Jan 1, 2009 12:00 PM, By Michael Goldman
As 2009 hits, I continue searching for signs to justify the suggestion I made in this space last month that perhaps there will be some economic optimism to be found this year in the AV industry — despite the general gloomy forecast overall. This issue, we put the houses of worship market under the microscope — as we always do each January in SVC — and it was while putting the issue together that I suddenly saw that extra bit of optimism: the HOW market itself, which remains fertile and an AV-trend leader.
After all, to paraphrase the old adage about eating, people still gotta pray (and learn and do charitable works), and it's not unreasonable to assume they are going to be turning out to do just that more often — not less — in these dire economic times. Furthermore, in the HOW market, the end user of the AV technology — churches — are, by definition, not mere businesses, serving only a profit motive. They are community and public-service institutions committed to literally getting out the word. Therefore, as flocks grow, many HOW facilities have little choice but to grow their own ability to communicate to those audiences using the latest technology and innovations available. This isn't to say budgets aren't being stretched, projects postponed, and expansion leveling off — the HOW market generally is no more immune from market forces than other industry segments. But rather, it is to say that so-called megachurches continue to grow and push forward with their agendas, some even more briskly than before. It's good to see that professional AV technology is inexorably linked to that movement forward.
In recent months, we've taken a look at the digital-signage movement in the church world, the growth of portable churches, inhouse broadcast facilities, acoustics in the worship environment, and much more. Our twice-monthly Houses of Worship enewsletter/podcast routinely breaks these and many other issues down to their component parts and will continue doing so. In this issue of SVC, our package of HOW install pieces illustrates the place many of these trends are converging in — the multisite worship experience.
Rather than concentrating on single auditoriums to accommodate congregational growth, these facilities are building out across all the land available to them so that they have multiple facilities and methods to offer programs and services in — all networked together. Kent Morris' article on p. 44 on Ohio's Church of the Open Door and California's Saddleback Church exemplify this trend. Morris' article makes it clear that high-end AV work is continuing these days at such facilities. These churches find it cost-effective, and necessary, to pursue the multisite approach to accommodate their growth and communication needs.
Here at SVC, we plan to delve further into this trend in 2009, and maybe learn a thing or two from those clever church guys about when, why, and how it is possible to grow in a down economy.
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