There was a time in the Church when pretty much anything projected during a service was considered progressive and beneficial, but that’s simply not the case anymore. In 2013, we’re a more visual, media-driven people than ever before. Media is everywhere and therefore average Joe’s now have standards. The common man may not be able to put into words what right looks like, but he can sure tell you when something looks wrong. And sloppy, unprofessional, or just plain ugly aren’t exactly the ways that you want people describing your church. This brings an interesting challenge to those of us who have taken on the task of leading people in “visual worship.”

In the same way that it would be painfully obvious to your congregation if your pianist, guitarist, or singers walked onto the stage unprepared, people are going to notice when you haven’t done your part, too. There is an art to playing music that is not only friendly to the ear, but that truly leads people into worship. It requires practice. It requires prayer. Church media is so much more than tapping a spacebar on Sunday morning. You have the opportunity to capture the imagination of a crowd and point their attention towards Christ. Imagery should be beautiful. Information should be clear. And it should all work in harmony with the other elements of the service to communicate one message.

Here are three critical things that I would challenge you to make time in your week to do before you ever touch the mouse on Sunday morning.

1. Learn the Songs

It’s a must that you familiarize yourself with the lyrics and arrangements for the worship sets on Sundays. This can be as simple as taking a few trips to YouTube throughout the week or making a Spotify playlist for your ride to work. Communicate with your worship leader so that you know exactly where they’re going. Make a point to attend worship team practices as often as possible. You’ve got an entire crowd of people depending on your lyrics – they’re worth your time to get them right. When you’re confident with the songs, you’ll be able to actually enjoy your time in worship, too.

2. Plan Your Media Beforehand

When you wait to the last minute to start choosing backgrounds, countdowns, and splash screens, you’re laying down a welcome mat for mediocrity. Invest some time in choosing your content before Sunday morning. Make sure that your colors and themes are a good fit for the current season, the worship setlist, and the pastor’s message for the day. Find backgrounds that compliment each other and create an consistent atmosphere during your time of worship. Rather than running media on the fly, make a clean playlist in your presentation software and assign backgrounds to individual songs.

3. Pray for the Service

Never underestimate the power of prayer. Ask God to use you in the service to do more than simply project lyrics, but to create a distraction-free environment of life-change. Ask the Holy Spirit to guide you and keep your clicks graceful. Pray that you’ll keep a heart of service and an attitude that inspires others to do the same. Ask for quick recovery from glitches, bugs, and butterfingers – because they will come. Tell Him that all of your preparation, hard-work, and labor is for His honor and for His name to be lifted up. Mean it.

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