Avoiding the Big-Top Tendency

We should use technology to help glorify God, not put on a showd-MinFac-Technology

Technology in a church setting can be a difficult issue. When referring to the sound, video and lighting aspects of a church sanctuary, we all have our own varying experiences.

On the positive side, a well-lit room may inspire us to forget what is going on around us and create an environment that draws us closer to God. But isn’t it strange how the same tools can be 
distracting by demanding our attention and causing us to take our eyes off God?

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The fact is that many churches commonly use equipment that was initially developed for use in concert tours and theater productions. In theater settings, technical equipment is used to bring scenes alive. It directs our focus and makes us believe we are somewhere else. In concert tours, it builds excitement and stimulates our senses.

Years ago, electric guitars and drums were generally not allowed in churches because they were being used in secular rock tours. But over time, the church culture has come to accept these instruments and we have added contemporary worship music to the traditional hymns in our services.

In the same way, there has been a transformation of 
technical arts within churches. Sure, audio systems have been used in churches for years. But as worship teams grew, so did the need for high-end audio systems. It is now common in large church venues to see the same state-of-the-art audio consoles that are being used by the largest secular touring bands.

Less than 20 years ago, manufacture representatives of high-end equipment would not give you the time of day once they read your name tag and realized that you were affiliated with a church or ministry. The church market now makes up a large part of their corporate revenue. These days you won’t have any problem finding a company to sit down with you to discuss your technical needs. In many churches across the country, congregations have moved from simple audio systems with basic lighting to theater/concert hall hybrids.

Now what do we do with all this equipment? Early on, a lot of mistakes were made. One classic error was for churches to use all the equipment all the time. Once a new light fixture or video projector was purchased, it was added to the arsenal and overused until it became reminiscent of a circus. 

Early on for our churchwe were more concerned with accuracy and timing issues. But we gradually began to simplify and actually use our equipment as creative tools.

The turning point was when a young man in our youth group created a video that could be played along with the song “God of Wonders.” The video took us on a journey through God’s celestial creation, including planets, nebulas and the solar system. As the worship team was playing the song and the congregation sang along, we were visually seeing the grandeur of God’s creation on the projection screen. This challenged us to experience what we were singing.

This simple video changed all of us involved in the technical department. A deeper realization became apparent to us. We needed to grow creatively and spiritually, so that the technical talents that God has given us could be given back to Him as worship.

The technical equipment became our instruments of worship, and a bridge grew between the musicians and technicians. In our technical world, Rom. 11:36 became alive to us, “For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever! Amen” (NIV). A church’s technical equipment must be used to show forth God’s glory, instead of putting on a show.

Kevin Morehouse is director of audio/video technology for New Life Church in Colorado Springs, Colo., where he has been on staff since 1994. His passion for creativity and inventiveness is evident in Sunday services, conferences and other seasonal events such as The Thorn and Wonderland. 

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