The Ten Commandments of Data Projection

1. You shall have no other gods before me ….

A data projector is a piece of electronics. Very neat, very clever, loads of uses - but that is all it is. It can, if used well, enhance our worship, help us in proclaiming the gospel and help make a church more ‘family friendly’. If used badly it can damage rather than enhance these things. Worship of God is the most important thing we do, so always ask the question: is my use of this kit going to enhance the worship this Sunday?

2. You shall not make for yourself an idol …

If you are not sure that the answer is ‘yes’ then leave it in the cupboard for this week. Then you can be sure that the means is not becoming your god.

3. You shall not misuse …

Your projector is a delicate piece of equipment. The bulbs are expensive and blow very easily. Always use the shut down procedures and never, never switch off at the mains whilst it is running. Do not move a projector while it is turned on. If you are transporting it around then get yourself a carry case and always use it. Also be very careful about trailing leads; not only might your projector be damaged, but worse, someone may be injured by tripping over them.

4. Remember the Sabbath …

Churches, and particularly Methodist churches, are one of the most difficult environments in which to use a projector. Our buildings are often really quite bright places and it can be difficult to blank out windows. And is it really desirable that people should worship in the dark so that a projector can be used and seen? Watch out for where the sun will be at your worship times. Summer evenings can be particularly difficult when the low sun streams in through a window straight onto the screen. Blank out the worst windows, but best of all buy the brightest projector you can afford. The brightness is measured in lumens, so get the highest figure possible.

5. Honour your parents …

Remember that not everyone can, or is willing to, see the screen. You will never persuade them otherwise and so it is good practice always to provide on paper what you are displaying on the screen and preferably in large print.

6. You shall not murder …

…the eyesight of your congregation. There is a great temptation to try to cram too much on one slide. It cost nothing to create more slides so do this rather than make the text smaller. You should choose a clear font, such as Arial or Comic Sans MS, and keep the size at least 32 point. If text is to be read aloud then try to make it bold and at least 36 point. Do not use a wide range of fonts, establish a style and keep it throughout the presentation. Do not clutter with complicated backgrounds that detract from the text, and use colours well to establish a contrast between the text and background. Always check these on the projector, as the colours never quite look the same as on the display.

7. You shall not commit adultery …

The equivalent of this is revealing the inner workings of your computer. There is nothing worse that arriving at a church five minutes before a service and watching someone wrestle with Windows on the big screen. The kit should be up and running 30 minutes before a service and displaying a welcome screen. At no point during a service should a congregation become aware that a computer is driving the projector. Only in the direst emergency should you switch out of projection mode, and if you have to do so then freeze or blank the screen before doing so. In your presentations include blank ‘holding’ slides that keep a default image on the screen when it is not being used.

8. You shall not steal …

Be very aware of copyright. The CCLI scheme allows you to display the words of a lot of hymns, but not all, so be careful. It is easy to download images from the internet or transfer films from video or DVD, but have the providers given their permission for their material to be used in this way? Using other people’s material without their permission is stealing and so as Christians we should not be doing it.

9. You shall not give false testimony …

It is easier to lie than you think. Ensure not only that all your words are truthful, but also be very careful how you combine words and images as it is all too easy to make pictures lie.

10. You shall not covet …

Every church is different. Do not envy what is being done round the corner, but use what you have to the best of your ability. One village church I visited was making very effective use of a blackboard and coloured chalks!

FOR FURTHER READING

Using Technology in Worship (Mark Pengelly: The Methodist Church)

Beyond the OHP: A practical guide to using technology in worship (Jackie Sheppard: Spring Harvest)

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