7 Trends in Church Audio, Video, and Lighting
Few things affect the worship experience like audio, video, and lighting (AVL). When Aspen Group designs church space, we work closely with AVL partners to ensure that pastors can preach the word clearly, worship teams can lead church services effectively, and attendees have a meaningful experience at church.
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We asked four trusted AVL partners and experts for their insights on AVL trends in the church. Here are seven shifts they say are happening in the church now:
Some churches are creating a worship experience that begins before they enter the sanctuary. Just as restaurants sometimes hide speakers in the bushes and pump music or cricket sounds on your way from the parking lot to the front door, some churches are streaming worship music outdoors so you can get in the mood for the service on your way into the building.
“Churches want a newcomer’s very first impression of the church to be a place of love, grace, and peace,” says Mike Mrozinski, project development manager for LiveSpace. "Piped music may help set the stage for this."
For a time, churches were relying on projection technology for screens on the stage. Now, though, LED wall technology is what’s up. According to Mrozinski, with the trend toward adding windows for natural light in church worship spaces, and the ever-decreasing costs of LED wall technology, more churches are going to LED walls to convey on-stage visuals.
For churches that still use projection because of budget constraints, laser projectors have become the go-to projectors, according to Brent Mullett, an AVL systems consultant for CSD Group. "To many churches, the extra expense up front of using laser projectors is justified knowing the power draw is reduced, and they will likely never have get up to the projector to change the lamps, which are rated at 20,000 hrs."
Along with the typical main video displays, Environmental Projection (EP) enables the church to "paint" images onto the blank canvas of their worship space walls. "Anything that is relevant to the theme of the service—from still photos to video clips—can be projected onto the walls," says Mullett. "This is perfect for creating themed Bible school sets—no prep, building materials, storage needed. And you can change the scene at the touch of a few buttons. If used effectively it is a powerful tool to pull the congregation into an immersive worship experience."
Churches aren't only thinking about video in terms of what's displayed during worship servics in the sanctuary. With the rise of violence, arson, and other crimes committed on church property, more churches are including security technology into their church building plans now.
Randy Seitz, an architect with Blue Ridge Architects in Harrisonburg, Virginia, says he sees churches placing a high priority on using video technology to help monitor and protect kids, monitor traffic inside and outside of the building, and to secure entry and access points to church staff.
Red/Green/Blue (RGB) Houselights
In the past, AVL contractors would typically handle the design and installation of theatrical lighting, and the electrical contractor would do the house lights. Now, AVL contractors are designing the entire lighting package for church sanctuaries, partly because technology has changed, but mostly because all of the lighting in a worship environment needs to be considered in terms of the type of experience you want worshipers to have.
According to Mullett, allowing the AVL contractor to handle the entire worship center lighting instead of parsing out some of the lighting work to an electrical contractor helps to ensure that the right type of lights and fixtures are selected for the type of experience desired.
“With RGB LED lights, you can change the entire scenery in a room, breaking down the separation between the stage and the congregation,” says Mrozinski.
Mullett says, "RGB fixtures allow the theatrical lighting to paint the space virtually any color at any time. We call this 'blurring the line' between the stage and the audience where the entire room is one immersive environment."
High-Tech Conference Rooms
“Churches want conference rooms with AVL that would rival most Fortune 500 companies,” says Mrozinski. “Not only is creating meeting and training space seen as a potential revenue stream, but it’s also an opportunity to get the top secular leaders of the community in the doors who might not set foot in the church for a weekend service.”
Community Christian Church-Yellow Box, in Naperville, Illinois, added a glass-wrapped training room when they renovated their church in 2014. LiveSpace designed the training room to be tech-ready with video capabilities and WiFi, and it seats up to about 40. The church invites local businesses to use the room for training events and meetings.
“Our passion is to train and equip future leaders,” says Dave Ferguson, lead pastor of Community Christian Church and co-founder of the New Thing Network, a global church planting movement.
“Our auditorium will help us reach thousands. But the training center will help us reach tens of thousands. It’s to mentor and train new pastors, church leaders, and leaders of every kind, including local school districts and businesses. I think we’ll look back and see that our greatest investment will be in the training center.”
Intentional AVL Design
By far though, the biggest (and best) trend, according to Mrozinski, is that AVL is being designed into church space at the front end of a building project, instead of at the end.
Architect Dave Wilde agrees. “We never just 'incorporate’ technology into our designs anymore. It’s part of the bones of the space, not an add-on.”