Over the past few months I have assisted in the installation of flat screen TVs in our sanctuary. When it comes to music, our congregation has long been nurturing an attitude of self-sacrificial worship in lieu of the self-preferential worship that is so prevalent in churches and so I am hopeful that this technological change during our gathering will be welcomed with little ado.
During the first Sunday of use, Prepare the Way was leading the congregation in worship. Thus, I didn’t experience the new view as a congregant. This past Sunday, however, our family settled into the pew and I placed my printed order of service next to me. There it remained for the duration of the morning. I can’t say that I like the new look of the sanctuary, but following the service, I had determined that I appreciated these few things:
The Technological Benefit
Having screens does expand the possibilities for engaging the congregation during our time together. Note that I don’t speak in regards to entertainment or presentation, but rather engaging and equipping for worship of God. Also, the wired sanctuary eliminates most preparation that our pastor and teams would normally have tended to prior to the service when we desired to project a video or some other digital media element.
The Psychological Benefit
Have you ever wrestled a sheep in a rainstorm while trying to read a book? Neither have I. But, I think it gives you a decent picture of what it’s like to contain a toddler for an hour during this thing we call a worship service. Not having to handle an order of service and a child is quite freeing and proffers a touch of sanity.
The Financial Benefit
One factor that directed Bethel’s decision to proceed with installing screens was that of stewardship. I think we will likely be aiming to phase out most printing that must happen for our services. After the cost of the equipment has been recouped, these monies will be freed up for other ministry.
The Spiritual Benefit
It’s a minor thing, but with hymn lyrics fed to me via the screen, I was able to sing as we processed forward for communion. It seems some of my favorite hymns may be those that are set for this portion of the service. Thus, this was a joy and something for which I am grateful.
Now, if you were to ask me whether four screens enhance or detract from the worship experience, I’d likely say little more than, “It’s nice.” Remember, worship is not about our experience. It is about the glory of God and the lifting of His name. So, whatever my experience, or whatever your experience, I only hope and pray that these new tools might be used for the glory of His holy name. And such was our prayer of dedication this past Sunday.
What do you think? Do you utilize screens (or other recent technological tools) in your church building? In what ways have they detracted from the life of your congregation in fellowship and service to the Kingdom? How have they benefited your life together?
The great thing about technology is that when it is a tool to improve a process, it is great. When it becomes less about improving something and more, it can be a burden. Also, I’d love to hear how you could use your new technology for more than worship on Sundays?
Our church uses projection screens but also prints out EVERYTHING in the bulletin. Since we are a Lutheran church that enjoys its liturgy, that’s a lot of text every week, resulting in a 6-8 page bulletin. I find myself using the screens more than the bulletin. It seems like a lot of resources to print each week (forgot to mention the 3-4 page weekly newsletter and announcements also) that I feel could be reduced, if not eliminated altogether.
It’s a minor thing, but I also appreciate that it gets my head up and out of a bulletin or hymnal and maybe helps facilitate a sense of community or maybe just a little eye contact with my neighbors. But then again, if we’re all just staring at screens, is that any better?
I dunno. I guess I like the idea of saving trees.
It is a lot of printing each week. We have been slowly migrating the distribution of our newsletter to the digital realm as well.
And, yes, so good to get our faces looking up. After a second week, with the screens, I did realize one sad consequence of which I’ll have to be mindful: an end to hymnal reading also means our children are less exposed to the reading of music. That’s kind of a big thing.