I am probably showing my age even by using the term "look like" (it's so 90's); but our church has a new pastor who wants to upgrade the contemporary-ness of our contemporary service (we also have a "traditional" service which will get some freshening up). 

We've been here two years, following a longer tenure by a young man who got the contemporary service going.  We've got a good group of gentle people who express themselves gently; but we manage to do the "contemporary" things (or the "rural/southern" things) like clapping, occasionally raising a hand and even five seconds of praise-shouting after a particularly powerful song.  We're Pentecostal, but we see no need to force these people to be something they aren't; but they do appreciate a powerful "experience" while worship God through music.

We're forming a music committee, to more easily share ideas, even planning out worship services in the future.  In the past, I've been accustomed to extended worship which includes personal prayer, dancing, flags and banners, stopping for a mini-sermon, altar call, and so on.  I found much good in those things (except for the occasional "spiritual hijacking" by an overenthusiastic individual); but I really don't know what directions we might want to go in this new committee adventure.

They, of course, will bring in their own ideas.  But I'm curious as to what a spectrum of various churches, in contemporary-style worship, are doing, other than just putting up songs on a screen and singing (or is that all we should be doing?)  What do some of your services, either normal ones or the "special" ones, look like these days, ad what value do you find in this appearance?

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Mountains in Suffolk - a nice idea!

Sounds good though, Joe.

No mountains I'm afraid! East Anglia is known more for its fields than its mountains. I expect these pictures are from the preset SongPro selection although if someone was being proactive some local wheat fields would be nice...it's good you take pictures locally, does anyone comment about this after the service? It would be interesting if people notice the background picture. I led at a conference recently and had to get used to being on the background myself from the live video feed, I'm not sure I liked it, in fact I definitely didn't!

The people seem to like my pictures; I leave an "exit" slide for each one that doesn't have words, and the video operator often puts them on during the sermon, if their mood or subject underscores the message, or simply looks good.  We're near the sea, and I have all sorts of ocean scenes in good weather and foul.  Sometimes I have the youth group praising the Lord, or (nepotism) our grandkids; or things like a squirrel looking out at me from a knothole ("Who am I, that You are thinking of me?"...(Friend of God).  I have a whole sequence for Friend of God, too, that has a tent caterpillar making its way around a planter.  In Our God's "who can be against us" sequence I insert a slide with a bullet hole in a glass window (an insane person shot our police chief and almost killed our pastor, so locals know what the picture is about).  

I've never put myself on the screen.  Same weird feeling about it.

Our new pastor is getting us Media Shout, and it's likely that I'll be delving into their resources for awhile. 

My main concern with the words has always been, are they the same as what we sing and is the words projector person able to follow the song through well so that the words are up in time for people to sing. Words on a plain background is usually my preference so you've opened my eyes to a whole new area of thinking. I guess in the past people have used the presets available and I've found that these do nothing to enhance the 'worship experience' (sorry, I'm using the phrase now!). I can see already that some carefully selected visuals could have a significant impact, perhaps even more so in a song that everyone knows really well which sometimes can be sung without really registering what the song is saying (as it is so familiar). I often try different arrangements (we used a U2 riff for the start of Praise him you heavens which freshened up the song) but some different visuals may also work...thinking cap on...

Joe - I've used local photos as backgrounds sometimes, but these days I'm heading toward semi-abstract patterns and colours. Local scenes or great images can really draw attention and start people focussing on where the shot was taken or the image itself instead of on worship. Also photo-sequences are, for me, an absolute no-no because they are so fracturing and distracting. They can be aesthetically pleasing, but draw focus away and make me think of pop videos.

We're all different in what we like though.....

I can see the potential for distraction, I am always distracted at big conferences when trying to see the words and they are using the worship leaders massive head in the background (a close up of the worship leaders head, not that worship leaders have massive heads, unless perhaps you include ego!)

Toni & Joe - points well taken.  For me, the hardest part of making easy-to-read, good-looking slides is finding material that amplifies, rather than distracts from the text.  Once I have committed to one slide for a song, I really have to continue to concept for all of them...  I do remember at my old church, a waterfall sequence that moved around the forest, and I found myself trying to find the seam at the start of the sequence (just like during a long sermon I discovered one of our abstract stained-glass panels was upside down!  "Le Bateau" all over!).  It really was easier in the "good old days" when we just took out a transparency sheet and a chisel-tipped indelible marker, did the songs in calligraphy and decorated them with butterflies and rainbows.

I confess that, during our visit to Zimbabwe in the spring, I loved the songs being on OHP with a plain white background and no images or animations. And you could see all the verses in the song without anyone worrying about which words were up next, even if the band decided to change things up. There is a lot to be said for simple.

This is the church we visited this morning. They meet in a school and I believe this would be termed as 'cafe church'. Coffee and cake available throughout the service...what I call caffeinated Christianity!

Acts 2:47 in action, bro!

Looks good, Joe. I miss the days of meeting in a school, when there was no building to worry about and the politics of who could use it, when, why, and the material stuff to be discussed to death.


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