5 Media Recommendations for Churches with under 1,000 in Weekly Attendance
Last week I had the privilege of attending a church denominational convention with church leaders and representatives from several hundred churches. I also had a great time teaching a workshop and working with several other churches in the area I was in. Most of these churches had an average weekly attendance of about 1,000 people or less.
As I observed these churches, I noticed several were struggling with some of the same issues or needed to upgrade their gear in the same areas.
With that in mind, here are 5 quick media recommendations for churches with an average weekly attendance of less than 1,000:
1. Consider using high-quality Video Elements for your screens.
I know you’re first concern is fitting this into your budget. Over the last few years, technology and software for media producers has become so affordable that there have been a flood of creatives join the space. Resources like our online store
have made pre-produced content incredibly cheap. You could easily purchase a collection of coordinating media content and a mini-movie for under $50.
Look at your budget. Are there things you are spending money on in other places that could be going to enhance your Sunday worship experience? Remember, your worship service is your main event, it’s where the most people from your church gather at once. Are you spending money on magazine subscriptions, devotionals, or Sunday school material that few people read? Are you spending money on flowers or decorations that few people even notice? I’m not saying those things are bad, my point is – are you investing money in things they may only affect a few or could you invest it on content that could impact the most people at once?
One more thing I should mention here- you may have a well-meaning volunteer designing slides, graphics, or even videos for you. Let me ask you this- if you had a clogged toilet that you couldn’t fix, would you grab a volunteer that knew nothing about plumbing to fix your problem just to save some cash? Absolutely not. You’d hire a pro, someone who knew what they were doing and had experience so your problem didn’t get worse. Spend the money to purchase high-quality media content or have a Graphic Designer, Motion Designer or Video Editor produce your content. It will be well worth your investment.
2. Transition to Using ProPresenter on Mac as soon as you can.
Sure you can get by with a free or cheap presentation software solution. Or even a cheap computer. But you’ll spend more money in the long run trying to fix your computer or make your presentation software do things it can’t do.
I’ve debated whether to suggest cheaper solutions, but after workshops and trainings where we spend more time fighting a PC than learning and after years of using both myself, I can with confidence tell you that ProPresenter on Mac is definitely the solution I would spend my money on if I were you.
You can purchase an iMac for under $1500.
You can purchase a single House of Worship license for ProPresenter for under $500.
For under $2,000, you’ll transform the productivity and execution of your worship experiences. If that’s not in your budget, do a fundraiser. Seriously- do a Production Bake Sale, Car Wash, Yard Sale, Love Offering. This is the gear you need. Take initiative and make it happen!
3. Consider the following quick tips when executing your lyrics or worship slides and media content.
1. Limit your lines of lyrics to 2 to 3 lines, 4 lines at the most for a hanging word or phrase. Never go more than this.
2. Be consistent with your fonts and font size. Choose one font for all your lyrics for the whole day. Choose a font size that is readable but doesn’t overwhelm your screen. (Check out my article “5 Go-To Fonts for Worship Lyrics” for more on this topic.)
3. Choose Non-Cheesy Motion Backgrounds. Cheesy clipart or rainbow backgrounds are not only just poor design, it distracts your congregation from worshipping.
4. Lead lyrics! I can’t stress this enough. Nothing is worse than being late on lyrics. It halts the worship of your people. We’ve all been there – you’re singing along and you’re 2 lines into the next slide before the operator advances to the next slide of lyrics. A good rule of thumb for leading lyrics is to advance to the next slide when your worship leader sings the next to last word on the slide.
5. Never let your audience see what’s going on “behind the scenes”. You never want to see a cursor, a desktop background, another program, or anything else on your screens besides media content from your presentation software.
6. No Repeat Lines or “Hymnal directions”. If you sing one line repeatedly, it should be on one slide and the slide should be duplicated in your presentation software.
7. Set up your presentation software in the order of the service. You should primarily be using the spacebar to advance your way through your media content. You should only use your cursor to catch a worship leader on a rogue lyric or to fire a video element.
8. Gently encourage your leaders to not make any last minute changes. In my experience, very last minute changes affect the concentration of the team and can throw your execution game off. Train your leaders that your service starts when the counter drops and set guidelines to when is too late to add content to your presentation.
4. Plan ahead!
A full run-through of your service is preferred, but if that is not possible in your church, at least work with your pastor and staff team to walk through the content of your service. Everyone should have at least briefly communicated with each other before the service begins. Work out as many details as you can before the service begins.
From a teamwork perspective, there is nothing worse than the pastor or leaders on stage having a conversation with the tech volunteers during the middle of your worship service in front of the congregation. “Mr. Tech Guy, can you put that slide up for me? No, no, not that slide, the other one. No, not that one…”. Work as a team even before the service starts. There needs to be a little “Wizard of Oz, no one sees what’s going on behind the curtain” during your service – most of the time your production team is executing at its best when no one notices them. Set them up well. Pastors- don’t wait until the last minute to get your content together and then throw the Production Team under the bus because you have the mic. Work together to get all lyrics, announcements, scriptures, etc. into your presentation software during the week so you are prepared and ready going into Sunday.
5. Raise Up Leaders!
Production isn’t your ministry. It’s the Lord’s and the churches. It doesn’t belong to you. Your job is to steward it well. If you’ve read any of my previous articles on this site, you know that I am super passionate about raising up leaders and creating processes for massive growth. If you’re not raising people up to serve and giving people opportunities to use their gifts, you’re not really leading anything. I’ve met several volunteers in smaller churches that they are sometimes the only ones at their audio console on a Sunday morning. The only one! And they serve every Sunday juggling audio, video, lighting, staging…everything. I know that this person is dedicated. I know that this person is there every time the doors are open. But it’s not healthy. It’s not healthy for volunteers to never actually sit and attend a worship service. It’s not healthy for the church to only have a couple of people that can execute media elements on a Sunday.
If you’re a church of under 1,000 in weekly attendance, depending on the positions and needs you have, you should have at least 10-20 people serving in Production. And let me bust the stigma that you have to be a nerd or introvert to serve in Production. It’s simply not true. When I served as the Video Coordinator for Newspring Church, we had over 120 people regularly serve on a team in Production. There were all kinds of professions represented – lawyers, doctors, college students, small business owners, and tons more. If you were willing, teachable and wanted to help us create experiences where people could meet Jesus and grow with Him, I’d take you! Mentor, disciple, coach, serve…raise up leaders! Leave a legacy so that when God calls you somewhere else the ministry continues and is more effective because of your leadership.
So there you have it. My 5 Media Recommendations for churches with under 1,000 in weekly attendance. Of course, if you serve at a larger church, these principles can apply to you as well, but I’ve been observing these same struggles in more rural churches.
What other recommendations do you have for churches of this size?
Creative Director / Owner
[twelve:thirty]media | Columbia, SC
Carl Barnhill has served on staff at some of the largest churches and organizations in the country. He served as Media Director at Precept Ministries International, directing the television and radio program Precepts for Life with Kay Arthur, broadcasted to over 98 million homes around the world. He served as Video Production Director at Pinelake Church in Brandon, MS, where he produced media content for four campuses, as well as led volunteer teams.
He most recently served as Video Coordinator for Newspring Church in South Carolina. Newspring has 10 campuses across the state with a weekly attendance of over 35,000. At one campus alone, the number of consistent volunteers serving in media production tripled, under his leadership.
He currently serves as Creative Director and Owner of [twelve:thirty]media, a company that serves churches and ministries all over the world through motion graphics content and church media coaching.