Let there be light
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Date: 4 August, 2005



'If by using modern technology and the media resources that are becoming available we can stimulate and challenge people to experience God in a real and exciting way then this must be seen as a positive step.'




 

You’ve got the projector now get something to use on it! Richard Armiger looks at ways to enhance your church's worship experience.

A growing number of churches are installing video projection systems in their church buildings for use in worship. As the cost of technology continues to fall the spread of video projectors and laptops/PCs in churches seems set to continue to increase. This article explores some of the resources that are available for use with this equipment.

Before suggesting some resources I want to spend a moment or two exploring the reasons behind why this kind of technology and media should become part of our worshipping experience.

For some people going to church is an opportunity to in some way ‘shut out the real world’ and simply spend time with God without the trappings that are all around us. Whilst this is a valid viewpoint there are, I believe, some risks to this approach.

When we are in church I believe that it is not possible, and I would even go so far as to say not advisable to try and leave everything at the door. The first reason for this is that worship in church should be the culmination of everything we do during the week, therefore if we try and leave stuff behind as we walk through the door we may not be offering everything to God.

Secondly worship involves or should involves our whole being, by utilising the technology that is available to us for visual and aural stimulation we can enhance our worshipping experience. Visual stimulation is all around us every moment of every day and you only need to refer the gospels to see that Jesus made effective use of visual illustrations in his preaching and teaching. He referred to the farmer sowing seed in the field, he vividly painted visual images to enhance other parables. And throughout the history of the church visual stimulation has been important. The bright colours used in the original decoration of cathedrals and other church buildings shows the importance of this in church history.

If by using modern technology and the media resources that are becoming available we can stimulate and challenge people to experience God in a real and exciting way then this must be seen as a positive step. The starting point in all of this is that technology must only be seen as a way of enhancing worship rather than something to be used just because it is there. The balance to be achieved is to ensure that the technology does not become the focus for our worship, but that we keep our eyes focused clearly on God with the technology helping to direct that focus.

The last thing that I want to say on this is that for those people on the fringe and outside of the church then we need to continue to explore ways that we can make the Good News relevant to them and technology may provide one way for us to do this.

I know from my own preaching experience that there are a wide range of views on the use of technology in worship and so I leave that part of the debate open for you to decide on the approach that you and your church choose to take.

If you have already got a video projector and computer set-up installed in your church then you will be interested in the resources that are available for you to make full use of the system. The second part of this article takes a look at some of the video based resources that are available for you to use.

As the demand for resources grows the number of resources is slowly growing with material produced with the UK as well a wealth of material produced in the USA.

The first resource that I want to mention is by an American organisation known as Nooma. Nooma produce a range of short videos (DVD based) on a number of different topics. Each video is between 10-14 minutes in length and can be used to trigger discussion or as part or all of a talk/sermon within worship or housegroups. They are produced in conjunction with Zondervan and are very well produced to ensure that the viewers attention is maintained throughout. Each of the films comes on a DVD and are priced at £9.50 and available through Wesley Owen. Short trailers of each of the films are available at the Wesley Owen website. Overall a good value resource well worth exploring further.

RUN (Reaching the Unchurched Network) have produced a DVD resources entitled In Motion. This DVD based resource provides over 80 minutes of video material covering topics such as forgiveness, success, relationships and spirituality. The DVD includes the following material:

  • 5 stories relating faith to real life issues
  • 3 light hearted dramas exploring serious questions
  • 5 excerpts from "The Street Bible" filmed on location with Rob Lacey
  • 3 reflective sessions using images and music
  • Booklet included with suggested ideas for best use

The DVD has a simple menu structure which makes navigating between sections easy and is designed for use within worship, housegroup, outreach events or on a one-one basis. The DVD is available at a price of £19.00 direct from RUN. Due to the structure of this resource it can be used on several different occasions and form part of a library of video material. The idea behind creating a library of resources for use as and when is followed up by the next few resources and can be an effective way to build video material into a range of different settings and occasions.

IotaMedia produce a range of video resources for use by churches and they have just released a new resource ‘The Clubbers Guide to Life’. This DVD includes a number of clubbers who reflect on life, money, sex, power and relationships.   The material for the DVD was filmed in Ibiza. The DVD features;

  • Vox Pops - filmed in Ibiza and the UK
  • FAQ's - questions from leading youth opinion surveys. Great as a discussion starter.

The DVD aims to stimulate discussion and can be used in a variety of settings it is ideal for those working amongst young people and for use in the classroom for personal, social and health education lessons at KS3 and KS4. Priced at £19.99 it is a good value product and can be previewed and purchased directly from IotaMedia.

The final products are produced by my own company Active Media Publishing and so I have left these until last. At AMP we produce a range of resources for use in worship and have recently worked with Lee Abbey in producing a reflections DVD which is a collection of worship and meditative material from the Christian Community at Lee Abbey. The DVD is a unique series of images from around the 280 acre Exmoor estate, blended together with inspirational music from Simeon Wood and John Gerighty. The reflections were originally put together by Dave Hopwood a member of the community and are available on the DVD through a simple to use menu structure. The DVD contains the following sections with around 1 hour of material. The DVD can be used for corporate worship as well as personal devotions:

  • Celtic Reflections
  • Worship Reflections
  • Psalm 23 Reflections
  • Meditations

The DVD also contains Windows Media files which can be incorporated into stand alone PowerPoint presentations or within other presentation software. The DVD is priced at £19.99 and available from CPO or AMP.

Due out at the end of August is an exciting new resource that we are working on in partnership with Twelve Baskets. This is a DVD resource which will contain three complete media based worship services. The material is thought provoking and challenging and will stimulate discussion within worship. The material will be provided through an easy to use DVD menu either as an entire act of worship or in individual sequences depending upon the way you choose to use the material. The DVD is priced at £19.99 and is available from AMP directly.

AMP also produce the JustWorship series of resources which I have reviewed previously and are a series of individual video clips that can be incorporated into worship. The next JustWorship DVD is currently in production and due for release in October this year. Each DVD is priced at £19.99.

For more information on the products that AMP produce visit the website.

I make no apologies for the products that I have mentioned which we produce directly as I hope that it helps to illustrate the growing range of resources that are being produced for use with the new technology.

Richard Armiger runs his own training consultancy and media production company, Armadillos, and is a Co-Editor of eChurch Active. Tel: 0845 2268507 or visit www.armadillos.biz

 


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