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Author Archive | Luke McElroy

Simple and Effective ProPresenter Hot Key System

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Image from Lightstock.com

Do you ever find it’s nearly impossible to keep up with the worship leader who is “led by the spirit”? Of course there’s no chance they could actually do the song in the order it was originally suggested. In fact… that would be crazy! No, instead they have to do Chorus 1, Verse 2, Bridge, Verse 1, Chorus, First part of the bridge before going into the third verse… you get the point. It’s all over the place.

This is always the case with worship leaders at conferences and events as they are used to playing with the same band, where they have great chemistry and know when they’re moving to a new section. As the visual guy who has never worked with them, I had to come up with a system that allowed for maximum flexibility in the moment of worship.

(I’ve made a print version of this that you can download and put next to your booth for your volunteers. Feel free to download that at: lukemcelroy.com/resources)

When I run lyrics I use two hands on the keyboard. One hand is on the left and right arrows. The other hand is over the left home keys of the keyboard. And each key has a specific meaning as the start of a specific section. Here’s my code:

Keys “A-L” are the middle row and are to me signify the main verses in a song. For example key “A” will trigger the first slide of the first verse. Key “S” will trigger the second verse, “D” the third, and so on. If you haven’t looked down at the keyboard yet you really ought to!

This verse system allows for 9 verses. If you have a song with more than 9 verses then you need to rethink the songs you’re singing. Just kidding… but seriously.

The row immediately below the verses is where all the other elements of a song come into play… here’s my key:

Z – This is the last letter in the alphabet, and the lowest left key which works out as my failsafe or my “black” so I assign this to trigger a blank slide.
X – It’s the key immediately before the C, so it stands for Pre-Chorus for me.
C – is for the Chorus.
V – Stands for “Vamp” or an alternative chorus
B – For Bridge
N – for eNding… not sure how that works in my head, but I hear the letter N.
M – is for whatever else you need it to be. The tag, a repeat or another element. It’s my extra or my “Misc”

It’s amazing how this works out to make sense. If you use a presentation software that allows you to assign hot keys or keyboard shortcuts, I would highly recommend adopting this strategy. The volunteers at our church have enjoyed this system and allows us to be flexible whenever we have a change in order in the middle of a song.

What’s your system?

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Why I Hate the Top 10 List

A few years back I was at a conference with a few other visual worship leaders. I don’t remember exactly how it came up, but I made the statement “I hate the top 10 list on WorshipHouse Media.” Before I jump in, let me be clear… I love WorshipHouse Media and I’m a huge fan of the team of behind it.

My statement wasn’t to bash or slam WorshipHouse (or any other church media provider who displays popular content this way), but rather to point out an issue with the ways in which people buy church media. You see the list in it of itself isn’t where the problem exists, rather how people use the list.

Too often I hear stories of people who think of worship media as merely a way to fill the “void” of a blank screen. Media becomes a functional item rather than another instrument in the band. Instead of media becoming the storytelling device that it can be, we allow it to just be a “background” on the slides or lyrics we display.  This thinking changes the value we place on the media we use in our worship environments.

When choosing media is just a functional process, we create systems and routines that make life as easy as possible. I understand the time constraints on weekly ministry and I also full well know that your job far extends the area of your focus. Those who work for a church don’t just have a single role on the team. It’s more likely that you have two or three jobs, if not many more!

So we resort to shortcuts wherever we can, and herein lies my issue with the top ten list. I think too many people use it as a crutch to find media that they think is good only on the basis that others are buying it. Thus, causing a spiraling loop of media that continues to be used in the church merely because others used it in their church. But what if a great majority are only using it because others are using it. Do you see the endless cycle here?

The top ten list is a tool, a beneficial tool. It’s a resource to help you find great media faster. But that doesn’t mean it’s the only way to find media. We must do the hard work to find the best media for our communities. It may not be on sale. It may not even be in the first few pages of whatever site you get your media. For me, the “best” media has less to do with the number of time’s it’s been sold and instead more of it’s ability to speak truth or tell a story that connects with my community the best.

  • The best media isn’t what sells the most and it’s not always on the first page.
  • The best media is what tells a great story.
  • The best media invites people into a deeper encounter with their Creator.

So I need to make an apology for my statement at that conference because it was wrong. I can’t get mad at the top ten list… and I’m absolutely not mad at WorshipHouse Media… I guess I just don’t like the way people use the top ten list on WorshipHouse Media.

There is some incredible media out there that’s never been seen and never been downloaded… don’t let that tell you that it’s not good media.

Your turn… What are some strategies you use to find media?

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4 Factors for Choosing Great Media

fourfactorsblog*Image from Lightstock.com

Choosing the right media for your worship presentation isn’t something that comes naturally. For me, there’s a process and I am always wrestling with what specific motion background or still image to use. Over the year’s I’ve refined my process to ask four key questions. In this post, you’ll find the four factors I consider when choosing the right piece of media.

1. Speed
Whenever you’re browsing online or in your library for media, you need to make sure that you’re factoring in a very important factor: Speed. Speed is like the tempo of a song… if it’s right it can be uplifting, hopeful and inspiring. If it’s wrong it is a train wreck. I always ask “Does the speed of this clip match the tempo of the song?” That is my test to see if a piece of media will work in my worship set.

2. Story
Every piece of media can tell a story… however I find that most of the time we don’t let our media tell an intentional story. If we aimlessly select media as a “background” to the lyrics, then we’re only interested in adding noise and filling a void. Think about it: if our purpose is to fill a void, then we’re just adding pixels to an already cluttered visual environment. However if we choose our media to highlight a key phrase in the song, or elevate a key emotion that is heard, then we have an ability to allow the pixels to deepen the worship environment.

3. Space
Not every piece of media that has the right speed and a story that matches the song is right for worship. A key to great design is great white space, or the areas in which there is nothing to help direct the eyes to focus on another. That may be a confusing way to say this: is there an area where the text can live unhindered by other textures, etc.? Does the design lend itself to see your text more clearly if it’s behind words?

4. Style
Finally, I am very concerned with the style of a motion. This is very different from the story or the space because style is how it has the ability to connect with my community. The media you use in your church environment may not actually be the same as the church down the road. That’s because each community has a unique calling from God. For example, my church has a style that includes a lot of grunge, textures and “rough” looks. This stems out of our belief that we are broken, fallen people who are desperately in need of a savior. Therefore our media’s style is specifically chosen to fall in line with that vision. Does your church has a specific style?

I love it when I see friends at other churches using media that connects well with their community. When this happens there seems to be a synergy between the worship leader and the visual worship leader. This week try looking at these four things when you get the song list from the worship leader. If by chance you are both the worship leader and the one who chooses the background, then what would it look like to put the same amount of intentionality into the media on screen that you put into the songs you sing?

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