9 Ways to Spice Up Your Pre-Service Slideshow

Think about the last time you went to the movie theater.

Do you remember what was playing on the screen before the movie started?

Movie trivia (along with a few advertisements and reminders to turn off your cell phone and go buy popcorn).


It’s a genius idea, really. They keep you from feeling bored by showing you a steady rotation of questions and answers mixed in with random statistics, advertisements, and reminders. And it’s actually pretty engaging.

What about your pre-service slideshow?

If you don’t have a pre-service slideshow, you definitely need one. Sure, a few of your students show up a few minutes late on a typical Wednesday night or Sunday morning (just like people show up late to movies), but plenty of them are there early.

What do you have going on for those early birds?

I’ve heard of different ministries setting up Corn Hole, using video game stations, and serving snacks before the program starts. Those can all be good things. But I think you’re missing out if you don’t create an awesome pre-service slideshow too.


A good slideshow can spark conversation, create engagement, and build awareness before your service even starts.

But that will only happen if you include the right things. Most of the youth pastors that I talk with just put their logo on the screen and wait for the program to start. I want to challenge you to do more than that.

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9 Ways to Spice Up Your Pre-Service Slideshow

1. Trivia

I have almost 200 trivia games that I’ve either created myself or purchased from Download Youth Ministry. Some are better than others, but I hate using them only once. This is a solution for that. Simply add a few old trivia questions to your slideshow and you’ll get students guessing the answers and talking with each other.


2. Student Spotlight

I took this idea from what Justin Knowles does at his church. Honestly, I’m shocked at how many of my students don’t know even each other’s names. They’re around each other almost every week. We’re expecting them to have legit, honest conversations about the deepest parts of their lives. And yet…they don’t even know each other. Including several students in the slideshow is a way to help form connections among your students.

Screen Shot 2016-01-28 at 5.55.24 PM

3. Volunteer Spotlight

This is a spin-off from the student spotlight. Again, I would bet that some of your students don’t know even some of your volunteers’ names. That’s how it is at my church. We even have students who don’t even know their small group leaders’ names. That’s not supposed to happen, but now they would feel embarrassed to ask! Make a slide with a volunteer’s picture and a few fun facts, and put it in your pre-service slideshow.

4. Songs for Today

If you want your students to sing, they have to know the songs. So many students used to come up to me after our program to ask the name of a song we played or sung. That’s why I decided to include the songs and artists in the slideshow. As an added benefit, several students will download those songs and listen during the week. Then they’re able to engage on a deeper level when we sing them again.

Songs for Today

5. Scripture for Today

I know all about the idea that good presentations keep people in suspense. And there’s a lot of truth to that. You don’t want to give away the plot before the show starts. But let’s be honest: Most of your students aren’t reading the Bible regularly. I doubt your message will be ruined if you give them a preview of the text you’ll be talking about. Before the service starts is a great time to let them in on where your message is going when you get up to speak. Plus, if they actually read through it ahead of time, it’ll stick with them longer after they’ve heard you talk about it.

Scripture for Today

6. Bottom Line for Today

The same thing applies here. Repetition is the key to learning. It might be clever to keep your students in the dark about the bottom line for your message, but your goal isn’t to be clever; your goal is to be clear and help them learn. For that reason, I put the bottom line on the screen before the program starts. When I say it during the message, I don’t want it to be the first time they’ve heard it.


7. Event Announcements

You definitely want to advertise for the events that are coming up in your ministry. Better still, when you’re walking around before your program starts and the event slide comes up on the screen, mention it to a student. Ask them, “Hey, do you see that? (Pointing to the slide.) Are you coming? Who are you bringing?” Guys always complain to me about how many students and parents don’t seem to know what’s going on the ministry. Here’s an easy conversation-starter that will help you deal with that problem.


8. Social Media Info

Students are on social media. All the time. If you want to keep them in the loop, you’ve got to get them to follow your ministry. Don’t be shy about it either. Put a slide up and tell them to follow you. They will.

follow us

9. Ministry Logo

Last, but not least, you want to include your ministry logo in the slideshow because you always want to create more brand awareness.


Your Move

If you’re ready to spice up your pre-service slideshow, then it’s time to include these 9 things.

I use Pro Presenter, and it’s very simple to do this. Just add your slides and make each one advance after 10 seconds. Click on the last slide and click the box to loop to the first slide. It’s that simple.

These 9 slides will help you spark conversations, create engagement, and build awareness in your ministry before your program even starts.

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Trevor Hamaker (DMin, McAfee School of Theology) is an author, adjunct professor, and youth ministry coach. He helps youth pastors see their potential, develop their skills, and reach their goals.

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