As I write this, I’m being distracted.  My phone’s pinging, the TV’s calling, and of course the new email notifications keep popping up.

I don’t think you will find anyone who doesn’t want to minimize distractions in our worship services.

But what does that really mean? How do you even attempt to do that in our technology-saturated, visual-stimulating, phone-won’t-stop-vibrating world?

When we gather corporately to worship God, that time is sacred and holy.  It’s a time to stop thinking about what your coming week has in store and really be free to worship unhindered – in whichever way that manifests itself for you and in your church.

As the tech director/worship pastor/senior pastor, it’s your responsibility to create an environment (both physically and spiritually) free from distractions.  This takes time and collaboration with your team. You have to have relationship with the people who plan your Sunday service!  I might step on some toes, but I hope this gets you thinking:

Worship pastors: Do everything in your power to get the slide operator/designer the correct song list.
Worship pastors: Do everything in your power to get the slide operator/designer the correct song list – with the correct arrangement of how you will sing the song.  I get it. Most of you don’t know what you’re singing until you’re singing it. I’m not saying you have to be locked into singing it exactly that way. But there is a way to prepare the slide operator as much as possible.

Senior pastors: Same thing.  If you are writing your sermon during the worship time, please don’t expect the slide operator to perform a small miracle and have your sermon notes perfect.  Either don’t use them in that scenario, or make them very concise.  Please, no walls of text to type in.

Tech Operators: You aren’t off the hook either.  It’s your responsibility to test all the audio/video/lighting systems before the Sunday service. But you also need to know what to do in case something does fail.  Can you bail to black quickly on your projector?  Can you quickly replace a microphone if it dies during the message? Can you quickly find another light to bring up if the only solo light lamp blows?

Here are some practical steps to take this week to reduce distractions in lights and on the screen:

Lighting:

  • Have the lighting operator rehearse the lighting looks with the band.
  • Make sure no gels are burned out or no lamps are blown. Keep your equipment in good shape so it doesn’t fail prematurely during the service.
  • Make sure your lighting console is backed up somewhere (if applicable).
  • Keep the lights out of people’s face (for the most part).
  • Use one or two main colors. Be concise with color choices.

On Screen:

  • Have the lyric operator practice with the band when they rehearse.
  • Switch to the next slide on the second-to-last word of the slide.
  • For worship songs: one phrase at a time on the screen.
  • Make sure your presentation software can play DVD’s seamlessly so you don’t run the risk of losing a cued-up DVD right before the pastor calls for it. (Happened to me plenty of times!)
  • Make sure you have an easy way to bail to black on the screen.
  • Don’t use motion backgrounds that are too fast for worship.
  • Be careful with font choice. Be creative, but be wise and choose a font that’s legible.
  • Avoid special effects – we don’t need the text to fly in from the top left corner.
  • Be wise with font color and make sure there’s enough contrast to read the text over the background (or use an outline and shadow on the text).
  • Either capitalize or don’t capitalize. Be consistent– especially when dealing with “He” or other words like that.
  • There is a difference between “O” and “Oh”. O is direct address. Oh is used to indicate emphasis.
  • Spell-check and proof read. I don’t mean simply get rid of red squiggly marks. Read each slide out loud to make sure you didn’t miss a word when typing.

I hope these tips open your eyes to the little things that make a big impact. The best way to learn is to pause and be observant.  So often we’re scrambling so much to finish typing in the lyrics or getting the lighting just right that we miss some simple things that cause distractions.

Take the time and effort, and look at the details in your service.