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From Scripture to Screen: Effectively Presenting the Message

Kaitlyn Snook September 12, 2013

USB BibleToday, many churches incorporate some type of technology during sermons and worship services. For example, pastors use presentations and other visuals to convey the message they’re preaching. This helps visitors and regular attenders to follow along. And if they forgot to bring a Bible, having the scripture on the screen can help them fully comprehend the message. By effectively presenting the message using presentation software, your congregation can gain a better understanding of the material.

Presentations aren’t limited to Sunday sermons, either. During worship services or gatherings, people are more willing to participate if they know the words to songs. This way, they can sing in unison with everyone else and can create a bond among worshipers.

Saving Staff Time

Technology can be a blessing to your staff if it’s used effectively. Often, the person or group who creates and runs presentations has another role in the church. Maybe they can’t be solely dedicated to this job. (That’s where volunteers can help!) But whether you, your staff, or volunteers are tasked with crafting a presentation, having the right technology can save time and even make the job enjoyable.

  • Quick Tip: Is the congregation rowdy before the service? Use a count-down timer to settle them and let them know exactly when it’s time to start.

Designing Effective Presentations

By effectively presenting the message, your congregation can quickly understand what the pastor is preaching. If a presentation isn’t done well or is overdone, it takes away from the message and distracts from the intent. A presentation should enhance the service, not overtake it. Effective presentations are all about the balance between the amount of words on each slide, how those words are arranged, and the manner in which they are presented.

If there are too many words on the screen, they may be difficult to see and follow along with. If there are too few words, you end up clicking through the slides too quickly. These things make it hard for worshipers to follow along. Line breaks and spacing are also important to consider in effective design.

  • Quick Tip: For worship song presentations, use logical line breaks. That is, wherever the worship leader pauses, add a line break.

Let’s look at an example:

NOT Effectively Presenting the Message
Effectively Presenting the Message

Likewise, in a sermon presentation, it’s important to break content where the speaker will break. It helps to have the speaker’s notes before building any slides. With their notes, you can see where the speaker will emphasize points and what ultimate objective they’ll build up to.

  • Quick Tip: The presentation shouldn’t “give away” any special points the speaker wants to make. Don’t steal their thunder!

You can use formatting (such as bold, underline, and italics) to emphasize key points. But remember to balance these! Don’t use formatting when it’s not necessary, and don’t overuse or apply too many at one time. Go minimalistic with your slides, and leave the storytelling to the speaker.

Now let’s see an example of all of these points:

NOT Effectively Presenting the Message
Effectively Presenting the Message

See the difference?

Choosing Your Presentation Software

When you hear “presentation,” what’s the first software product that comes to mind? We often use PowerPoint® synonymously with onscreen presentations. However, there are more options that you can consider based on your church’s specific needs.

Before you can choose, you need to know your church’s needs. You want to think about your budget, but this shouldn’t be the only deciding factor. Think about what you need versus what you would like the software to do for you. Do what’s right for your staff and congregation.

  • Quick Tip: Make sure you will really use all the features that you’re paying for. Avoid fancy techniques that could be too complicated for the average user.

Some popular software options are discussed in the table below.

Popular Presentation Software Options

Software Operating System Price (visit each link for more information)
ProPresenter® by Renewed Vision Windows® and Mac® $399 for a single license
$799 for a site license
EasyWorship® Windows® only;
Mac® development is in progress
$399 for a site license (full version)
MediaShout® Windows® and Mac® $399 (full version)
Proclaim® Windows® and Mac® Free to download and use in limited trial state;
Full version ranges from $200 to $350 per year,
depending on church size
PowerPoint® Windows® $110 for just PowerPoint
Keynote® Mac® $20 for the app
EasySlides® Windows® Free
Projector® by Planning Center iPad® and iPhone® App is free; small monthly fee to cover
streaming costs.
Must have a Planning Center account
which ranges from $14 to $99 per month

Software should make ministry easier, not more complicated. If software is complicated or has too many features, your staff or volunteers will likely end up frustrated and will dread their task. And if they don’t care about what they’re doing, it will show in the presentation.

With all of these things in mind, remember this:  it’s the message –not the presentation– that’s most important. Do your best at effectively presenting the message to the congregation without overemphasizing the presentation itself.

Be sure to check out Part 2 of this article where I share my experience as a worship service presenter.

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