Archives for posts with tag: songs

I’m a Mac guy. I own all sorts of Apple products.

I will admit right now that I am severely caught up in the “coolness” of exclusively purchasing Apple products. There is something affirming about sitting at a table at a coffee shop with an over-priced cup of ethically-traded, shade-grown coffee and opening up my laptop so that the soft glow of the Apple logo bursts forth from the brushed silver casing of my MacBook Pro.

With that said, I want to share my opinion on something.

Over the years I have used a variety of different technologies to display words at a church. When I was a kid I changed transparencies on the overhead projector that shown on the white walls inside our sanctuary. I’ve used Powerpoint. I’ve used SongShow. I’ve used MediaShout once or twice.

I have never used a program that had an interface that worked quite as well as ProPresenter loaded on an Apple computer.

At the church I used to work at I purchased an iMac loaded with ProPresenter. For years we had used a PC running SongShow. That method worked well, but there was a pretty long learning curve for volunteers running the software. I would make a volunteer do at least 3 “practice runs” with SongShow before I let them use it on Sunday morning.

With ProPresenter I can give someone a 3 minute tutorial on Sunday morning before a service and trust them to do a decent job of running the slides.

It’s just a lot easier to navigate in a live setting.

Take it or leave it.

If you have been to a church that follows the seeker model, you have probably heard a secular song covered in a worship service. The first time I heard this was when I visited a local church on a Sunday morning that I was off work. The band opened the worship set with “Living on a Prayer”. They played the song quite well. However, I couldn’t help but feel a bit uncomfortable.

I think that covering secular songs is a bad idea.

Let me clarify. I don’t think it’s a sin. I’m not going to tell you that the church is a place for God’s music and that you should leave the devil’s music on the radio where it belongs.

I just think it’s awkward.

Its like when a Christian curses. It seems so forced. It seems like the entire purpose behind it is to make a point. It screams: “We are so cool and accepting that we will play the music that you listen to on the radio so you’ll like us!!!!!!!”

Let’s get practical, though.

What does adding a secular cover song to a worship set do for the worship set? In my opinion it just takes up space. In most seeker-oriented churches there is a time limit on a worship service. If you only have 60 minutes per service that means that you probably have no more than 25 minutes for worship. Why waste 5 minutes with a U2 cover?

Everyone who actively participates in the church has a song (or a few) that just bug them. You could never hear that song again for as long as you live and be totally ok with it. I started a twitter discussion the other day (@overcommunicate) and got some feedback on songs that people never want to hear again (in no particular order):

-“Marvelous Light”

-“God of Wonders”

-“Awesome God”

-“Lord I Lift Your Name on High”

-“I Will Not Forget You”

-“Friend of God”

-“I Could Sing of Your Love Forever”

What songs would you add to this list?

The last 20 years has seen a remarkable evolution (sorry, I shouldn’t say that word… ummm… transformation?) in the way that a congregation interacts during a worship service. A big part of this is the use of projectors in various forms. It all began with a transparency cart (inevitably operated by a woman over the age of 70 or a child under the age of 13) that projected song lyrics on the wall. If the transparency sheets happened to make it to the illuminated surface in the proper order (which they rarely did), they would likely have misspellings. If someone caught the misspellings beforehand, there would be thick sharpie lines through the phrase: “Shout to the Lord all the erth let us sig”.

Later we discovered that a computer could be hooked to a projector and that we could use this magical program called PowerPoint. Of course, we consistently ran into the problem of the operator getting lost, then frustrated, then publicly humiliated by a perfectionist blended-worship music director (“umm… could you put up the words for ‘Awesome God’?”). That’s just awkward for everyone.

Then there were programs specifically designed for churches to easily project lyrics. But no, we had to screw that up too. Rather than using a simple, solid-color background, we just HAD to use a looping animation of waves crashing onto a beach during sunset as the backdrop to “How Great is our God”. I’m sure that I’m not the only person that would stare at that loop until I could find the point that it repeated.

When we thought that we had grown beyond that, we started using IMAG to put video of the worship band up on the screen in the background of the leaders. Now we are distracted by the fact that everyone in the band has a faux hawk and that when the camera operator gets a shot of the screen, you can see a dozen tiny little screens that repeat forever.

The point is that when using projection to communicate, simplicity is usually the best option. You don’t have to add a touch of excitement to everything. Oftentimes a black screen with white text is the best way to project your lyrics… if projection is even really needed in the first place.