New Toy: An LCD Projector
Preachers have for years utilized visual aids in the presentation of their lessons. Technological advances over the last 20 years have given preachers many options in the presentation of their sermons. A few short years ago, preachers were limited to slate boards and chalk, or bedsheet charts. While these were effective, they were limited and time consuming to prepare. Some preachers have and still do use slide projectors. However, this technology can be expensive and time consuming as well. You have to take pictures of your charts, develop the film, frame the slides, and color the slides with a magnifying glass and special paints. The overhead projector is much easier to utilize, but a problem arises as to how to prepare the transparencies. Some use a pen, and hand letter their charts. (I have seen some real ugly charts designed with this method). Perhaps you remember the dreaded "ThermoFax" machine. Long after the rest of the world had rejected it as outmoded technology, preachers were dealing with the hard to use and hard to protect thermal film it utilized. The computer has helped greatly with design, and inkjet printers are a wonderful tool. But, anyone who has printed up full color transparencies on their inkjet is aware of how costly the ink and transparencies are. At present, technology has presented us with a new tool (or as the members where I preach call it, a new toy!). It is the LCD Data projector, used in conjunction with the computer to project charts in a similar way to the overhead projectors with which we are so familiar. Far and away it is the most versatile and effective means of complimenting your sermon presentation with visual aids.
With new technology comes growing pains. Some preachers misuse the technology, others are incompetent in their use of it, and from time to time you have members who are resistant to anything new.
An example of an incompetent use of new technology came at the Roy Cogdill, Guy N. Woods debate in Birmingham, Alabama in November of 1957. Brother Cogdill is on record complaining about the use of an overhead projector. On page 88 of the debate (second night, Codgill's third affirmative), he said, "Well, you know he showed us a number of charts. I couldn't see half of them. I couldn't read them even as well as he could, and he couldn't read them too well last night, because it was difficult for us to see." Anyone who has suffered through a sermon where the charts were typed, or the font was too small, or the colors chosen were garish, or the handwritten chart had bad penmanship, can commiserate with brother Cogdill's frustration.
Some believe that the Data Projector has been misused. In the debate held in Louisville, KY between brothers Gene Frost and John Welch, brother Welch used the projector. This scribe was present at that debate. While the use of the projector was indeed impressive, I came away a bit unsettled at the tactics used by brother Welch in the debate. This sentiment is shared by many who were present, and in fact has led to some demanding in subsequent debates that they be held without benefit of the projector. My perception is that the use of the projector in that debate made the common practice of supplying a copy of each chart to the opponent a waste of time. Brother Frost was almost literally buried in paper, as each individual point of each chart was placed on a separate piece of paper. Too, near the end of the debate, an interactive slide with brother Welch carrying on a virtual "conversation" with brother Frost via the computer, was clearly an attempt to humiliate brother Frost, and was unbecoming behavior for brother Welch. It garnered several "laughs" from the audience, but left many sickened and saddened by such tactics. It is one thing to press inconsistencies, it is another thing to ridicule. Many believed that brother Welch had clearly crossed that line.
While there is the potential abuse of the projector, it is too versatile and effective to not be utilized. Those with sufficient means would do well to look into the purchase of this tool.
Following are some common questions asked that should help a preacher or a church decide if they should look into purchasing a data projector, what the costs might be, and how the projector could be utilized to help in the worship:
What is a Data Projector?
put, a data projector is a computer monitor. It projects up on a screen or wall the exact picture you would see on the computer monitor on your desk. It is used in conjunction with some type of "presentation" software, to project a series of "slides" to accompany a sermon or class.
What about Cost?
get what you pay for. The prices of projectors have dropped quickly, and there is no reason why this trend should not continue. (At least to a certain extent). It is still, however, expensive. The projector that we utilize cost around $3,000. Prices range from $1,800 to $20,000, depending upon the features, and the brightness of the projected image. Remember that the projector is only one part of the hardware. There must also be a computer, or VCR, or some other source for the image. Most who use a data projector do so with a laptop computer. Laptops cost between $1,200 and $2,500, and can add significantly to the cost of projection. However, a laptop is not necessary. At present, I have my office computer on a mobile cart, and use it. I unhook my monitor from the computer, and wheel the cart (minus the monitor) down to the auditorium. The cart is compact, and does not constitute an eyesore in the auditorium. It takes me approximatly 10 minutes to set up the computer each Saturday, and 10 minutes to put it back in my office each Monday morning. The cart cost $100. The upside is that after the initial outlay of money, there is no more cost. You could theoretically have 100 slides per sermon, and there is no cost for ink, transparencies, or any other material. Too, the bulbs for the projectors should last well over 10 years under normal conditions.
What Should I Look For in a Projector?
bright image. A projector with a rating of 1,000 lumens or above should satisfy the needs of most church auditoriums. This has been the trouble with data projectors in the past. Projectors of 300 - 500 lumens were never bright enough to be used in a lighted auditorium. Those present at the Louisville debate may remember that Welch's charts looked a bit "washed out." With the brighter projectors this problem is eliminated. Another consideration would be keystone correction. Most are aware that when the screen is not hung at the same angle of the projected image, and keystone effect occurs. That is, the image is much wider at the top, and narrow at the bottom. Many data projectors have an ability to correct this effect within the projector itself. Finally, consideration should be given to how the slides will be advanced. Many projectors have an IR remote that works in conjunction with the computer, allowing for the computer to be put up to 40 feet away from the presenter. A simple button click allows for the progression of slides. Before purchasing the projector, the congregation would need to determine what their needs would be, based upon the auditorium, and computer being used.
What Kind of Software Do I Need to Have?
not familiar with Macintosh software 1, but for PC's there are two very good products. The most popular is the Microsoft Power Point software. Corel also has a software product, called Presentations, that I personally use. Both products are very versatile. They allow for the utilization of templates (the use of which I would strongly encourage), clip art, slide transitions and dissolves, and various animations. For example, If a sermon has 3 major points, a chart could be designed that would allow for the points to move into the chart, from the top or bottom, one at a time, each time the remote button is clicked. This can be a very effective way of moving from one point to another in the sermon.
Do You Have Any Suggestions on How to Use the Projector?
of you to ask. Yes, I do! In the short time I have been utilizing the projector I have learned some do's and don't's. The remainder of this article will allow me to share some wisdom gleaned from "trial and error." If anyone has any other questions, don't hestitate to email.
- Use the projector for Announcements! For the fifteen or so minutes before services start, we run an automated slide presentation consisting of the announcements that are usually made to begin the services. We use these slides to remind parents to send their children to the bathroom and get a drink before services begin, to ask visitors to sign cards, to inform members of the sick, to remind the members of men we support in evangelistic works, to inform members of any meetings in the area, etc. This streamlines the announcements from the pulpit, and allows us to get into the worship more quickly. It also makes for a quieter auditorium the minutes leading up to worship. Right before services start, I turn off the projector, and use a "macro" (a recorded series of keystrokes) to bring up my sermon presentation. It takes all of 5 seconds to transfer from the announcements to my sermon. Macro's are easy to use in these programs, and make the process a simple one.
- Use the projector at Meetings! Unlike an overhead, these projectors are very compact. They can be easily included as carry-on luggage on a plane. If you have a laptop computer and a projector you can easily set up anywhere in just about any auditorium. (One of these days I'm going to get me a laptop!).
- Include Handouts! Every sermon I preach, I include a handout for the brethren to take home with them. Presentations software includes the ability to print up a chart with note lines below it for note taking. Or, multiple charts can be printed per page. I have a printer utility that allows me to print the charts in booklet form. I can print up to 8 charts I use on a single page (two sided), and the charts are clearly readable. The brethren are very receptive to these handouts. Best of all, they take absolutely no time to print up, as they are automatic after the presentation has been prepared.
- Put all the Scriptures up as slides! I know that some will disagree with this, but I have found it to be very beneficial. Some say, "But I want people to turn in their Bible to read along." I understand this, but the fact is that many do not. Having the scriptures up on screen means that more will be actively reading, and because of this the retention of the teaching will be greater. I expected some to object in our congregation when I put up the verses. But, the approval has been unanimous. It allows brethren to concentrate on the teaching rather than having to struggle to "keep up." Some have said they don't want people to get out of the habit of using their Bibles. I would hope that their private study at home would preclude this happening.
- Careful with the colors! Light colors on light backgrounds are unreadable. Dark colors on dark backgrounds are as well. Even black is hard to see if the background is a dark color. It seems that the dark colors with the light print are very well received. I have three I commonly use. One is a green, textured background. One is a solid burgundy. And the other is an Orange, with a gradient from medium to dark. Both of these utilize white, yellow, or tan letters, and are very readable. If you are trying something new, project it before using it. Just because you can read it fine on the monitor on your desk does not mean that when projected it will be clear. (Especially to that hard-headed guy who always insists on sitting on the back pew).
- Do not use ALL CAPS. IN ANY SITUATION, ALL CAPS ARE HARD TO READ! If you want to emphasize, there are other more effective ways. Use bold, or italics, or underline, or use a different color! These all are effective ways to emphasize a word or point.
- Prepare for glitches! What happens if the power goes out, or the computer crashes? Obviously you need to have sermon notes. I have gotten to the point that I preach directly from the charts. So, I make a paper copy (remember, you can put several on each page). That way, if the worst happens I can continue without the projector. Along these lines, I may add that it is helpful to have the computer screen on the laptop in front of you and visible. That way you can follow along with where you are without constantly having to look behind you at the projection screen. In my case, I keep an old monitor on the front pew. The color is bad, and its worthless for any other purpose, but I always know by glancing at it which slide I am on.
- Use sufficiently large fonts. In the past I have sacrificed font size to get all of the material on a single overhead transparency. I have rationalized this by thinking that the extra expense of multiple transparencies offsets the fact that not everyone will be able to read the transparency. After all, if they really wanted to see it, they could move up to the front! But with the LCD projector this is not necessary. There is no need to cram too much material on a single slide, as you can use as many slides as you want! In our auditorium fonts that are at least 32 pts. in size are visible all the way to the back of the room. So, I never use a font smaller than that.
- Make a template, and use it! Utilizing a template will make the presentation look better, and will also allow you to prepare your presentations more quickly. No one likes to see one slide after another, all using different fonts, different colors, and different transitions. Stick with one style throughout the presentation.
- Be careful with transitions! It is possible to make each slide a visual delight. You can fade in and out. Spiral in and out. Dissolve in and out. Jigsaw in and Out. Etc., etc., etc. Believe me, it gets old in an hurry. I use a dissolve for my initial slide, and maybe one at the end. Outside of this, a simple, instanstaneous change from one slide to another is much less intrusive and jarring to the audience. Remember, the purpose of the transition is to supplement the preaching, not to overpower it!
- Consider carefully the number of slides you use! Remember, you are not limited due to ink or the cost of transparencies. The LCD projector is another animal entirely. There is no reason to limit your presentation to one or two slides. Using numerous slides keeps the audience interested. I average 18-25 each sermon. This includes a title slide to begin my sermon, slides for the major points of the sermon, and slides for each scripture quoted. Also slides can be used for illustrations, quotes from other sources, and any extra point of emphasis that needs to be made. In contrast, using too many slides can make for a rushed and unnatural presentation. Personally, I have struggled with this, as when I use too many slides I see a change in my preaching. I feel I can't enlarge upon a point, or bring in a needed thought, because I have to get finished!
The preceding, of course, is not exhaustive. I hope that it is beneficial to at least a few. Technology is neither inherently good nor bad, but it can certainly be useful. Just an hour ago one of the elders here at West Side indicated to me that he believed the purchase of the projector was one of the best things we have done for the worship in recent memory. I said in reference to the substantial cost, "Well, I'm glad because I felt a bit of trepidation in suggesting we buy it." He answered, "Well, I'm glad too, because I felt a bit of trepidation in agreeing to it!" If I can assist anyone who is interested in buying or using one of these projectors, or if anyone has other suggestions we could use in a future article on the subject, please email me.
Following is some general information regarding the projector we purchased. It has manual focus and zoom, and does not have the keystone correction. We sacrificed some of the "bells and whistles" to get as bright a projector as possible at the price. We have been extremely satisfied with the projector.
Mfg. Part no.: LVP-S50U
Mitsubishi S50 Ultra Por LCD Proj, 1000 Lumens SVGA
UPS 3 Day 28.64
$10 handling fee for check
It was purchased it from a place called:
10 Commercial Blvd. Ste. 202
Novato, CA 94949
TechStore Part no.: 480MIT213
1. A reader who is familiar with Apple Software sent in the following, "I just wanted to kindly add that PowerPoint is also available for the Mac, and AppleWorks version 6.0 also has a new presentation module. I'm not sure about Corel." Thanks Joel!
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