TRANSITIONS: One of the Secrets to a great Worship Service.
Transitions are one of the most under-planned and over looked pieces of worship services.
What is a transition in your worship service?
A transition is how one element of your worship service flows into the next. For example, how does your countdown flow into your first song? How does each song flow into each other? How does a song flow into a video element?
I used to manage a radio station years ago. In radio, the one thing you don’t want is “dead air”. It makes the listener know something is off in the studio. They may be forgiving for a few seconds, but if there is dead air for too long, they tune out or tune off. The same is true for transitions in your service – a bad transition is like “dead air”. If after each element, your on-stage leaders don’t know what’s coming next, or there are major lulls between elements in your service flow, eventually it gets kinda old to your congregation. They start tuning out or tuning off – you’ve lost their attention.
Here are 3 tips for helping you have better transitions in your worship service:
1. Think through Transitions.
Spend time during the week carefully looking at every element of your service. Think through how each element connects to the next element. Write it down even – “as we sing this line in Song X, Pastor John needs to be making his way to the stage”, “when I say ‘Amen’, we need to hit this lighting cue and Audio needs to go to this snapshot to prepare for the next song”.
If you have a Service Producer on staff, this is their role, but if you are in a church with a smaller staff, you as the Media Director should step up and lead this charge. You’ll want to have a service planning meeting each week to talk through every element and every transition. So to prepare for this meeting, spend some time yourself thinking through how things are going to flow so you have talking points or questions for your meeting. Which leads me to…
2. Talk through Transitions.
Once you have your service flow or order of service in place, spend some time during the week talking through how each element of your service will transition to the next. All your key people should be included in these discussions – your worship leader, pastor, welcomer, any other on-stage leaders, representatives from audio, lighting, video and any other key people that will be responsible for the execution of your service.
It’s literally good to talk through every transition. Here’s some questions to consider-
-What time in the countdown is the band going out on-stage?
-What are the first things that need to happen when the countdown hits 0:00? (Who in the band is playing and where are they located? What camera shots do you need to start with? What’s your first lighting cue going to look like? How is the audio going to transition?)
-What does the transition look like between the first song into your Church Announcement Video? (How does the band end the song? What does the lighting need to look like? Is the house going full black? How much breathing room do you leave between the house going black and firing the video?)
-How does the video end? Where in the video should your welcomer start coming to the stage?
You get the idea here. Talk through these things with your team. Make a good plan. Make sure everyone is in the loop.
3. Train for Transitions.
Rehearse and practice your service. Do you have a Run-Thru of your service for your Band and Production Teams on Sundays? You should. Even in small churches with only one service, a 20 minute meeting to walk through the elements of your service, check batteries and microphones, walk through audio cues, lighting cues, test video elements, etc. will help you in executing your service.
I recommend also to not jump around or cut too many things short. As much as you possibly can, run an entire service, top to bottom, with no congregation in the room. Run your countdown, run all your songs, run your videos all the way through, run through every point, scripture or element your pastor is going to use. There have been times when I thought a video was good to go and there was something in the middle or at the end of it that was wrong – I didn’t see it before service because I skimmed through it in rehearsal. Plan time to rehearse as much as you can.
Transitions are a key element to any worship experience. The more you can think through them, talk through them and train for them, the better your experience will be. How do you plan for transitions in your worship service?
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.