוּפּוֹת, chuppot, literally, “canopy” or “covering” – pronounced huppah), is a canopy under which a Jewish couple would stand during their wedding ceremony. It consists of a cloth or sheet, sometimes a tallit, stretched or supported over four poles, or sometimes manually held up by attendants to the ceremony. A chuppah symbolizes the home that the couple will build together. Darren first read of the chuppah as he read through Rob Bell’s book “Sex God” and Darren liked the idea so much that we decided to build one for the service.
The Morning Before The Celebration
We invited the community to pitch in and participate in the preparation of the day’s celebrations.
The men were invited to join Darren at the venue where they would set up the chairs, chuppah and tables in preparation for everyone’s arrival. We held a bbq and ate bacon and egg rolls as we worked and laughed and prepared for the celebration. The community was great, we all pitched in and rolled up our sleeves.
The women were invited to gather at the house where Holly was preparing, together they shared breakfast, laughter, stories and support for the bridal party. Some of our friends helped with make up, others with the hair, everyone was involved and supportive.
Immediately Before The Celebration
As people arrived they were invited to design a flower (if they hadn’t already done) and prayer, hope or dream that you have for Darren and Holly as they become husband and wife.
As people arrived they also were asked to take a ribbon attached to a coloured cutout of an autumn leaf and to write their definition/description of love onto the ribbon and tie it to the Chuppah which was now set up at the front of the space.
As people arrive – Ambient Music
Bride Introduction – Book of Love by Magnetic Fields (Darren to play on guitar)
Prayer (Planting Flowers) – All is Love by Karen O and Nick Zinner
Prayer – Prayer of St Francis by Sarah Mclachlan (sung by Natalie and Jared)
Registrar Signing – Real Love by The Beatles (sung by Natalie and Jared)
Outro – Fool For You by John Butler
Dance – Space Cannot Touch by Kate Miller-Heidke
The Marriage Service
Bridal Party entrance
Bride walks up to the worship space the groom will begin to play the song “The Book of Love” to which the Bride and her crew (bride, father, mother, bridesmaids) will walk down the aisle to the music. (backup – will have the song on ipod also)
Bridal Party – Jen Lobb, Bess Harcther, Keith and Megan Holly Lobb
Music – Book of Love by The Magnetic Fields (Sung by Darren)
The book of love is long and boring
No one can lift the damn thing
It’s full of charts and facts and figures
And instructions for dancing but
I love it when you read to me and
You can read me anything
The book of love has music in it
In fact that’s where music comes from
Some of it is just transcendental
Some of it is just really dumb but
I love it when you sing to me and
You can sing me anything
The book of love is long and boring
And written very long ago
It’s full of flowers and heart-shaped boxes
And things we’re all too young to know but
I love it when you give me things and
You ought to give me wedding rings
I love it when you give me things and
You ought to give me wedding rings
- Greeting and Welcome
- Mosese to introduce himself
- Breakdown of what will happen during the ceremony (this afternoon we will celebrate the marriage of Darren and Holly, together we shall listen to words from the gospel of Mark, hear words sung by friends of Darren and Holly from songs that hold special meanings for today, listen to friends of Darren and Holly sharing some of their wisdom, plant our prayers of hope and support around the couple, be a witness to the vows and giving of rings of Darren and Holly and finally we shall celebrate together, eat and have fun)
- Acknowledgement of Traditional Custodians of the Land
We would like to first acknowledge that Indigenous Australians are the first peoples of this land and the Wiradjuri peoples are the first regional custodians of the Wagga Wagga area and have cared for this land since time immemorial.
Call to Worship – A Welcome Rant (Mosese) (Joyful! – Loud!)
God is here, his spirit is with us
This is not a performance. This is our worship
Today let us come together to meet God in a way that includes everyone here as a participant.
In as much as we give in worship, so we might receive from God.
This is an act of faith.
Today we come together to celebrate with Darren and Holly, and you, their family and friends.
We invite you to bring your whole self, your thoughts, fears, hurts, joy, faith, hope and love to God.
Let us celebrate our coming together in worship
For our one sure hope is that God is here
And our God is Love
and those who live in love live in God
and God lives in them
Matthew [NRSV] 5:1-10 (Lisa Wright)
When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying:
‘Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
‘Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
‘Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
‘Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
‘Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.
‘Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
‘Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
‘Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
‘Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely* on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
‘You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything, but is thrown out and trampled under foot.
‘You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hidden. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lamp-stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.
Prayer (Natalie and Jared)
Natalie: “Forgive us for the times where we have not loved, where our apathy has controlled us”
Natalie and Jared sing the song:
“Prayer of St Francis” by Sarah Mclachlan ( https://youtu.be/agPnMxp5Occ )
Lord make me an instrument of your peace,
Where there is hatred let me sow love.
Where there is injury, pardon.
Where there is doubt, faith.
Where there is despair, hope.
Where there is darkness, light.
And where there is sadness, joy.
O divine master grant that I may
not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
To be loved as to love
For it is in giving that we receive-
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned.
And it’s in dying that we are born to eternal life.
Declaration of Purpose (Mosese – straight from the Order of Service)
Service of the Word (10 minutes)
We asked a few friends to share & reflect on their marriage and faith.
- – Adrian & Lyndal Greenwood (How has your love challenged/supported your discipleship journey? / How have you both been able to live out your lives as disciples and a married couple?)
- – Mosese & Seini Taufa (What does “love” mean to you?)
- – Neena & Warren Evans (What have you learned about love over the course of your married life?)
- Neena and Warren shared a picture book – Amy & Henry by Stephen Michael King
Declaration of Intent (Mosese – straight from the Order of Service)
Affirmation by the families (Mosese – straight from the Order of Service)
Invite all the family to stand up (ALL of the immediate families – both Holly and Darren’s)
Do all of you give your blessing to Holly and Darren and promise to support them in their marriage?
Affirmation by the people (Mosese – straight from the Order of Service)
Will you, the families and friends of Holly and Darren, who have come to share this wedding day, give them your blessing and support?
(After the “affirmation by the people” the community will enter into a time of prayer where they are invited to come forward and “plant” their flowers around the couple as an act of prayer – surrounding them in prayer. Song playing on cd during the prayer “All is Love” by Karen O https://youtu.be/jTtddTpl4m8 )
Invitation to Prayer (Katherine McCorkindale)
Now is the time you’ve been waiting for
It’s time to plant your flowers
Let’s enter into prayer together
As we all walk towards the couple and plant our prayers and hopes around them
Let our prayers focus on the couple today
As they come to the most holy part of this service
Let us pray
(motion for people to walk towards the couple and plant their flowers)
The Vows – Option B (Mosese – straight from the Order of Service)
I, N in the presence of God
take you, N, to be my husband/wife
All that I am I give to you
and all that I have I share with you.
Whatever the future holds,
I will love you and stand by you
as long as we both shall live.
This is my solemn vow.
Blessing of the Marriage – Mosese to share a Option C
- No wedding candle, instead one or two of the children help the couple pick a bouquet of the “flowers” to take with them as they recess?
Prayers for the couple – (Mosese)
Invite family to come forward and lay hands on the couple.
Invite community to join hands
- Signing of Registrar
- Natalie and Jared to sing “Real Love by The Beatles”
Real Love by The Beatles
All my little plans and schemes
Lost like some forgotten dreams
Seems that all I really was doing
Was waiting for you
No need to be alone
No need to be alone
It’s real love
Oh it’s real, oh it’s real love
All the little girls and boys
Playing with their little toys
Seems that all they really were doing
Was waiting for love
No need to be alone…
From this moment on I know
Exactly where my life will go
Seems that all I really was doing
Was waiting for love
No need to be afraid…
Thought I’d been in love before,
But in my heart I wanted more
Seems that all I really was doing
Was waiting for you
No need to be alone…
… It’s real love
Notices – (Mosese)
- Reminder that confetti is a bad idea and will get the couple into trouble.
- Reminder that Lunch will be served here, but before that the couple will need to do a quick dash to take some photos, feel free to play some games, have some fun, meet new friends and family until they re-join us in a little while.
- Reminder where toilets etc are
- Instruction re cameras – please send your photos of today to Darren and Holly, we may also have a computer on site for stealing photos from people. ( to be printed also on the order of service)
Blessing (Mosese / Seini in Tongan)
This week’s lectionary reading is the story of the “Prodigal Son” or of the “Ungrateful Senior Son” or “The Father of Grace,” whatever you’d like to call it. The actual reading was: Luke 15:1-3, 11b-32
As I was pondering and reading I remembered this story I wrote a number of years ago when this particular reading and I was sitting in another sermon…
I’m currently calling this The Prodigal Part Deux – The Brother Bites Back.
The elder son, having heard news of his father’s extravagant grace and the way that he had welcomed his younger brother back into the house became outraged. (How dare his father welcome that ungrateful prick back into the house like that, and what’s up with not inviting him to the party?) Having to be told about all of this by a servant made matters worse…
Incensed the older brother took off, away from the household and gathered the troops, many of the young men and women from the town gathered at the local town hall where they were told that it’s possible that their and other fathers may also share the same philosophy, and, even more frightening there could be hundreds of fathers all over the land welcoming back ungrateful and undeserving children back into their families, that others may also suffer the same injustice that he had been served at the hand of his nutty father.
The outraged mob developed a plan that would make sure that this kind of injustice would never happen again, or if it were going to happen the wretched prodigals would have to at the very least have to earn their passage.
The plan that they developed was quite devious, and very simple.
Together they formed a society of people who would keep an eye out for prodigal sons and daughters traveling down the roads around their home town, heading back home. When these prodigals were sighted it became someone’s task to head down the road and try and turn them back.
Various practices would be performed in order to deter the hopeful prodigal from continuing down the road. Conversations would encourage the hopeful to think about how hard the rest of the road home would be, they would plant seeds of doubt in their father’s potential to forgive, they’d play guilt trips, created rituals for people to perform in order to prove their worth, (many of which were quite impossible to complete) and generally make the journey back to where they came from seem simple and preferable to the rest of the road ahead of them.
The society would preach a message of repentance, and they would make it almost impossible for people to completely feel like they were ever going to be forgiven, their motto was that the road to forgiveness was long and extremely difficult.
Most of those that did end up passing the rituals and tasks ended up joining the society, many becoming the best members of the society deterring more and more people on the road back to grace, after all, their path had been extremely difficult and they weren’t going to let others get their serve of grace easily.
Soon this society would hold weekly celebrations on how successful they had been in deterring people on the road, together they would jump about, clap their hands and sing songs as they retold their stories of how they deterred people on the road and celebrate how their methods had brought them new recruits.
When Theodore was born we were sent home with a package for new parents, in it was a dvd on water safety and introducing your child to water. The dvd helpfully goes through a number of different ways to make your house child safe when it comes to areas of water and also how to introduce your child to having it’s head underwater and swimming. It’s a simple, well structured instructional on how to be water safe and aware with a new child.
I write this because, as a new parent I’m more than aware that drowning in water is a major fear factor, and dvds & programs like this encourage me to respect that fear and to find ways to still encourage my child to swim.
Swimming is a huge part of the Australian lifestyle, my wife’s parents have a pool out the back of their house and she loves the water, my family’s regular holiday spot was on the beach. We are a nation surrounded by water, our borders are not made across deserts and sand but by ocean.
All the way through the year, and boosted over summer we are surrounded by tv adverts, poster campaigns, school programs all designed to help us be more aware of water safety. We are reminded that all pools need fences, all children should not be left alone around water, all children need to participate in a learning to swim program…
As such I can’t help but wonder if our natural, national fear/respect for water has been used in order to redirect our guilt, our responsibilities towards those who seek our protection by boat.
When discussing issues around refugees and asylum seekers the conversation seems to regularly get to the point where one person or another raises the “but there are so many people/children dying at sea, surely we need to stop that?” or “Why would a parent ever risk the life of their family or children by risking drowning?” (a side note to this, for the people who STILL bring up the “Children Overboard” story IT WAS A LIE)
We simply cannot think of anything worse than a water-related death for our loved ones, or for anyone else.
We cannot ever imagine a time or place where escape is the only real option, where the risk of the water or of anything that goes with it is a better option than anything else.
And this is where our fears and guilt are redirected. In the same way that we cannot imagine any fate worse than death at sea, (especially for children) we believe that almost any deterrent put in place to discourage getting on a boat is worthwhile. We also tend to lean towards deterrents that resemble punishment, boat turn backs and indefinite detention are seen as worthwhile and worthy attempts to deter people dying at sea.
And so we feel less guilty over detaining children and families, adults and the elderly in Nauru or Manus if it’s in the noble cause of stopping deaths at sea. Anything that happens in any of our detention centres, or as we turn boats back at sea is worth it if it causes less deaths in the ocean and we’re prepared to live with it whether it be sexual assault, maltreatment, withholding of human rights, abuse, depression, assault, midnight transfers of children and families or indefinite detainment.
Now, I’m not saying that the deaths at sea are not a tragedy, they are, but we need to be reminded that our policies have not stopped deaths at sea. It is suggested that 550 still died at sea during 2014 while the UNHCR reports that 54,000 people undertook sea crossings in the Southeast Asian region during the same time.
What I am suggesting is that our level of guilt, anger and unrest over our treatment of people seeking our protection is hidden/disguised/appeased behind the veil of our fear of death in water.
Don’t think that our politicians aren’t aware of our rational/irrational fear of drowning, don’t be so naive to think they aren’t using it to their own measures.
Perhaps it’s time that we stop allowing our fear of water to take precedence over our upholding of human rights and participating in the care of those seeking our protection and care.
Unfortunately a database update and my combining three blogs into one has lead to a few minor linking problems.
Regular service will return within the week
Then I’ll be making a few changes to what and how I write here…
Themes: Christmas, Advent, Animals, Nativity, Gift, Present, Remembering, Community
The narrative of the nativity has been told and retold in a number of ways over the years. Together, Penny and Stephen create a new and beautiful re-telling where the animals of the world maintain the act of remembering, and in doing so create a space for something magical.
In a different slant to many of the Nativity stories out there the animals take on the act of remember the story of a baby born in a stable. The Owl tells the story of the star that shone so brightly, the Nanny Goat speaks of the sleepless night all the animals endured as they awaited something wonderful to happen while the donkey remembers that it was one of his kind that carried the mother of the child to the stable and the cows speak of how they gave the mother and father milk to drink.
The animals are both the actors and the storyteller in this whimsically illustrated book that has quickly made a huge jump up my list of favourite Christmas books. I cannot think of any illustrator that I’d invite to paint the Christmas story other than Stephen Michael King, he continues to bring colour and life to a tale that may seem old, this is the third book I own where he adds his imagination to the tale told from house to house over Christmas.
May there be many more…
I really like the idea of story stones, so when I was thinking about Christmas crafts last year the idea came to me that I could create my own nativity stones. Nativity stones would allow people to carry the nativity story with them, they’d be a great story telling device and kids could have a lot of fun creating them and using them to retell the story.
Questions like “who is your favourite character in the Christmas story?” “Is there anyone that we could remove from the story and still have all that we need?” “What’s your favourite part of the Christmas story?” can be asked as you play with the stones and tell each other the story.
To create the Nativity stones you will need:
- Mod Podge (Matt or Gloss)
- Smooth Stones (use normal river stones or coloured decorative stones)
- Cotton bag for the story stones.
- Printout of images (here are three suggestions)
Wipe the stones clean with a dry cloth. If you do need to use liquid allow for time for the stones to dry off properly.
Cut out all the images from the printable nativity you’ve chosen.
Brush the stone with a thin layer of Mod Podge.
Place the nativity character onto the stone, lightly brush over the image to get rid of air bubbles and raised areas.
As the stone dries apply another layer or two of Mod Podge to seal the image onto the stone, the Mod Podge will dry clear.
Place the stones in a cotton bag for easy carrying and give as a gift.
Yes… it’s that easy…
I’m in the process of cleaning my library so as to make room for a nursery.
The sacrifices we make eh?
So, I’ve got a number of “Doubles” that I’m willing to mail to people if they’d like a copy and live in Australia.
The catch is I expect a review of the book, 200 words or more so I can put up on this website.
I’ve done this type of thing before and people have been slack to respond with their reviews, so if you’re asking for a copy please please PLEASe take it upon yourself to have read the book and emailed me a review within a month of receiving the book. Or bad things will start happening.
If you’d like more than one book I’m happy to send you the first two and the other books upon receipt of the book review.
I’m afraid it’s 1st in 1st served so jump on in and give me a holler if any of the book titles take your fancy.
The book list includes:
- Mentoring Matters by Rick Lewis
- The Rock Cries Out by Steve Stockman
- Friending by Lynne M Baab
- Noah Barleywater Runs Away by John Boyne
- 7 Ways To Change the World by Jim Wallis
- The New Conspirators by Tom sine (Have 3 copies of this)
- The Crown & the Fire by Tom Wright
- The Relational Pastor by Andrew Root
- The Godbearing Life by Kenda Creasy Dean & Ron Foster
- OMG A Youth Ministry Handbook by Kenda Creasy Dean
- Engage! How the Church Can Reconnect With Young People By Matt Brain
- The theological Turn In Youth Ministry by Andrew Root & Kenda Creasy Dean
- UnChristian by David Kinnaman
- Michael Frost – Exilio (book, Leaders Guide & dvd)
- Brian Mclaren – Everything Must Change
- 4 book series by Andrew Root (will keep this series together)
Heart, Soul, Mind Strength – 50 Creative Worship Ideas by Jenny Baker Finding Our Way Again, The return of Ancient Spiritual Practices by Brian Mclaren The Shape of Things to Come by Michael Frost & Alan Hirsch What Would Jesus Deconstruct? By James K.A. Smith What We Talk About When We Talk About God by Rob Bell The Spirit and Culture of Youth Ministry by Roland Martinson, Wez Black, John Roberto
I’m running a workshop on technology and worship for a few lay leaders this coming weekend. As a part of the gig we’ll be talking about putting together presentations for worship, in particular song lyrics, sermons and readings. What follows is a collection of tips that I’ll be using for the gig, I’ll be putting a few images together to go with the tips and a simpler handout, when I’ve put them together I’ll upload them and add them to this post.
a) Sing the song
Sing the song or read the text through before you put it to the file. This will help you understand where to put line and paragraph breaks, notice where you pause, where you breathe and where the punctuation breaks are, allow this to guide you in putting the presentation together.
Punctuation is not always needed. When singing a song the punctuation is up to your preference, many people intuitively create line or paragraph breaks where punctuation would normally cause a pause or break.
b) Give the text breathing room
More than 5 lines per screen will make the presentation look busy, you’ll find it will be more effective if you spread out the text across several screens rather than cramming them all into one. Give the text breathing room and keep the line limit to a maximum of 4-5 lines per screen.
Break the lines manually, don’t use word wrap, try and avoid “orphan words,” words that take up a line by
can you resize the text a little, or perhaps break the paragraph up differently to avoid the lone word?
I generally allow for a line spacing of 1.2 or 1.3 when creating on-screen presentations, this allows for some space between lines but not enough space to disconnect each of the lines as you read them.
Keep the text to a readable font-size, experiment and decide what’s too large and too small and sit somewhere in between, try somewhere between 32 and 48 points. If you’re in doubt find the youngest and oldest members of your congregation and sit them at the rear of the venue and show them different size text until they can both read them, that should give you a good guide.
d) To Boldly Go
Avoid using CAPS LOCK. CAPS LOCK IN AN EMAIL OR ON SCREEN GIVES PEOPLE THE IMPRESSION THAT THEY ARE BEING YELLED AT, it also hinders people’s ability to read clearly on screen.
Making the text bold in songs may make reading the text easier, give it a try and see how it works with your projector in your space. Making the responsive text bold in responsive prayers and perhaps a different colour can help people distinguish between the leader’s words and the responsive section.
It’s also a helpful rule to avoid using either italic or underlining text when projecting on a screen, use italics at a last resort.
e) Align left.
There’s a lot of debate as to if you should align left or centre.
One of the theories is that if you align left it will make reading the text easier for people who have english as a second language, older people and younger people learning to read. Left aligned gives the reader the same starting point at the left of the screen for every line. As a result I suggest aligning left for reasons of literacy rather than design.
If you do choose to align centre then consistency is important, if you choose to align centre for one song during the presentation / service then stick to that as the “norm” for the presentation.
f) Fonts / Typography
There are two main kinds of font: Serif and Sans-Serif.
Serif Font – Fonts with “feet” (Times New Roman, Minion Pro, Baskerville, Georgia, Times)
Serif fonts are usually used in books and, on screen can be used for titles of songs or header titles. As they’re older fonts they carry with them (still) a more authoritative meaning, associated with being elegant, formal, confident.
San-Serif Font – Fonts without “feet” (Arial, Myriad Pro, Helvetica, Lucida Grande, Century Gothic, Gill Sans Bold, Verdana)
Sans in french means “without” so Sans-Serif fonts are fonts without the feet. San-Serif fonts are easier to read on screen and are best used for text that will be read from the screen, use these types of fonts for lyrics, bible readings or text.
While Serif fonts work really well on print, guiding the reader from one word to the next this doesn’t translate to on-screen or projected text. Practically Serif fonts weren’t used on screens due to the fonts not showing up well on computer screens or projectors with many being too thin to read and flickering on the screen, comparatively the San-Serif font was easier to read on computer screens and projector screens. It’s true that while screens and projectors are getting sharper one could argue that these rules do not apply, but I still think it’s good to stick to the old guideline.
Once again, consistency is recommended. Choose three fonts per presentation (per service) and stick with them. If you decide to be consistent in all your presentations then it makes it easier for you to create a template to which you can stick to.
Note that fonts aren’t necessarily on every computer. If you set the presentation up on your own computer using a particular font make sure that the computer you’re using at church also has that font.
*Avoid using the font “Comic Sans” seriously… if you use it you should stop.
It’s a good rule to use light text on dark background.
If you’re using older projectors or if there is a lot of ambient light in the room then try using dark text on a white background.
Some forms of dyslexia are apparently set off by bright backgrounds vs dark text. Be aware that your congregation may experience your presentations differently due to a variety of issues, as such many congregations tend to use bright text on a dark background.
It’s a good thing to also be aware that colours convey meaning, blue traditionally has meant cold/calm while red has meant passionate/angry/warm.
Keep people who are colourblind in mind (which means avoid combinations of reds, greens, browns, oranges and yellows).
Avoid these combinations
- red and black
- green and purple
- light green and yellow
- red and green
- orange and blue
- red and blue
- orange and pink
- brown and grey
- black and white / off white
- black and very light grey / off white
- dark purple and white / off white
- dark blue and white / off white
- black and yellow
- dark blue and yellow
h) Simple is Good – Less is more
Keep presentations simple.
Normal design principles suggest to choose three fonts per presentation, adding many different fonts can cause reading issues with some participants and distract participants. Try choosing one font for headlines, one for normal text and another for the CCLI information. Many churches have made the decision to stick with the same fonts for every song to maintain consistency.
Just because you can create different creative transitions doesn’t mean that you need to, or that you should. Transitions take time, create compatibility issues between computers/programs and cause difficulty in reading text or taking in images. If you use transitions during songs, even a quick fade some people will miss the first line of the verse/chorus because of the time the transition takes to happen.
Remember the focus point is the story, text or the image and not the transition.
i) Using Images / Motion Backgrounds
If you’re using images or motion backgrounds in your worship presentations there are a number of things to consider.
- Images and videos may not have a colour scheme that suits showing text over, remember light over dark or dark over light, this becomes difficult when you’re using images or video.
- Keep images to theme, if you’re talking about the different parts of the body then use images of hands, feet, faces. If your theme is on eating food together then use images of food.
- Use one image per screen, avoid cramming 5 images onto one page of lyrics, it’ll distract people from the lyrics at hand. During one song consider using the same image for every screen.
- If you’re using a motion background ensure it’s not too busy or fast moving as they can distract readers. Some examples of motion backgrounds can be sourced from http://faithinmotion.com.au
- Images translate story, meaning & emotion better than text, use full screen high resolution images during sermons or talks instead of dot points and more text.
j) Copyright Information
Remember to put the appropriate copyright information on your music slides. In this case you can use a different font, colour and size so that the text doesn’t confuse people who are singing the song. Consider putting the copyright text left aligned from the centre of the page.
The information that needs to be shown includes:
The song title
Copyright notice, and
Your church’s CCLI license number
In the case of using images/videos, use photos you have taken or sourced through legal means. You can use free stock image sources (eg http://www.freeimages.com or https://www.flickr.com/groups/2196348@N20/ ) or purchase stock images from stock image sites (eg. http://www.istockphoto.com )
k) Sit through your presentation
Sit through some of your presentations from different points in the worship space, ask yourself what makes the text easier to see, what makes the image clearer, can you read the text well from all points of view, does the light in the room affect the way that you can see the screen?
Perhaps you can sit through a few presentations with different layouts with a group of people and ask the same questions.
After sitting through your presentations go back to the computer and make alterations that may make it easier to enter into worship or into your presentation.