Projecting Excellence – Part 1

In my experience, most worship leaders are oblivious to what’s happening on the screen during a worship service. Wrong words, poorly chosen backgrounds, skipped verses, bad fonts, etc. Worship leaders think it isn’t their responsibility to worry about such things, and that all they have to do is forward their song list to the technical team and everything will be fine when they show up on Sunday morning. I disagree. If you’re the worship leader, you’re responsible for making sure that once the service begins and the very first song starts, there are as few distractions as possible that might keep the congregation from engaging with God. I’m not suggesting that every worship leader has to prepare the files him or herself – but I am suggesting that every worship leader needs to care about what is being projected onto the screens.

Every couple of weeks or so on this blog, we’ll focus on small details that, when added up, make a huge difference. There are a lot of things that we need to keep in mind when projecting lyrics so we’ll take it slowly – one detail per post. Today we’ll look at line breaks, and we’ll use the first verse of “In Christ Alone” as an example.

Here’s an example of poor line breaks.

InChristAlonePPTBad

If I’m in the congregation and this is on the screen, I might be really annoyed by this. It looks messy. The words don’t move to different lines at natural points in the song. There are single words taking up whole lines and then some lines that go really long. It looks like whoever typed this up didn’t care about what they were doing and it was done as an afterthought.

Here’s an example of good line breaks.

InChristAlonePPTGood

Notice how it looks much cleaner than the previous example. The words move to new lines at natural points in the song. The line breaks usually happen where you’d take a breath (after “fiercest drought” ). There aren’t any single words taking up entire lines. It looks like whoever typed this up cared about it and thought through how the line breaks could help the congregation not be distracted.

Things to keep in mind:

  • Are there any extended (two or three beats) pauses in the line when we sing it? That’s a natural place for a line break.
  • Does this slide look messy? Tinker around with it and try to make it look pleasing to the eye.
  • Does my eye have to hop around a lot to figure out where I’m going? Try to make your line breaks flow in a way that’s easy to follow.
  • Are there any “orphaned” words sitting all by themselves? Break up the line evenly so this doesn’t happen.

Even the little details matter!

6 thoughts on “Projecting Excellence – Part 1

  1. Greg July 2, 2009 / 3:12 pm

    Argh, slides have become my nemesis! I’ve definitely run into all these kinds of problems, from formatting and (the worst) spelling mistakes. I’ve found that including the A/V people as part of the music ministry (practices, prayer, etc.) has really helped. I think most people see someone who runs the slides as having nothing to do with the music, but that’s like saying a hymnal has nothing to do with a hymn! The more I’ve tried to break down that false dichotomy, the better we have gotten as a church. There’s a more profound sense of ownership in their ministry.
    “Techies” and “creatives” are one of the same!
    And cool site, just came across it!

  2. Rebekah July 2, 2009 / 5:10 pm

    Yes! Preach it, Jamie! 🙂

  3. Tim Cooper July 2, 2009 / 11:35 pm

    Good thoughts on layout Jamie.

    Maybe this was not the focus of this particular blog and will be addressed in future ones, but if we’re talking layout I’d like to jump in and also mention something else I see in this example.

    I’m curious why the typist of these lyrics would make proper nouns (i.e. a Name of God) out of what are actually attributes or characteristics of God through the use of capitalization. An example would be the word “Song”. I don’t believe Keith Getty had several of these words capitalized in his original lyrics (although I could be wrong). Maybe It seems petty, but like you say, the small things add up and everything plays a part and conveys something to the reader.

    Tim

  4. Jamie Brown July 3, 2009 / 12:33 pm

    Hey Tim,

    Every church does this differently, of course, but we’ve chosen to err on the side of capitalization when it comes to the names of God and His characteristics to help underscore His greatness. We’ll always capitalize “You”, “You’re”, “Your”, “Yours”, “Him”, “His, “He”, etc. We’ll don’t always capitalize characteristics (i.e. we wouldn’t say “You are Good” – we’d say “You are good), but sometimes it does seem fitting.

    Jamie

    • Tim Cooper July 4, 2009 / 12:07 am

      Sure. Like you say, every church does things differently. I was just curious regarding where the consistency lies e.g. “Song” is no more a name of God than is say, solid ground, but one is capitalized but not the other.

      Nice blog today about recording and listening to the service.

      Tim

  5. Chuck August 12, 2011 / 11:48 am

    Thank you! I used to play in a praise band, so I wasn’t directly responsible for what was on the screen. But I usually was the first to arrive on Sunday mornings and I would go through and make edits for this very reason. I thought I was just being an annoying perfectionist, but I do know how distracting it can be when line breaks are bad or backgrounds lack the necessary contrast. So that’s why I would make changes.

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