I recently posed the following question to our panel of experts:
You’re thrust into a new congregation and asked to run the visual media ministry. How do you discern what will work and what won’t for that particular congregation?
This was worshipVJ‘s response.
Experiment. And be a part of honest community.
First, I would ask the leadership what everyone is used to, and I would start from there. I wouldn’t go too “out there” with effects & moving imagery, as I would want the visual transition for the congregation to be as seamless as possible. You can’t lead anyone to a new place unless you meet them where they are already at.
I would also try to attend the band rehearsals (which should always happen, in my opinion) and allow my direct leader/authority to watch and approve what I’m VJ-ing, so that it isn’t too far off from what everyone is used to. For me, this is the worship leader. The worship leader knows what is best for your church more than anyone else. They are the ones with the creative vision, typically.
My goal would not be to simply replicate what has already been done…to make everything look familiar, but I would want to provide a fresh visual experience that feels familiar.. Example: if the congregation has been used to mostly nature stills, I wouldn’t do a bunch of nature motions, or any motions at all. I would stay “still” as much as possible. But I also wouldn’t use the same old still they have been recycling forever; I would use fresh ones. Then go from there.
As you progress, lean into the feel of the experience.
For me, when I VJ, it’s all about the music. If the music doesn’t move me, then it’s hard for me to put “feeling” into the visuals. But when I’m able to connect with the music, I am inspired to add a visual harmony, of sorts. So study the music, live with it, practice alongside the band, and fuse the two mediums together as much as possible.
Go to lunch with people. Hang out with them outside of church. Get out of the production booth. Turn off your computer. Break down any barriers of isolation and be one of the people, not just the man behind the curtain. You’re not the Wizard of Oz… and they need to experience you as a person, not the tech guy who runs the screens. Build authentic relationships, and through the course of conversations, get a read on what people think of the visual changes. Share with them your passion & vision for creativity, media, technology & visual worship. Ask them questions….you’ll be surprised at how much people notice things and want to dialogue about everything.
Not only will you earn trust in the congregation, but you’ll start to get a feel for what they respond to and how best you can serve them, and yes, even challenge them.
Don’t ever assume what the congregation thinks & feels. And don’t sit in board room meetings and theorize about what worked and what didn’t. Staff meetings have their place, but you won’t get a full, balanced picture of what reality truly is. Don’t communicate AT your congregation….communicate WITH them. And be true to yourself. God placed in you a gift… and He has you in this new situation for a reason. So lean into your God-designed ability to create the way only you can.