Designing Slides for Christmas

by Paul Clifford

I realize that for some, talking about Christmas may seem too soon, but for some of us the Christmas series at church has already started. For others, there are still a few weeks to go.

I thought I’d talk about some things to consider from the last twelve years of doing video in my church.

Consider who your audience is and what their purpose is.

Everything else should flow from that. If you’re creating slides for the kids’ program, they’ll be very different than if you’re creating them for the seniors, or for the church generally.

Consider what other elements your slides should interact with.

If your church is doing a series based on The Grinch Who Stole Christmas, that’s totally different than if you’re doing a series with the theme “An Olde Fashioned Christmas.”

Consider talking to other visual artist at your church about their ideas.

If you have a stage designer or lighting designer, they might have some ideas that can help you with what you’re doing. You’re on the same team, try and play off each other.

Consider the music.

I’d create a totally different background and use a different font for music from Twisted Sister’s “A Twisted Christmas” than for songs by Bing Crosby. Songs by Toby Mac require a different feel than songs by Kutless. A grungy background and font would work for some and not others.

Consider legibility.

It’s tempting to use a script font at Christmas. Sometimes, words are incidental and used just to reinforce a song performed by the band. In this case, if someone misses a word or two, it might not be a big deal. If the words are central to what’s going on, as in a scripture reading or during worship, it’s better to err on the side of legibility. I sometimes take off my glasses while sitting in the back to see how legible a slide is. If your vision is horrible, this might not work, but consider that not everyone has had their prescription updated as recently as they should have.

Consider your color selection.

Red and green are the traditional colors, but the hue you choose, even if you stick with them, can say things you might not have intended. Green can also mean money or electronics. If you’re trying to talk about commercialism, that might be something you can play on. If it’s unintended, that could be a problem.

Consider the imagery you use.

I picked the picture that I did for this post because I thought it was fun and because it’s not one that I’d choose for most Christmas services. It might be useful for a funny point in the message, but with the words to “Silent Night” or “Away in a Manger” on it, you might have a revolt on your hands.

Consider your church’s overall feel.

What is perfectly appropriate in my church would have gotten me kicked out of the church I grew up in. What’s fine in more traditional churches might be considered predictable in more edgy churches. Try not to shock for shock’s sake and try not to stick with what worked the last few years either.

Consider what meaning you can add.

You might need to run any ideas you have like this past the pastor or other leaders, but if you can bring out meaning in the Christmas story, it might be appropriate to do so. Some churches were shocked by the picture of a pregnant stomach with a piercing a few years ago; others thought it made Mary seem more human and it reminded them how young she probably was. In some contexts, ideas like this might help, just be careful.

Consider where you can take one step toward the unexpected.

Baby Jesus grew into the Lord Jesus who sacrificed Himself for us. Is there a way to subtly show that? Maybe the manger has subtle crosses. Maybe the straw is arranged to almost look like a crown of thorns. What ideas can you use to remind people that this season isn’t about presents and stress, but peace and love? Try taking one small step in that direction and see what happens.

What ideas do you have for making this year’s Christmas unforgettable at your church?