At the WFX Reach conference this month in Raleigh, I had the pleasure of participating in a session on creating compelling worship environments.
In preparing for this session, it made me think quite a bit on this subject, and how readers may perceive it.
One of the challenges of writing for Worship Facilities Magazine and Church Production Magazine is it's easy to give people the impression that the more technology you use and the flashier you make your services and events, the more compelling they will be.
I'd like to dissuade that here.
Technology is just a tool that can be utilized to create an environment.
It can be used to facilitate a compelling environment, and it can be used to ruin a compelling environment.
But the starting point should always be, what does "a compelling worship environment" mean for each individual church?
It's not going to be the same for every church.
For some, yes, technology will play a huge role as what might be a compelling environment may mean establishing a "rock concert" style.
But for others, the more technology is utilized, the less compelling the worship space.
Sovereign Grace Church in Apex, NC (which I attended for several years), while having a stage and a theatrical lighting system, keeps their environment very simple.
There's little if any additional items on the stage beyond what's needed to support the contemporary worship team. Not even risers to raise up the musicians in the back are utilized.
The two large side screens present white letters on a black background for lyrics.
The PA system reinforces the band to a good, strong level appropriate for contemporary/rock worship music, but doesn't leave your ears ringing, nor pump so much bass into the space that some might feel nauseous.
Some would say that this is a very dull environment. However, this is the only church I've ever attended where the congregational singing often drowns out the PA system.
And I mean that quite literally. Part of how this church accomplishes this passionate response is there is nothing happening in the room to create anything remotely distracting.
There's nothing moving on the video screens other than the lyrics needed to participate; there's no lighting changing on the stage to draw your eye; there's nothing else to focus on exceptGod. And for this congregation, an environment where there's nothing but God to think about and focus on is the most compelling worship environment possible.
So, before you fall under the spell of people talking about all the things you need to add to your auditorium to create an "awesome" space, think about what truly matters in your congregation to create a space that truly brings people into God's presence.