Audio visual systems designed for Houses of Worship (HOW) aim to enrich worship services for attendees, and enhance the interconnectivity among churches and their faith communities. The introduction of AV in the HOW began with large “mega” churches, but today we see smaller churches turning to technology to make their Sunday services, or any other special event, a more memorable occasion.
While this appears to be good news for the industry due to a greater demand for equipment, as well as a growth in business and the opportunity to reach out to a larger customer base through word-of-mouth marketing, it also illustrates a few potholes in the process that haven’t been addressed with much efficiency. Most small HOWs use volunteers to run their AV equipment. But most of those people will not have the required knowledge base needed to make the best possible use of the most updated AV technology. Only very large organizations who have the resources to do so will hire the services of trained and skilled technicians.
Filling the Potholes
The importance of full-time paid technical staff has not yet become a priority for those who manage the operational affairs of these smaller churches. Several different factors contribute, ranging from financial constraints to a lack of understanding of the importance of retaining a technically savvy staff. Regardless of the reason, it is essential that the acoustics in HOWs are managed by experts with as much know-how as those in corporate, government, and the education sectors. Unfortunately, not all churches recognize the rising expectations of their congregations and the fact that their AV needs have gone far beyond managing organs and choirs. The days of experimentation are over. It is time to start filling the gaps and allowing the AV industry to flourish in HOWs of all sizes.
Easier, more Intuitive Systems Wanted
The 1990s witnessed the introduction of mega-churches with ultra-modern infrastructures. Now, it is time for another entry – satellite churches. According to statistics, the number of such churches has skyrocketed from 100 to 2000 in a ten-year period starting in 1998. This is a clear indication that religious institutions are ready for a change in how they go about reaching their congregation.
Today Internet, web streaming, and broadcasting facilities have been integrated with AV systems in order to offer a technologically advanced, modern outlook to religious services in hopes that they will encourage people to become more active in their church. However, apart from a few churches, most are bound by the limitations of the human resources available to them. These churches tend to be more comfortable with a do-it-yourself approach, which is exactly why there is such a need for a more intuitive AV system that requires minimal manipulation to achieve the desired results.
First, though, the basic requirements for these systems need to be understood. They include (but aren’t limited to) a sound system with the ability to support both music and speech, and the capability to deliver sound quality that will suit the requirements of the space in the best possible manner. Budgets, of course, are an important factor that need to be considered. The budget will determine the kind of equipment a church can afford to use. If they decide to get more intuitive systems, they will also need to analyze the cost-benefit factor. It might be well worth it for a small, satellite church to invest in top AV products, if they are so easy to use that it allows the church to save money spent hiring trained technicians. The answer depends on how well the prescribed AV solutions are able to serve their purposes in the Church. It all boils down to understanding the requirements and finding the product that will meet those requirements within the budget available.
Do you attend a HOW with an AV system? Do you feel it enhances or distracts from the service? What suggestions do you have on how to improve the experience? We would love to hear your thoughts.