Mark Twain said, “The difference between the almost right word and the right word is really a large matter—’tis the difference between the lightning-bug and the lightning.”
The same could be said for your church media. The right image can stop the scroll on social media or snap attention back to the message. So then, where do you find the right images—especially for significant times on the Church calendar like Lent, Ash Wednesday, and Maundy Thursday?
Read on for two approaches, plus their pros and cons, and smart ways to use the church media you find.
Option 1: Use free stock photo sources to search for church media
If you have no room in the budget for professional-quality church media, explore sites offering free stock photos. Look at the details for each image, as some images require attribution or limit use.
Top 3 free sources for church media
Here are the three best free stock photo sources, in my opinion, in order of preference:
It’s often possible to find an image you need on these free sites, especially if you rarely help with church media.
Pros of using free stock photo sources for church media
- They’re free!
- Some images are quite beautiful.
- There’s a lot of variety since there are so many contributors.
Cons of using free stock photo sources for church media
- Searching through hundreds or thousands of options is incredibly time-consuming. You might have to look at 300 duds to find a gem (if you can, in fact, find that gem).
Here’s one not-so-helpful image that comes up for Palm Sunday on Pexels, for instance:
2. They’re free! And sometimes, you really do get what you pay for. Free and paid images can be mixed together, too, so you can spot the perfect image—then find you need to pay for a license or have a subscription to download it.
3. The images aren’t created for churches, part of why it takes so long to find a photo you can actually use in church. 4. Many, if not most, don’t have room for you to overlay text.
5. Size options are quite limited. If you need to resize the image, it means using another program or downloading the image, changing the size, and resaving it.
Option 2: Use paid stock photo sources to find church media
I’d venture your time is worth at least $20/hour. So what would it be worth to save multiple hours every month—and still find the right images to represent your church well?
Those are the top reasons to consider not just a paid stock photo source but one created uniquely for churches. Here are others:
- More efficiency (and less frustration). Think about the difference between typing in “Palm Sunday” and finding a whole coordinating collection of images instantly—versus typing in “Palm Sunday” and scrolling . . . scrolling . . . scrolling . . .
- The images are created for use in the church. Designers and photographers know the kinds of events your church holds, the special services you’re preparing for, and what’s appropriate for the sanctuary.
- You can choose from several media sizes. Want to turn an Easter image into a postcard or Instagram post? No problem, just click to download the right size. No finagling necessary.
- Either there’s room to overlay text, or the background is dark enough for you to overlay text in a contrasting color.
- Images are easily editable. Add text or design elements, change fonts or background colors, and more without needing a separate program (e.g., Photoshop).
- You’ll often find not only images but also video and church motion graphics. With these extra options, you can add more variety in your service presentation and create greater opportunity for engagement.
9 ways to use images for Lent, Ash Wednesday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Palm Sunday, Easter & more
1. Digital invitations
Turn your church media into an invitation and ask your members to share it on their social media platforms.
In Faithlife Media, you can select the size you want, then download it or save it to your church’s group on Faithlife.
2. Print invitations
Selecting a social media size is easy in Faithlife Media. Just as easy? Select postcard size (or letter size or half letter size) and export print-quality images.
3. Welcome slides
You can use a standard welcome slide for every service, or you can implement welcome slides that coordinate with your sermon slides for an even more polished look.
4. Announcement slides
Having a special Bible study series during Lent? Let people know using an announcement slide featuring an image specially created for Lent.
5. Sermon slides
Follow a few best practices to create slides that emphasize Scripture and the message’s main points.
6. Song slides
When you have the perfect images, there’s no reason not to use them in your song service as well as your sermon slides. It doesn’t take long at all—and you can avoid typos.
7. Digital church bulletins
With online church bulletins, you can save paper, give online and in-person attendees an added way to follow along, and more. (Tip: If you use Faithlife Proclaim church presentation software, it will automatically create a digital bulletin for you.)
8. Church newsletters
With so many everyday distractions and so many services still online only, it’s a good idea to develop as many opportunities for connection as you can—especially when it only takes a few minutes. Create a digital church newsletter with images, events, and content. Then, send it out by email and share in your church’s free group on Faithlife.
9. Church blog posts
Blog posts need at least one image to accompany the content. Why not draw from the library of church images you’ve already found? (Tip: If you transcribe sermons and publish them as blog posts, you can use your sermon title slide as your blog header image.)
If you’re ready to stop the endless search for excellent images for Lent, Ash Wednesday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Palm Sunday, Easter, and more, take a look at Faithlife Media. Before you subscribe, you can browse images to your heart’s content and try out the super-simple Smart Editor.
Bonus: A subscription to Faithlife Media also gives you a free subscription to Faithlife Sermons sermon archiving and more—so you’re getting two powerful pieces of church tech for the price of one.