Communications

How to Communicate with Your Worship Keyboardist

Common terminology

My goal in this is to give you and your keyboardist a common terminology so that you can communicate more effectively, identify what sounds you want and produce a well designed performance that evokes powerful emotions and connections in your church community.

1. The “warm” sound

The first word I want to address is the word “warm.” Stuff is called warm all the time but it's hard to quantify what that means. 

A warm sound is a pad that has this nice low-mid energy. It's not getting in the way, it's not sitting on top of what the electric guitars, vocals, bass or the kick drum might be doing. It's serving as a foundation underneath everything.

It doesn't have any of that bright sizzle on top that can distract from quieter moments. Instead, it adds a feeling of connectedness and intimacy. 

Protip: One of the really important things about finding a warm a pad is to make sure it's not too static. You want there to still be some motion and energy–what we call a little bit of modulation.

Check out the example below to hear what I’m talking about.

Listen to the warm sound

2. The “bright” sound

Next, let's talk about the bright sound. This is the opposite side of the warm sound. 

When I think of bright, we're talking about stuff in the higher frequency spectrum that's actually maybe above or right alongside what the guitars are doing. That has a lot of energy on the top end that's perceived as more aggressive, more powerful and it's more complex harmonically. You might still be playing in the same range on the keyboard but there are harmonic frequencies on top of it that add a little bit of extra energy.

Oftentimes with these bright synth pad sounds, you're still serving as the foundation to the mix, holding everything else together, but you're able to dynamically lift as your drummer switches to the high hat or starts washing out cymbals and as your electric guitarists start playing with more intensity. This increase in brightness from the pad goes right along with that; still serving as the foundation but rising as everyone does too. 

Listen to the bright sound

3. The “shimmer” pad

Lastly, let's talk about the most overused buzzword right now in the worship space–the shimmer pad.

You can have a shimmery texture or quality to your pad sounds which does something really specific in the mix, but it's really easy to overuse this kind of effect and overwhelm what your vocalist or your guitarist is doing.

It’s still worth using, but you have to make sure that you clarify why you're using this type of sound and where this type of pad sound actually sits in the mix.

Check out the example below to hear the proper balance that doesn’t overwhelm everything else.

Listen to the shimmer pad

Effects

Now let’s talk about how a couple simple effects from software like Mainstage or Ableton can greatly increase the quality of your music and make them sound more like today's top worship songs. 

1. Reverb effect

First off, I want to talk about reverb. If you're a guitarist, I'm sure you're probably familiar with the effect that reverb can have. You can use it on keys in the same way.

Reverb adds a sense of size, depth and space to your sound. It can soften up the initial impression of what you're playing, create some room and increase the hang time of your chord. 

Listen to the reverb effect

2. Delay effect

Now, let's talk about delay. All the guitarists discovered delay in 2002, and keyboard players are just getting around to it now.

In the same way that you can change the character and the rhythmic complexity of an electric guitar with delay, you can achieve a lot of the same cool effects with piano.

This is commonly used on some slow songs where you'll hit a chord on the one, and let the delay trail sort of add that extra oomph to it. You can also use it when you're playing the piano as a lead instrument, to give you an extra bit of memorability to a bridge or something like that. 

In really powerful worship moments, it can also add more texture and make the piano sound a little bit more interesting. 

Listen to the delay effect

3. Shimmer effect

Lastly, I want to return to shimmer. We already talked about shimmer when it comes to a pad, but you can also apply shimmer as an effect to any sound that you have. 

When I’m playing the piano all I have to do is turn on the shimmer reverb. The shimmer will swell in behind what I'm doing and then swell back down. If I'm moving through chords, it's never overwhelming the initial playing, and it feels really organic and natural.

It's a really great effect to give your keys players because it's got a nice production value element to it, it adds an ethereal ambience and it doesn't require a lot of theory knowledge to use. As long as you're not overplaying, it's going to make you sound like you know what you're doing.

Listen to the shimmer sound

Recap

So those are six fundamental terms for you and your keyboardist. My hope is that it empowers both of you to create a powerful experience for the people you’re leading. 

If you want to take the next step with this training and dive deep into equipping and empowering the keyboardist in your worship band, then check out Worship Leader School. David has created an entire masterclass exclusively for members that will:

✅Give you a deep dive into the effects that we touched on today.

✅ Show you an in-depth tour of all the gear and software for this setup.

✅Explain how to communicate and work alongside your keyboard player so you have smooth transitions in worship

I’d love to chat about how this class can help you grow as a worship leader. 

Feel free to setup a call here.

Talk soon.

How to build a church website with Squarespace

The ultimate video guide to building a church website with Squarespace.

Zero web design experience required.

Welcome to the most thorough online course on church web design you will ever find on the web. I've spent countless hours filming this click-by-click tutorial so that anyone can build a beautiful and effective church website regardless of their web design experience. All you need is a laptop or desktop and a solid internet connection. No coding knowledge or experience required.

It is my strong conviction that 21st-century church leaders must understand how to build and maintain a website. Web design is no longer a niche skill for nerds who understand complicated coding. It's a fundamental aspect of modern communication. Your church website is the hub of your church's online presence. As a brick and mortar institution, your website will be the first interaction potential visitors have with your church before they bother visiting on a Sunday. For folks who are regulars at your church, your church website will be the place they go for relevant content and information regarding church life. Websites are no longer a luxury, but a necessity for churches in the 21st century.

I'm on a mission to rid the internet of lousy church websites. Sadly, the church generally lags behind the rest of the world when it comes to best practices in marketing. A lot of pastors shove the idea of marketing aside as too "worldly" because of its business-like nature. The fact of the matter is, marketing is about catching peoples attention and guiding them toward a goal or solution that will help them. For businesses, that means grabbing the attention of potential customers to influence them toward buying. In the church, our hope is to influence such a ways as to lead them to Christ. Sharing the gospel is marketing. The church has the most important marketing job in human history because we have the ultimate "product." Yet for some reason, pastors are complacent about their church's marketing approach and efforts.

In no other time in history has it been this easy to reach millions or billions of people with the gospel through online platforms. Whether we as church leaders like it or not, that's where people are spending all their time now. All of their attention is on the super computer that fits in their pocket. One of the most fundamental steps of engaging with an audience is having a place to call "home" online that is not controlled by the algorithms of social media. That's why your church website is so important. That's why it needs to be awesome.

If you are looking to build a new church website for your church plant, or maybe you want to completely redesign your existing church website, this free course is for you. In it, I will show you how to build a church website from scratch using Squarespace. I would argue that Squarespace is the best web design platform for churches, regardless of size. I know of many mega churches with mega budgets who have blown mega dollars on having a web design agency design their website. The user experience of these sites are horrible and I cannot imagine how many potential visitors these churches are mission out on because whoever designed them cared more about what looks cool rather than user experience best practices. I have 110% confidence that any church leader can build an amazing and effective website his or herself by following the steps outlined in this course. In it, I apply all of the best practices of web design to a local church context. Follow the steps outlined in this video and you will see an increase of first-time visitors at your church. When potentials visitors search Google for churches in your town, you will begin ranking toward the top of organic search results.

What are your waiting for? Let's get your new Squarespace website up and running in just a few minutes. Below I have outlined the different sections for quick navigation. Simply click the timecode links and they will bring you to the corresponding sections of the video.

Course outline And quick links

0:18 - Meet Jake! As well as the benefits of this course

 

3:00 - Course Overview

 

4:30 - Deer Creek Church: A Case Study

 

7:36 - Design Philosophy

 

11:23 - Examples of famous churches and their websites

 

13:19 - The website as an evangelistic tool

 

13:41 - Branding Content- Logos, Fonts, and Color Palette

 

17:21 - Professional Photos and Video on a Budget

 

21:28 - Stock Photography Resources

 

23:28 - Site Map

 

24:26 - Let’s do this!

 

24:55 - Select a template and sign up for a Squarespace account

 

26:36- How to login and logout of your Squarespace website

 

27:35 - Create a custom Squarespace domain

 

29:20 - Editing “General” Settings

 

31:36 - Editing “Website” Settings

 

34:43 - Website Logo and Title

 

36:25 - Introduction to the Style Editor

 

45:25 - Understanding Navigation

 

47:05 - Adding and Deleting Pages

 

47:56 - Deleting Demo Pages

 

49:47 - Creating Pages and Basic Site Navigation

 

55:18 - Adding a Banner Image and Video

 

58:50 - Adding a banner headline and Call to Action

 

1:04:35 - Worship times and location

 

1:11:41 - Purpose and Design Approach of the Plan a Visit page

 

1:12:18 - Building the Plan a Visit Page

 

1:29:14 - Leadership

 

1:37:17 - Beliefs

 

1:39:30 - Contact

 

1:48:21 - Ministries Page

 

1:51:38 - Serve Page

 

1:54:32 - Life Groups Page

 

1:57:44 - Hosting your sermon audio with Soundcloud

 

2:05:21 - Creating a Sermon podcast on iTunes

 

2:13:32 - Creating a Sermon podcast on Google Play

 

2:17:14 - Events Page

 

2:20:52 - Giving Page

 

2:24:24 - Cover Pages

 

2:31:47 - Upgrading your billing plan

 

2:33:00 - Link your primary domain

 

2:35:00 - Squarespace Support

 

2:36:03 - Optimize URL settings

 

2:37:13 - Announcement Bar

 

2:39:06 - Third-party Squarespace plugins

How to build a church website in less than five minutes

Would you believe me if said you can build a brand new church website in less than five minutes? In a few moments, that is what I want to show you. Of course it is not going to be a complete church website, but it will be functional. I have built dozens of websites using Squarespace. It is the best website builder for churches because of it’s ease of use, beautiful design, and low cost. I want to show you how quick and easy it is to start building your own website with Squarespace. All you need is a laptop or desktop and a solid internet connection. Here are 3 steps to building your church website in less than 5 minutes.

Step 1 - Go to squarespace.com and select your website template

Find a desktop or laptop computer. Go to squarespace.com and click the “get started” button. Here you can browse a list of template options for your websites. The best templates for church websites are Bedford or Hayden. Select your template and follow the steps to setup your free Squarespace account. In less than a minute you have a fully functioning site. There is a lot of customization work to be done, but at this point, the site could go live if you enable your Squarespace subscription. It is insane how easy and quick it is to do this.

Step 2 - Create your custom Squarespace domain

Before you start customizing your site, create a custom Squarespace domain, so you have a memorable url to navigate to while building your new site. Click “settings,” “domains,” and customize your built-in domain by replacing the auto-generated name with your church name. To log out of your site, navigate to your account profile and select log out. To log back into your site, navigate to your custom Squarespace domain and press the escape key.

Step 3 - Customize your website

By now you are beginning to learn how easy it is to work within Squarespace. On the left side of the window, you can add or delete pages, change the graphic design, and customize other settings. I recommend spending a few minutes watching tutorial videos at support.squarespace.com. There you will the learn the basics of how the website builder works. Try uploading your church logo to the new site by selecting “design” then “title and logo.” Next, delete all of the demo pages you won’t be needing by navigating to pages and selecting the trash can icon. Add a custom banner image and a headline to your home page. Finally, underneath the banner add your service times and a map of your church.

What you've seen in this brief demonstration is why I love Squarespace. I did not have to know any code, and it took just a few minutes to get the basics of church website up and running. Realistically it takes a day or two to input all of the relevant content into your new website and have it be fully functioning, but there is no need to hire a professional web designer or developer to do this. Do not underestimate your ability to build and maintain a website. What is keeping you from building your new church website with Squarespace? What questions do you have about creating a church website? Let me know in the comments below.

The best website builder for churches

A few years ago, building a website meant finding and hiring a professional web developer to get the job done. It could cost thousands or tens of thousands of dollars and making any changes or updates to the site construction would be burdensome and costly. If you were in the market to build a new website for your church, then this was intimidating and frustrating.

Today in 2017, things are a lot different. Website builders have come a long way. Building your own website has never been easier. No longer does your church need to lay down a huge chunk of cash and wait months for a new outsourced website. Now you can have a new website up and running in less than 10 minutes. 

My number one recommendation for building a church website is Squarespace. I have been designing websites with Squarespace for over 5 years. I am continually blown away with how easy they make it to create a professional website that meets all of the latest design trends. A lot of website builder companies have come and gone. There are even companies dedicated to being website builders for the church. Unfortunately, their features pale in comparison to Squarespace. Over the past decade, Squarespace has proven itself as a business and dominates the website builder market. Here are 5 reasons why it is the best website builder for your church.

Reason #1 - Easy to use

I personally feel that every pastor needs to understand basic web design. It’s the modern day version of the printing press. If you consider yourself a communicator, you must understand how to build and maintain a website. Squarespace is perfect for this because you do not need to learn how to code. It is so intuitive that you could just learn as you go or simply spend a few minutes watching some basic tutorial videos. I always like to say, if you have the capability of logging into Gmail to check your email or Facebook to make a status update, then you have all the technical capability you need to build a website with Squarespace.

Reason #2 - Beautiful design

Squarespace dominates the website builder world when it comes to beautiful templates that meet all of the latest design trends. You never have to worry about whether or not your website is out of date because Squarespace does all the hard work to keep things fresh. They are regularly coming out with new templates and refining older ones. If you decide to update your template to a whole new look within Squarespace, it takes only a few minutes to accomplish.

Reason #3 - Automatic Mobile Optimization

All of Squarespace’s templates come with mobile optimization built in. You do not need to edit a separate version of your website in mobile. I would even argue that having a website on Squarespace completely eliminates the need for a church app since the user experience of Squarespace in mobile is better than most apps.

Reason #4 - Easy integration with ministry tools

If you need online giving, event registration, other forms on your website, Squarespace makes it extremely easy to do, especially if you use church management software like Planning Center. If you need to host sermons on your website, embedding your sermon podcast player or video player takes seconds.

Reason #5 - Low Cost

Churches should not skimp on their digital communications budget, but the reality is cost is always a factor. With Squarespace you have the most powerful website builder at an insanely low cost. Depending on the size of your site, a month-to-month subscription costs only $16-$26 a month. You do not pay any large setup fees and you can cancel at any time. If your church cannot afford that, you have some bigger issues to deal with.

I could go on about why Squarespace is the best website builder for your church, regardless of size. I have seen too many churches both large and small waste thousands of dollars outsourcing web development and ending up with sites that may look cool but they have terrible user experience. Do not waste your time and your church’s money. Build your church website using Squarespace.

P.S - This is not a paid endorsement of Squarespace. I am just passionate about churches making the right choice with their online communications. 

10 ingredients of an effective church website

Your website is the front door to your church. Before anyone visits your church on a Sunday, they are going to check out your site. Here are ten vital ingredients for building an effective church website. You can see an example of each of these ingredients being utilized by a site designed by Churchfront. Visit www.deercreekchurch.com.

Ingredient #1 - A homepage using the hero layout

The hero layout is characterized by a full-width banner image or video that fills up space on your home page above the fold. The “fold” is toward the bottom of the page before you start scrolling down. The imagery you use should be vibrant pictures or footage of your church community. This allows people to assess what type of community you are within seconds. The key is to show people in this imagery.

Ingredient #2 - A concise headline on the homepage describing who you are and how you can help

Concise headlines also help people understand who you are and how you can help them within seconds. Remember, you do not have their attention for long. The home page is not where you should be placing your church’s complete mission and vision statement. People do not have time to read that.

Ingredient #3 - One call to action

Assuming you want your website to encourage more first-time visitors, then create one call to action that says, “plan a visit.” Do not make “give” your call to action. When first-time visitors walk into the door of your church, do you immediately ask them to give? Of course not, but for some reasons many churches make this mistake by making the give button the primary call to action by putting it front or center and in the upper right-hand corner.

Ingredient #4 - Plan a visit page

Immediately upon someone visiting your site, you want to function as their guide. The best way to do this is to create a plan a visit page, which is linked to your call to action button on the home page. On this page, walk people through the process of where to park, how to check in kids, what they can expect in worship, and how they can get plugged in.

Ingredient #5 - Mobile-friendly design

This is obvious, but I still see church websites that are not mobile-friendly. About 70% of internet traffic is mobile. Make sure your site is mobile optimized. An easy way to tell is your top navigation collapses into a hamburger menu, and everything scales to the proper size and layout so your text and graphics are still easy to read.

Ingredient #6 - Less information

Less is more with website design, especially on your home page. You only have seconds to communicate the vital information people need to visit your church. When they see paragraphs of texts or dozens of photos, they are immediately going to check out and watch funny cat videos on Youtube. Those are way more interesting than an overloaded church website.

Ingredient #7 - Simple navigation

Keep your navigation simple. There shouldn’t be more than 6 or 7 items in the top layer or your header navigation, and you do not need a billion items in your dropdown folder. These are a pain to navigate in mobile. If you have a bunch of ministries in your church, create one page for ministries and on that page create links to individual ministries, rather than listing them all in your navigation.

Ingredient #8 - An excellent leadership page

A lot of people will visit your leadership page. Have some professional but casual photos of your church staff. You can also include brief bios. In all of the church websites I have designed, the leadership page is one of the top most trafficked pages. People want to know who they have to listen to for an hour on Sunday and who is going to take care of their kids. Make sure your leadership page makes a good first impression.

Ingredient #9 - Easy access to sermons

Another highly-trafficked page is the sermon page. Whether it’s your congregation wanting to listen to a sermon they missed or potential new visitors wanting to preview sermons, you must make it easy for them to quickly navigate to your sermon media. Include links to your podcast feeds so they can subscribe.

Ingredient #10 - Online giving integration

This is another feature that’s vital on your website for people attending your church. Most giving platforms easy integrate into your website. I love giving interfaces like Planning Center and PushPay because they are easy-to-use, mobile optimized, and only take seconds to setup a one-time or recurring gift.

What else would you add to this list of ingredients for an effective church website? Let me know in the comments below.