Last month, I saw an ad for the usual “Christmas in July” sales gimmick, and it got me thinking about the holidays and how quickly they seem to come once school gets back in full swing.
From another perspective, this catch phrase has a completely different, but legitimate, meaning in relation to our church clients. Now really is the ideal time to plan for the sound, video, and lighting system upgrades which inevitably need to happen before the musical performances, plays, guest concerts, and other events that are part of the Christmas season.
Don’t Wait Until Thanksgiving
To successfully implement these changes church decision makers need to start the process now. While the demands can make November and December a hectic time for all of us, the holidays are a logical time to undertake these projects. There’s already a buzz in the air that adds momentum and support from within the church family. Additionally, this is often the time when church tech folks — especially volunteers — are most involved in church activities. Taking the Christmas production up a notch or two can help church members take notice of the changes and provide a new level of engagement. Allowing sufficient time for design, planning, installation coordination, and training prior to the first use of upgraded technology is key to getting the job done right while minimizing stress. Now is the time to be thinking about upgrades for the holidays.
The two areas that seem to get the most attention in holiday upgrades are lighting and audio.
Lighting System Upgrades
Lighting has taken on a much more significant role in worship due in part to its commonplace presence throughout our culture. The advent of low-cost LED color lighting in the worlds of retail and commercial architecture have exposed the masses to new creative possibilities. Additionally, any serious entertainment production you see these days focuses heavily on visual engagement. The general public has come to expect well-lit stages and creative architectural lighting as the norm.
Culture eventually makes its way into worship in varying degrees. The church can be somewhat unique in this regard, as often the marriage of tradition and modern culture happily lives together side-by-side. The good news is that well-designed lighting can greatly enhance elements of traditional architecture and add new life to older spaces without being overbearing, all while bringing another dimension to the worship experience.
Additionally, I can’t overstate the importance of lighting for video production. The quality of lighting is nowhere more obvious than on camera. Prospective church members often visit websites and watch video to evaluate their level of interest before visiting a church, making it even more important that churches present themselves in the “best light” possible.
Sound System Upgrades
Audio technology has evolved dramatically during the last five to 10 years. The widespread adoption of digital consoles and personal monitor mixing alone has removed many obstacles that previously limited the quality of production possible. The available range of loudspeaker solutions should assure quality results in almost any situation. So why is it that we walk into so many sanctuaries with current technology, only to find a myriad of complaints related to coverage, monitoring issues, fidelity, ease of use, and consistent results?
The answer is that the same principles of design and implementation still hold true regardless of technology. Quality tools are no replacement for good design. More than often than not, new technology actually requires a higher level of expertise to reach its full potential. I can’t think of many churches interested in risking precious resources on an experiment, yet all too often we discover that’s exactly what has occurred with new equipment purchases.
In-house we say that the goal of an audio system, unlike video or lighting, is ultimately to go unnoticed. If it’s doing its job correctly, it should not be getting much attention. This is from the standpoint of both sound quality and operation. If operators are constantly fighting feedback or struggling to keep up with transitions, the audio can become a distraction. If fidelity is poor, it’s a limiting factor to the potential impact of the program. These are failures that are all too common.
Is your system drawing too much attention?
Planning for Christmas during the heat of summer may seem strange, but taking time now to address your upcoming needs could help you avoid a cold sweat come December. It won’t be long before we’re thinking about “Easter in January”…