If you can’t hear the Word clearly, how can you worship effectively? If the worship sound is distracting, how can we join with others in worship?
While how microphones are used doesn’t affect the spiritual quality of worship, it makes a great difference in its technical quality and, if done poorly, can impede worship. To have the most technically excellent worship service, one must understand how microphones work and how to use them effectively.
Incorporating evolving technology has been an ongoing theme in Christian worship for two thousand years. From the use of scrolls to the invention of the printing press, from the use of lanterns to the invention of electricity, and from use of a pipe organ to the invention of electric guitars, worshipers have always been adopting new technology in worship.
Our church purchased an LCD (liquid crystal display) projector two years ago. As we incorporated this new technology it was important to us that it would not distract from worship’s narrative but support it as we made the ancient come alive in the present.
In “Leading with Light: Practical Ideas for Using Video Projection in Worship” (RW 76, p. 39), Steve Koster outlines various ways to use projected images that enhance rather than detract from worship. In this article Koster asks further questions: What does worship media look like? What can it be compared to? What is its unique identity? Koster suggests that our answer to that question will further influence our use of projection media.
“Can I Get More of Myself in the Monitors, Please?”
Given expensive equipment and potential conflicts over changes in worship style, the purchase of a video projector system is often a difficult decision for churches to make. But it’s only a first step. Once installed, the Sundays keep coming and the question becomes, What next? What do we put on the screen, week after week? How can we use the screen to do more than reproduce the texts from the bulletin and songbook? How can the screen lead the congregation in its liturgical tasks rather than call attention to itself? And who will produce this imagery?
As the church adjusts to changes in the surrounding culture, worship leaders are faced with the challenges of new technology. How is it best used, and who should be the ones using it? Often the person with the keys to the building is put in charge of the new sound system, regardless of his or her musical/technological skills or spiritual gifts.
Iappreciate a good gadget. Many times a day, I reach into my pocket for my personal digital assistant (PDA) in order to look up a phone number, schedule an appointment, or update my to do list. When I do, no one around me looks twice. However, if I pull out my Palm Pilot (one brand of PDA) to do a pastor-specific task—look up a Bible verse, write out the melody to a new song I’ve just heard, review my prayer list, or brush up on my Greek at the bus stop—peers and passersby rubberneck without shame.
Five years ago, our church decided to use a projection machine and screen in worship. We discovered that the appearance of projection-screen technology was forcing us to provide some answers to questions we had not even begun to ask. For example,
In the summer of 2003, the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship studied the use of video technology in worship in West Michigan. Over 900 churches in Kent and Ottawa counties were surveyed, with a 36% response rate. The following summary includes the key survey questions, a summary of the response, and some additional questions for considering your own media program.