Liturgical use of projectors and screens
An article by Edward Green from Issue 61 (spring 2019) of Praxis News of Worship. Illustrations of his PowerPoint slides can be downloaded from this link.
An increasing number of churches are embracing the use of screen technology for liturgical worship. In the past such technology was principally used for the display of song words in periods of contemporary sung worship. The needs of a gathering rooted in words, response and movement can be quite different.
The placement of screens is the first consideration. They need to be located in a way that does not block the visual focus of the worship space. Equally they need to be of a size and number so as to be clearly seen by all members of the congregation, including those leading the service (musicians and sacred ministers), and flexible enough to enable liturgical movement (for gathering around the font or facing west for the dismissal.)
Much of the software used to drive screens in worship is ill-suited for the presentation of liturgy. PowerPoint however can produce clear ‘pages’ that reflect the textual layout that congregations are accustomed too. Text should be on a dark background (blue or black), and congregational responses in yellow. Transitions and animations should be used sparingly. Use of images, loops and video can be powerful but should never compete with the text: it is better to have images and text side-by-side. A free-to-use template is available at http://www.signandspirit.com/2016/03/worshpr-powerpoint-template.html
Well-formatted PowerPoint slides will take into account readability of text at the furthest points from the screen, and with suitable printer settings can form booklets for those who find screens difficult to look at. The legacy of the Prayer Book is to present the whole liturgy to the people, so sacred ministers do not need a separate altar book.
Smooth control of the liturgy is vital. A good quality laptop with an SSD, i5 CPU and 16gb of RAM is a minimum. The laptop is best situated close to the altar party, with a server given the role of changing slides. This individual needs to have good liturgical sense: the flow of worship can be harmed by the task being undertaken badly. As always things can go wrong, but the intention should be to do things well.
At All Saints we have found that the use of screens enables engagement from the congregation, especially for people who are not used to church. A screen over the font has transformed baptism services, and the screens are requested for the majority of weddings and funerals.
Edward Green is Vicar of All Saints, Leavesden.