Advent Projections

In past issues, I’ve encouraged visual artists to involve themselves–because it’s unlikely that anyone is going to go out of their way to invite them–with the video projections your church may be planning for its worship services. Here are a couple of guidelines to make sure that these projections enhance worship instead of detract from it. I’ll use a series of Advent and Christmas visuals as examples.

But first, by video projection I am referring to what a lot of people incorrectly call PowerPoint. PowerPoint is a computer program published by Microsoft for creating and presenting electronic slides. It is not the projection machine. It is not a computer. It is also not the only product available (although it is certainly the most popular).

Nothing Out of Context

PowerPoint, and other programs like it, is capable of displaying static pages, yes, but also movement–allowing text and images to move across the screen, including true motion video. Just because you can, however, doesn’t mean you should. Whatever you do should be done within the context of the whole worship plan, the whole worship space. For example, if your worship leaders’ movements are carefully choreographed for a smooth-flowing liturgy, don’t send all kinds of flying images and text across the screen–especially since the projection screen has become the brightest and most prominent spot in many churches.

Craft with Consistency

The rules of good design that apply to any medium apply to worship projection as well. Early on, establish standards for color and type size and layout. Continue to tweak these standards for readability (above all!) and an overall style that fits the character of your worship. Not only will your fellow worshipers appreciate not being surprised by something totally new every Sunday, they’ll notice when you do make a deliberate change (like a new color for a change in the liturgical year). Also see p.8.

Digital Drama

To me stained glass is the perfect blend of form (or art) and function. For that reason a digital interpretation of this age-old art form appeals to me. I intentionally designed these projections so that the image does not fill the entire screen. Again, just because we can, doesn’t mean we should.


Download the images at left embedded within a PowerPoint file.

Download the pattern here. Note that this pattern is intended to be a general guide paint splotches or fabric pieces.

Dean Heetderks is a member of Covenant Christian Reformed Church in Cutlerville, Michigan, and art director of Reformed Worship. Show and tell him about your experiences at

Reformed Worship 73 © September 2004, Calvin Institute of Christian Worship. Used by permission.