Canva: A Big Help For Graphics

24 06 2015

ImadeThis On CanvaMaking our own slides, posters, flyers, bulletin graphics etcetera can be daunting. Photoshop is usually too high powered for what we want to do or just too expensive for a small church to purchase.

Searching Google images and then trying to secure permission for graphics that really don’t fit our message is “striving after the wind.” Wouldn’t it be nice to have an easy to use, powerful enough, inexpensive, modern looking way to produce various graphics? Well there is a good online service that is offers all of this and more.

Canva is a website that has hundreds of great templates, Typography designs, images and backgrounds many are free, some are just one US dollar. The designs are flexible in that you can change fonts, colors, backgrounds to most of the templates. You can start from scratch and design just about any kind of graphic you need.

Have you ever wanted to customize your Facebook header? Canva has templates that are perfect pixel size. How often do you want to upload a graphic to Instagram but can’t remember the pixel size needed so it looks right? Nearly every social media there is allows customization but expects you to make your graphics a specific size to fit. Canva has figured that out for you and provided templates that are ready to go, just add your pics, or select one from the thousands for sale $1.00 on Canva’s site. When you have finished your wording and tweaking download it to your computer and “Bob’s your uncle” it’s yours to post anywhere anytime from now on!

Canva even offers online training in graphic design. If you need inspiration for new ways to create and use graphics they will provide great examples of good design from various places on the Internet.

I made the bar graphic on the side in less than 45 seconds. Imagine what you could do if you were really trying! Your church is going to be happy you found this site if  you start using it for your graphic media projects!

Joe Chase


A Great Time Saver TextExpander

23 09 2014

I use an online Bible program.  Many times I will copy a passage of Scripture hoping to paste it

TextExpander snippet

TextExpander snippet

into Microsoft Word and the standard “cmd v” will not work. That means going to the edit menu, selecting “Edit” then scrolling to “Paste Special,” that brings up a menu box that gives you the option to “paste plain text.”  Do that 20 or thirty times as you prepare a sermon outline, then the PowerPoint slides and that adds up to hundreds of mouse clicks, and typing.

Well to the rescue is a TextExpander snippet that bypasses all those pesky mouse travels, clicks and typing.  I can instead type ptp and TextExpander will paste the clipboard contents in the style the document is currently using. This is so simple to set up and use that I wish I had known about this 30 years ago when I was in Preacher Training School and college.

The snippet uses TextExpander’s %clipboard command.  You can assign the hotkey abbreviation to whatever you choose.  I will be using this snippet hundreds of times this month alone.  Here is a screen shot of the TextExpander window with the assigned snippet and the abbreviation.

What great timesaving tips can you share?  Do you have an app that you couldn’t make it through the day without using? Tell me about it.

A Free Tool

17 07 2013

I hate retyping things I’ve typed before. I have many, many notebooks from my Preaching School and College days. I have even more hand typed sermons I’ve written over the years. I’d love to have them search ready in my Evernote or Google Drive.

So, lately I’ve been scanning notebooks into PDF format. I then upload them to a free service that recognizes the text for free or very low cost if you are scanning mountains of text. It can cost as low as 4 pennies per sheet if you buy enough credits.

I’ve found the service is accurate most of the time. Some of the older papers have stains and such that interfere so I might have to go back in fix a few words here and there before saving the document in Word Format.

Now all those notes and old sermons are ready to be manipulated, copied, pasted and tweeked into useable text for use again. And most of it done with just a mouse and very little typing again. will give you several pages of free scans delivered to your mailbox or downloadable upon completion. This is a great tool for those of us who have little if any secretary support. Give it a try.

Working With Church Staff

23 04 2013

Seems the world of technology made many changes to the way we produce our song listsgetting_along-290-219   Used to be we would just have to put our numbers up on the board at the front of the auditorium.  Then we started making worship programs that listed the songs and the order of worship.  Now we have to put together projection slides and maybe even notate a song in notation software, save it in the proper format so it can become a slide that looks like all the others.

Timing has become much more crucial as we have to be prepared much more advance than ever before.  Often we don’t have to depend just on our own work getting done.  Other team members need our songs and verses and prayers and readings and sermon outlines well in advance of the service.  It is just impolite to make a secretary wait for your songlist so she can prepare the Order of Worship.  The projection team deserves our attention too so they can be well prepared before the assembly.

As worship leaders we might have to pressure the preacher a few weeks in advance for sermon topics, themes and scriptures.  Cultivate a good relationship so you both work in harmony.  It’s a great idea to pray over the Sermon Calendar with him.  He will probably have a few songs in mind for each sermon too.  It makes the preacher feel special when you use his suggestions.  Its always a good idea to have the preacher or worship committee review your OOW (Order of Worship) to make certain you are all thinking the same way.

Have regular training sessions with volunteers.  If your people don’t know how to work equipment or software you are planning for disaster.  Keep a copy of all manuals, SOPs and needed information accessible to everyone who might need it in the heat of failure.  Reward good workers with encouraging words and treat them with a lunch or coffee date just to let them know how important they are to the over all ministry.

Help others to help you.  If you have someone who can do what you do it is not a threat.  It is a valuable asset.  Solicit help with maintenance of equipment, production of presentations song slides or anything else that might help free you up to do something else that no one else knows how to do.

Foster learning.  Use every opportunity to inspire new talent and new ministers (every Christian is a minister).  True leaders replicate themselves to develop a depth of talent for every job that needs to be done.

Be ready at all times to humble yourself.  There are going to be times when hard feelings will arise.  Sometimes it will be our own doing and sometimes not.  If you are willing to be kind and humble in dealing with those who perceive a slight it will go a long way to paving the way for Christian unity. Don’t compromise truth but do encourage kindness to all.

Never think because you are the guy in charge that you are too important to do the grunt work.  Leaders will almost always be called to do things that seem menial or mundane.  (Straightening the song books in the pew, cleaning equipment etc.) Do those jobs with as much joy as the ones you really enjoy.  It will pay off in the long run.

What are some struggles you have with church staff or getting things done.  Share your solutions.

Two Big Helps For Ministry

29 05 2012

There are two handy apps that have helped my prayer life and devotional times. I hate lugging things around. The fewer things I have to carry the happier I am. I also find that my mind is getting less able to remember all those things and people I need to pray about.

I really love Evernote for making prayer lists. I can have them with me anytime I have my iPhone or iPad. It makes it easy to update the list when someone asks for prayer. I can share those lists via email or a shared folder online. It’s great to have a place for all our elders and deacons to be able to upload information on answers and visits made.

My old large print Bible weighs a few pounds and takes up a lot of room in my backpack/briefcase. Now it is only as large as my iPhone or iPad that I carry almost everywhere. If I am waiting for my wife to finish shopping or sitting in the waiting room at the hospital I can always have my Bible to read. Sometimes I’ll think of a passage but can’t recall where it is found. YouVersion is snappy in its search features.

If you are like me and need access to your Bible always and take notes about your readings or prepare devotional thoughts do yourself a favor and use these two free tools.

Tips for Leading A Capella Worship

27 09 2011

Becoming a successful worship leader is an ongoing process of learning what helps and what hinders people worshipping God. Getting ourselves out of the way people seeing God yet leading them at the same time is quite difficult sometimes.

Here are a few things I’ve learned over the years that have worked for me, hopefully they will aid you in your pursuit.

  • Your heart is your instrument. Pure hearts help. Sinful hearts hinder. Be sure you are right with God so you can come into His presence ready for worship.
  • Your face is your conductor’s baton. Develop strong facial and head movements that indicate starting, stopping, breathing and holding sustained notes. I was amazed the first time I witnessed a leader who lead with his head and face. He showed every pick-up, cut-off, start, held note and the emotion of the songs all with his head bobs and facial expressions.
  • Work on your transitions from song to song as much as you do the songs. Don’t take people out of the worship experience to some other place between every song or prayer. Flow is important for keeping us in the throne room of God.
  • Sing familiar songs often. I love new songs and enjoy sight singing. That makes me part of a small group of music nerds. If people have to concentrate on the mechanics of the music they won’t be fully engaged in worship. Use new songs at appropriate times.
  • Commend the congregation for good worship. Compliment well worded prayers, good sermons, well sung songs, and worship that is done well.
  • Listen to criticism. Not all criticism is constructive but you should listen to it, consider it and the source then either discard it or apply it.
  • Take care of your voice. Singers and speakers should learn to use their voices without strain or poor muscle control.
  • Lead outside the assembly. Take your talents to other places. Lead singing at a nursing home, small church, home bible study, where ever you can use your gift to bring people into the presence of God.
  • Record yourself leading, either video or audio often and watch it. You will be surprised at how many things you’re doing well and you will notice some things you will want to change.
  • Ask people who love you what you can do to be better. Be ready for some things that might surprise you or may even hurt your ego a bit.
  • Pray for yourself often, get others to pray for you too.

Do you have some tips you’ve discovered that might help other worship leaders?  Why not share some with us.

Joe Chase

Introducing New Songs

20 09 2011

Worship ought to be expressed in fresh words new melodies in each generation.  There is certainly no reason to abandon old songs just because they are old.  It is a challenge to bring new songs to the church.  Often people resist them because they cannot yet sing them.  Bringing fresh songs to the worship time must be done carefully.

There is something about having to concentrate on learning the music that detracts from our ability to fully worship.  So you don’t want to have too many unfamiliar songs in one setting.  People will stop worshiping to learn.  You can get by with a new song in the service if you work it in to a grouping of familiar ones.

As a worship leader in an a capella assembly you can’t depend on instruments to carry the melody and harmony for you.  To overcome that challenge you have to teach the song to at least one person per part who can carry the parts while you lead the melody.   Better yet get a group together at sometime other than the assembly to teach the song to a larger group that can carry the parts in the assembly.

When teaching a new song to a group in a smaller session I do the following things.

  1. Seat singers in parts.
  2. Everyone listen to the melody a few times, while they read through the sheet music.
  3. Everyone sing the melody until they have a feeling of how the song goes.  (Most harmony singers will already have a feel for where there part will fit with the melody).
  4. Have one or two people sing the melody while you teach all the males the Bass part.
  5. Have a couple people sing melody while all males sing the Tenor part.
  6. Repeat this with the alto parts.
  7. Now try to put all the parts together.

This format really helps singers to get to know the song.  This group can then help you in the assembly teach the song to the entire body.

Another helpful way is to get a group together to record the song and make it available to the congregation.  Learning CD’s of several new songs can be a great help to the church.  It is getting less expensive all the time to record.  When making learning CD’s it is a good idea to pan Soprano and Tenor hard Right and the Alto Bass hard left.  This allows easy isolation of each part.  Be sure your recording is accurate to the sheet music or you will have to reteach parts.

Once you’ve introduced a new song to your congregation repeat it often.  It is really a good idea to repeat it at least twice in the first service it is introduced.  Use it several times in the following weeks so people begin to recognize it and can start singing without having to concentrate on learning the music and word.

Joe Chase