We've been having a lot of fun with Wordle over the past week, and incorporating it into worship. If you've never used it, Wordle is a free, online computer programme which creates word clouds. You paste in some text, it strips out the numbers and joining words ('and', 'the' etc) and then makes the most often-used words come up biggest in the cloud. You can manipulate the colours, layout and settings a bit, but the result is always somewhat random and often beautiful.

We experiemented making word clouds out of Psalms, and also bits of the Anglican liturgy. You could also try it with song words, sermon texts, news reports... the possibilites are huge. Below are a few we made, or go to http://www.wordle.net/gallery?username=engageworship to see all our creations.

We used some of these in a service, projecting them on the screen. We then got people to make their own, by looking at a Psalm and then using coloured pens and paper, writing the words that jumped out to them in bold and other words smaller.

We also printed some out for people to reflect on in a small group situation. In that context we felt it was right to get people to make their own wordles based on their lives - so we got people to write a list of the key names, places, feelings, tasks etc that were in their minds. We then got them to arrange them on a page in a way that reflected how they felt about them. All of these were reflective and thought-provoking ways of engaging with the Bible and each other.

Psalm 97

The Creed

Psalm 111

Psalm 138

Be aware, in Wordle you can't save the images directly as jpgs, you have to take a screenshot and then cut off the edges. There is a clear explaination of how to do this for both PC and Mac on the Wordle site.

Also, in our excitement about Wordle we also came across Tagxedo - a 'next generation' Worlde which isn't so quick to use, but can create far more complex shapes and varations. You can even paste in a picture, and let the words form that face. Below is an example from the site of Martin Luther King, and one we did based on the Creed. Another bonus is you can save these directly as jpgs. I did have to download a little Microsoft application, but this was quick and painless (although I could hear my Mac whining!). Anyhows, hope these spark some ideas, do let us know how you use them in worship!!

The Creed

Martin Luther King, (c) Tagxedo.com

(thanks to Liz Pinnock for intital inspiration and ongoing input on this idea!)