Livestream | Video Conference | Design, Train, Install

Designing an On Line Service PART-2


In this blog I will discuss designing an Order of Service for an on-line Church Service. We will use a design template that is available for download at the end of the blog.

In PART 1 of this blog series, we looked at analyzing a traditional Order of Service to provide a backdrop that we can modify for use on-line. We examined how this document can be enhanced to serve both a “live” and “online” audience.

A traditional Order of Service displays a series of headings, which describe the action in the service. This time-tested method has been refined over many years to contain enough information to allow the music leader, verse readers, technical people and Minister(s) to produce a cohesive church service.

The congregation seated In the sanctuary takes cues to foreshadow what is about to happen. These come from people movements, musical cues, visual presentation cues, and Minister instruction. This is generally described as the “ambience” of the service because non-verbal visual cues make up such a large part of the action.

An online service lacks “ambience”. It is a “view of the world” through the lens of a camera, which is a flat 2-dimensional image lacking in presence, wide field of view and non-verbal cues. To compensate we need to provide visual/audio cues that foreshadow the action, evoke a sense of belonging, and are visually pleasing.

We organize this into a broadcast script that describes the action and supporting visuals for our on-line church service. This script is in the form of a 4 column MS Word template (see below). The form shows a typical service in a Protestant church modified for on-line viewing.

Church LiveCast Template

Our design tool displays:

  • Column 1 - Reference Number for the Action in column 3.
  • Column 2 – Time base so we can plan the length of the service and live stream.
  • Column 3 – The action which is also the Order of Service
  • Column 4 – Visuals and Slide numbers. This describes the action and relates it to the presentation software.

The script is designed to create a seamless execution of the church service and encourage a “sense of belonging” from the viewer. Let’s look at how this is accomplished.

  • 09:45 – Start the live stream. The timing is intentional to provide a time before the service to inform people about the church and the upcoming service. We also set out some guidelines for donations, church hours of operation, communion preparation, etc. The idea is to provide a point-of-contact for the congregation. This can be done with a looping video that contains slides and background music. In Part 3 of this series, I will look creating these videos using PowerPoint or Keynote software.
  • 09:55 – Count Down to Service. We use a simple countdown clock displayed over top of our looping video to let people know the service is about to start. This is also a good time to remind people of bible verses, topic of the Sermon, Special Items in the service and Communion preparation. Here are instructions to implement a countdown timer in Powerpoint.
  • NOTE: please notice that the looping videos are actually embedded into a slide in Powerpoint. This slide is numbered in the Visuals column. You should set the video to loop, and to play automatically when the slide is displayed.
  • 10:00 – Welcome to the Service. This is an important event – you need to catch the attention of the viewer to stay with you through the service. This is often when people leave to go to other online services. One method has the Minister deliver an energetic “welcome pitch” that welcomes everybody and states what is going to happen in the Service … “don’t miss today’s sermon as we talk about “parenting”, and we have some great worship music with …. You get the idea.
  • 10:05 – The worship leader begins. Overlay lyrics for the hymns on top of a general wide view of the choir or worship team. Lyrics look best as block type, white in colour, 2-3 lines max. displayed on the lower third of the screen. Use Powerpoint and keying software to make this happen. I would stay away from moving backgrounds and any items that distract from the lyrics and worship. These look nice in the Sanctuary but complicate the Live Stream.
  • 10:25 – Offering and announcements. Consider doing a video clip containing your announcements. This puts a “face” on the item and not just a text title. Always take time to talk about how to donate online, don’t be shy on this point. I will talk more about this in PART 3 of this blog series. When the offering is being taken up in the Sanctuary, have the Minister talk directly to the Online Audience about participating in Church Life and supporting the ministry.
  • 10:35 – Sermon . Keep slides for bible verses and points simple. White text on black background is most effective. Don’t use Picture in Picture effects, they don’t work well in these situations. To display a textual slide for the correct time, read it fully before taking it down. Don’t use any whiz bang effects in Powerpoint such as spinning titles, appearing text, looping transitions etc. These are distracting online – focus on the speaker and the content of the message. Remember, the presentation software is for reference only so keep it simple and speak with authority.
  • 11:00 Closing Hymn, 11:05 Dismissal, are self-explanatory.
  • 11:15 End of Stream. This is an important item. You want a closing video loop that informs about the church, asks for donations, and features people and families as the main visual background. Done right this video loop will leave a lasting positive memory of the church service.

In PART 3 of this series I will give some Pro Tips on constructing PowerPoint presentations, developing videos for the intro and extro parts of the service, and camera, lighting and audio tips.

DOWNLOAD a Word Template for this script – Church Online Service Template