Thursday, January 29, 2009

Create better slides using "The Rule of Thirds"

One of the biggest issues I see with PowerPoint presentations is that many of the slides are crowded and out of balance. Often times images are even distorted to try to make enough room for the title and the five, full sentence bullet points that need to be squeezed onto the screen. The first improvement to be made is to reduce the amount of material on each slide. The second improvement to make is to learn to use "The Rule of Thirds" to balance the visuals (text and graphics) an the slide.

"The Rule of Thirds" and how to use it.
Graphic designers and photographers use "the rule of thirds" to create balance and focus attention. Basically, you divide the space (in this case your slide) into equal thirds horizontally and vertically. It's really like drawing a tic-tac-toe board on your slide. Then place the main elements of your image along the lines of the grid. 
Obviously you don't leave the grid on your slide it is just a visual reference, but the viewer's eye will naturally go to the area of the image where the lines intersect. These "hotspots" become the perfect place to place text or focus attention. Note the example of the family walking on the beach. Placing the main elements (the family) along the line on the right give the image a 
natural balance and creates interest. 

You have to be careful not to clutter up the open space with text, but you can strategically place text at a "hotspot" to give it attention but maintain balance in the slide. Note the placement of the text in the lightbulb image and well as where the lit bulb falls. The slide is balanced, easy to read and tells a story. That's what we are after.

Balancing text and images
There are times when you need enough space for more text. By the never need enough space for five, full sentence bullets, but you may have a passage of Scripture that you want to include on the slide for clarity sake. You can still use the rule of thirds to help. Note the slide with the image of Christ and the quote from Romans 5. It stays balanced because the image and the text are placed evenly on the grid set up by the rule of thirds.

Final thoughts
Using the rule of thirds can make an immediate improvement on your slides. If you strive to create balance and remove clutter and your slides will have more impact and communicate more clearly. Give the rule of thirds a try...once you do there is no going back.

Monday, January 19, 2009

The Power of Facebook in ministry

Facebook has been around for quite awhile now, but has recently surged in popularity. For those not aware of it, Facebook is a "social networking" website. Once you start an account (it's free by the way), you can connect with other "friends" on Facebook and stay in touch. I must say that I tried it just as an experiment at first. I knew that my teenage daughter would approach me at some point about it and I wanted to be aware of how it worked and what is was about. I figured that as an "old guy" I would not connect with many "friends" (20-03 or so was my guess, tops) but I thought it would be worth playing with. Well I just broke 200 friends and I am finding more people all the time.

So what does this have to do with ministry?

First, connecting with people is what ministry is really all about. Some of my Christian friends have posted very encouraging notes on my "wall." (NOTE - once you accept someone as your friend, they can write on your "wall" - this is a place in your profile to leave you notes and stay in touch). Others have written short articles to teach and encourage others about their Christian walk. All of this is ministry!

Secondly, you can connect people together and inform them about a specific need. We have a good friend, Hannah Duke, who is seriously ill. This young 14-year-old woman needs our prayers - that is where Facebook came in. Facebook allows users to create interest "groups" and then invite your friends to join the group. Once you join the group you can write on the group "wall" and the Administrators of the group can post updates and information as needed. One of Hannah's teen Facebook friends started a Facebook Group called "Prayers for Hannah" and invited all of her Facebook friends to join the group and offer prayers on Hannah's behalf. Hannah herself was invited, as was her family. To date, over 470 people have joined this group! Both Hannah and her family have been very encouraged by the notes left on the group wall and the number of people who are praying for them. That is ministry!

Thirdly, you can let people know about events and causes that need their attention. We have posted a group to help let people know about our annual lectureship. This year's theme is "More Than Conquerors: A Study in Joshua." To date more than 250 people have joined the group. Now I realize that doesn't mean that 250 are planning to attend the lectures, but a great many people now know about it! As more details about the lectureship are finalized we can update the group by simply posting this information on Facebook!

Here is another example - I have a good friend that is working on a church plant in the Tacoma, Washington area. He is looking for supporters and people interested in this work. He could create a Facebook group about the church plant. Show people pictures of the area, talk about why the church is so desperately needed in that part of the country. Give people a way to contact him or maybe even donate online using PayPal. Think of the connections that could be made. He may even be able to connect with people in the Tacoma area that want to be a part of this new congregation. That is ministry!

If we will just learn to look at some of these new technologies with spiritual eyes - we may see a world of new ways to teach, preach and edify. Brothers and sisters, THAT is ministry!

Michael Hite's Facebook profile

Monday, January 12, 2009

Ministry Tech class - midterm help

For those of you wise enough to be checking this blog on a regular basis, I have a holiday gift for you. The following are some tips, tricks and subjects that you will find on the mid-term exam to be given on Wednesday, Jan. 14 as a take home test. It will be due back to me by Monday, January 19. While I have not given you the answers here, I have given you a great head start in your studying for the test. I have provided links to training videos from Logos on some topics that might be helpful. Most of these training videos are only 2-5 minutes long and should provide excellent review. You might even learn something that I didn't cover.

  1. Review creating (or opening already created) Vocabulary lists and how to sort them by word frequency.
  2. Review how to create a Bible Reading Plan for a specific period of time (like a 13 week Bible class quarter for example).
  3. Understand the difference between Visual Filters and Visual Markup Styles (found in the View menu).
  4. Be sure to review how to run a Passage Guide and what is found in it.
  5. Be sure to review how to run an Exegetical Guide and what is found in it, especially in the word by word section. Remember that you can click on the small bar chart for each word to see more charts (you will need this).
  6. Be sure to review how to run a Bible Word Study for BOTH English words and Greek words. Pay special attention to the Translation section of the report for Greek words and what it tells you. Also, note that you can run a Greek Bible Word Study from an English Bible Word Study from within the Greek Root section of the report (hint: click and/or double click on Greek words that show up in this section of the report and see what they do.)
  7. Review the Basic Search (under the Search menu) and practice searching the Early Church Fathers collection we created for words or phrases.
  8. Review the Bible Search. Practice searching for individual words, multiple word phrases, and any combination of the two. Also be sure to limit your searches to specific sections, books or groups of books.
Check back...I will add more soon.