Got the Big Picture?

by Terry Wilhite

Got the Big Picture

What You Should Know About Projection Screens and Your Message

Big-screen projection systems in houses of worship are unquestionably one of the most powerful tools that a Christian communicator can have. Used properly, the big screen can help you connect in an unprecedented fashion. Used improperly, it can be your biggest competition, even a "Trojan horse" that allows unworthy things into the sanctuary. If you've already taken the plunge into the projection arena or you've handed over the screen controls to the music or youth minister, or you've just plain ruled it out, you'll want to keep reading. There are some things you need to know before you fire off your own bullet points on the big screen, lest the ammunition hit you in the toe!

A Picture Is Worth...

My two boys, Aaron, 5, and Avery, 1, have taught me a great deal about communications, and even about big-screen technology. One night as Aaron sat at my side and Avery sat in my lap, we took another trip through the storybook, Gary Builds a Park. As I read the text at the bottom of the pages, their little eyes were fixed on the bulldozers, tractors, and road graders. Although those images stood frozen on the page, from the glow on the boys' faces and the sparkle in their eyes, I could see that, in their minds, they had those tractors revved up and roaring. "That's it!" I said to myself, "The pictures, not the text, bring this story to life! The power is in the pictures."

If you want communications power, tell a story. Paint a picture! Great communicators can take plain text and bring it to life. Can it be done without a big screen? Absolutely. Our aim ultimately, in fact, is to project to the mind, not the screen on the wall. Can the big screen help you communicate? Sure. We can put our outlines or text on the big screen, and that certainly makes the message easier to follow, but remember, the power is in the pictures. And like my oldest son, who knows the story (and words) by heart, soon the story for your audience becomes indelibly etched in their minds. The power is in story telling. The power is in the pictures. The power is in repetition. All of us have a great deal of kid in us just longing to be pulled up close, onto somebody's lap, and told a story. The big screen allows you to do that in your sanctuary.

Opportunities and Obstacles

The following are "instructions" for pastors that do not come with the projector or remote control!

You are still the most important visual on the stage. Your listeners should be focused on you primarily and your visuals secondarily. If you're projecting an outline, read the point verbatim and then command their attention. Step forward or say "Now focus here." Once you establish the cadence of what to look at when, they'll know what to do and you can be less commanding.

Projecting your outlines is very effective. Fill-in-the-blank outlines are even more effective because it allows audience participation. At our church, we have the fill-in-the-blank outline in the bulletin, three-hole punched, so listeners can put the outlines in their small notebooks, and fill-in-the-blanks as the words come up in the outline on the screen.

Don't compete with your visuals. If you project Scripture, bring it up on screen, read it verbatim, and at the end of the Scripture reference, boom! Go back to the outline. Don't leave the Scripture up while you're trying to make your next point. Your job is to focus attention. If that Scripture verse remains up and you're talking, they've got two points of focus-one too many.

Your best visuals are in the children's department. Jesus liked to teach "out and about"-in the real-world. Visuals on the big screen provide that kind of relevancy. If you're looking for Scripture visuals, take digital photos or make scans of the big "picture posters" that teachers use in the children's department. (Don't sell or give the digital renderings away-that's copyright infringement-but you can use them for your own use.)

Video sermon illustrations are available. See my Web site for sources.

Using clips from movies are popular. But remember, even if the clip is rated "G," but the movie is rated something less, your use of the clip, like it or not, is an endorsement of the entire film. Careful, lest a Trojan Horse comes stampeding up the center isle!

More information is available in my video, Multimedia for Pastors. Visit or Terry Wilhite, 439 Norman Road, Greenville, Alabama 36037. Wilhite, a popular national writer and speaker, has produced

several best-selling videos, including Lights, Camera, Digital Video and M&Ms (Music, MIDI and Ministry) in a Box!

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