Ten years ago when I finished my Doctor of Ministry Dissertation,Using Multimedia in Expository Preaching, many churches already used projection systems even back then to display song lyrics, announcements, photo slide shows of church activities and for preaching with PowerPoint. In 2015 the projector and screen shows up in most church worship spaces, even in churches that still call them a “sanctuary.”
As someone whose preached for over ten years using multimedia to display outlines, illustrations and Bible verses, let me share 5 tips for preaching with PowerPoint to help pastors and multimedia teams communicate God’s work in a powerful, interesting and even entertaining way.
Stop Preaching with PowerPoint
Confession time! I used the term PowerPoint in the title of this article as a generic word. When a person needs to wipe their nose they ask for a Kleenex, even though we don’t necessary want one branded Kleenex. A tissue is a Kleenex to most people even if it’s from another brand.
Using a multimedia presentation too is using “PowerPoint” even though we may not use Microsoft’s presentation program.
Preachers should stop preaching with PowerPoint, Keynote or any other of the PowerPoint alternatives. Instead invest in a great church presentation or worship presentation program.
At my church we use MediaShout. It’s powerful and with that power comes some complexity. However, it does a great job of displaying lyrics, pictures, video and Bible verses.
Other worship presentation software programs include the following:
We won’t make recommendations as to which one you should buy. Instead, check your budget and the features against the following list. If a worship software program doesn’t include the following features, then don’t get it.
Display lyrics, Bible verses, and text
Import PowerPoint files since guest speakers usually show up with a flash drive with a PowerPoint presentation
Show video files, DVDs and if possible YouTube videos from within the program
Edit slides, including the program’s content like Bible verses and lyrics
Loop pre-service slides for announcements
Background editing so you can display video, images and solid colors
In addition to the above features, many programs will also let the user edit their presentation on their home or office computer and sync it to the sanctuary computer. Some run on both PC and Mac. A few offer remote control apps that run on an iPhone, Android phone, iPad or tablet.
These make creating worship presentations so much easier than PowerPoint. Also, they force the user to avoid the ugly PowerPoint themes and templates. Most worship attendees can spot an ugly PowerPoint template quickly and these templates turn people off. People see so many bad PowerPoint presentations that this distracts them from worship instead of enhancing it.
If you must use PowerPoint, invest in a good worship plug-in. I know of two. MediaShout Bridge (see above) turns PowerPoint into a simple form of MediaShout within PowerPoint with lyric and Bible verse import. It also inserts multimedia easily.
Another PowerPoint plugin comes from the folks at ShareFaith (see video above). Their ShareFaith Presenter comes free for those who subscribe to the service, which includes a library of media to download and use in worship like backgrounds, stock photos, PowerPoint themes or templates, and
Don’t Show Your Full Outline
Too many preachers ask their churches to install an expensive projection system, computer and they might even install one of the great worship presentation programs listed above. Then the preacher loads up their outline on slides and displays these outlines with lots of text that looks like the slide above instead of like the one below.
Here’s a few rules to follow:
Never shore more than 10 words per slide
Use meaningful phrases of 5-10 words at most
Leave off the Roman Numerals or any other numbered or lettered lists
Include a picture on each slide that illustrates the idea
Only show one idea or sermon point per slide
Long sentences and numbered outlines look boring. A single screen with one sermon point or idea per screen focuses hearers on the current idea. Use a photo to illustrate the idea when possible.
Where do we get these photos?
Start by searching Google using Google’s image search and their creative commons filter. Here’s how to do it. Head over to their image search site. Enter the idea to search. For example, if I’m illustrating a point that says “God honors humble servants” then you could search for awards, medals or trophies to focus on the idea of honoring. Or search the word humble. Once the search shows the results, click on Search tools just below the search box at the right end.
A new toolbar appears just above the search results. Filter the search using the Usage rights drop down. Pick one of the last two items on the list. The first one reads, Labelled for noncommercial reuse with modification or Labelled for noncommercial reuse. Pick the former if you plan to change it or edit it in some way. Pick the latter if you don’t. Make sure to put attribution on the slide somewhere. It doesn’t need to be very big. Put it in small font in the button corner with a link to the site where you found the image.
Use one of the other filter drop downs to filter images by size, color and more. I always pick the size filter choosing pictures that are larger than 1024×768.
Look for pictures at a few other sources, like Wikipedia or Flickr. In both cases, look for creative commons licensed photos and give credit on the slide. See the above slide with trophies. Notice the link in the lower right corner.
A third place to find pictures is subscription or pay services like ShareFaith or Getty Images. You’ll find a better quality of images, but also a more limited selection and they’ll cost some money. ShareFaith charges a subscription while Getty lets users buy credits to use to download images.
Finally, when you do use text, proofread it. Look at the terrible pure text slide at the beginning of this section above. It’s got a couple of typos. Can you find them?
Part 2 of Tips for Preaching with PowerPoint Coming Soon …
The next post will come soon, with more of our 5 tips. Can you guess what the other three will say? Comment below and tell me what your tips include.
Dr. Kevin Purcell is pastor of High Peak Baptist Church, an author and writer at Church Tech Today (www.churchtechtoday.com). He used to write for a number of other Christian and secular technology and mobile tech sites. Now he's one of the hosts of the Theotek Podcast, which you can find by checking the menu above or over at www.facebook.com/theotekpodcast.