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Installation Trends: Expanding Worship

Jan 1, 2009 12:00 PM, By Kent Morris

How recent AV upgrades to two churches meet the needs of growing communities.


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Opting not to build a new, larger sanctuary to house it members, Church of the Open Door provides video feeds of its live sermons to a remote room—the RNC Room—1500ft. away. This fiber-intensive installation took more than a year to complete.

Opting not to build a new, larger sanctuary to house it members, Church of the Open Door provides video feeds of its live sermons to a remote room—the RNC Room—1500ft. away. This fiber-intensive installation took more than a year to complete.

CHURCH OF THE OPEN DOOR

Jim Madden has a unique perspective on how his clients think and behave. With a background as an ordained minister, he brings empathy to his primary customer base: churches in and around Cleveland. Madden is part of the design team at Northeast Projections (NPi), and he understands the challenges and opportunities the worship environment represents. After years of uninterrupted growth, the worship market recently reached a plateau as pent-up expansion evaporated and church attendance leveled off. However, Madden has been at the forefront of a new thrust in the church marketplace: the multisite worship experience.

In the past, evangelical churches normally expanded by building a larger sanctuary to replace an outmoded one and then renovating the original facility into a youth or fellowship space. Once the available acreage filled with buildings, many congregations traded their urban setting for a vast campus situated on relatively inexpensive land near a busy thoroughfare. With proceeds from the sale of the downtown parcel, such churches were poised to erect modern buildings, complete with state-of-the-art media systems. Typically, the surrounding area grew in sync with the church, with retail shops and eateries sprouting up everywhere.

However, when a congregation reaches the saturation point, overwhelming the worship center each weekend with its numbers, the church must decide between two divergent paths. On one hand, an even larger sanctuary will house the entire worship community in one service, making each member feel a part of the whole. On the other, the price of such growth will loom heavily over the budget for years to come, and the room will only be filled a few hours per week. Madden and NPi have recognized what many growing churches have in the modern worship market: An oversized main auditorium is as outmoded as a full-size SUV. In essence, efficiency has become of paramount importance to the worship environment.

In place of a single large room, innovative houses of worship have moved to a live sermon in the sanctuary with video feeds to multiple overflow rooms elsewhere on campus. The newest trend is to go multilocation, with several remotely located venues displaying the same sermon simultaneously. In most of these environments, music and announcements are locally live and the video is near realtime. Thanks to current capture and transfer technology, the price of this approach is within reach of many congregations — and, with the right vendor, relatively easy to implement.

For Church of the Open Door in Elyria, Ohio, NPi was the vendor of choice to bring the benefits of remote video to the church's expanding membership. NPi was no stranger to the inner workings of Open Door, having finished a complete renovation of the loudspeaker system with an Electo-Voice line-array package in early 2008. Thus, NPi was prepared when the call came for a proposal to deliver the sermons of Senior Pastor Jim Mindling to a remote room 1500ft. away.



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