It’s the 21st century and as media ministers we have never had more tools at our disposal than we do right now. From creation to display the marketplace is saturated. With all these tools it’s easy to get lost in process and that’s what I want to talk about today. So what does your average preparation for a service look like today? Is it a hodge podge of the worship leader giving you new lyrics that are printed out, passing around usb fobs with graphics on it, being buried in papers of service order, and finding the sermon title? It all seems a bit hectic right? It shouldn’t be lets go through 4 tips and tricks for making everything just a little more smooth.
Just like any minister you should be working before service all that you can in order to better be able to handle what ever comes up during service. A long time ago I had a bad habit, I did 0 preparation before service, I made the sermon graphic in between songs, I arrived just 15 minutes before service to add any new songs, I set up recording just a few minutes before hand, and I did sprucing up on the look of songs on the fly. I used to think this was a badge of honor, something to be proud of, after all I was so efficient I didn’t need any additional time, but I couldn’t have been more wrong. You see when you don’t prepare before service you have no margin for error any little thing that goes wrong will cause everything to suffer. If the internet suddenly goes out before service you don’t want to have to miss the first two songs because you’re distracted elsewhere. So spend time before service in preparation, and try to do as much as you can before you come to church and when you do come to church come at least 30 minutes early. Practice with your worship team and choir so that you’ll know how the songs go and what tweaks need to be made, text the minister before hand to see what their title is, talk to the worship leader to see what the order of the service is, etc. Everyone else spends time in preparation for service and you should too.
Worship leaders are your friends and you should work with them every chance you get. Keep an open channel of communication that way when they start to learn a new song they can give you a heads up so that you can have lyrics prepared way ahead of time. Also watch them during service often who ever is leading the song will give signs to let you know where they’re going next this will keep you in lock step with the rest of the praise and worship team. Finally don’t forget to show up to their practice as well and follow along with them. This will give you a better idea of how to lay songs out and how the flow of particular songs works.
Have you ever been caught running around before service making sure that everyone has everything they need? Often times people will run around with USB drives to make sure everyone has the same resources, images, and so on. This takes way too much time on a process that could be automated away with Dropbox. One workflow I love is having a couple of Dropbox folders that are linked to hot-folders in ProPresenter, this allows you to save a file to Dropbox on one computer and have it automatically sent to all computers that share that Dropbox but more importantly this automatically imports this slides into ProPresenter where they’re ready to use. Your team should work to centralize resources such as graphics, and service schedules, as much as you can, however you should never centralize processes. Automate everything that you can that way you only have to do your job.
A long time ago I went to a church where we did everything off of one computer; slides, Photoshop prep-work, media streaming, everything you can think of from one computer. We didn’t realize it at this time but this is asking for trouble. I mean think about it, one computer with one person operating everything, what if streaming crashes then who ever is manning that station will have to take their attention away from everything else and get that back working. What if SongShow, MediaShout, or ProPresenter crashes and requires you to restart your computer then your Livestream may go out. Each process should ideally have it’s own workstation, Title slides should be created on one workstation (hopefully before service), one workstation should handle slide display, and another should handle media streaming or recording. Ideally you would want one workstation for each type of media but grouping functions is OK just make sure that each grouping makes sense eg. no slide display and streaming on one machine.
I hope this is of some help to you and your media department. None of these are really hard and fast rules but rather guidelines you should consider when building your processes and infrastructure.