Worship and Technology
Contributors-Eric Martin and Brad Waggoner, Children’s Director at KUMC
Welcome back for our 2nd week! This week I am inviting a special guest who has been busy working around the Church. You may have seen him or the results of some of his work and wondered what was going on. In this week's blog we are going to tell you all about it!
“Come, let us bow down in worship,
let us kneel before the Lord our Maker.”
Worshiping God is a very important part of who we are as Christians. Whether it is corporately as we sing your favorite hymns and praise songs or silently as you whisper prayers to God. We are made to worship God. You may wonder how technology goes along with worship. Is it necessary? Do we really need all the stuff?
“Our world is rapidly changing due to advancements in technology and social norms. While this may cause some challenges for ministry, I'm convinced this is one of the most exciting times in history to be ministers of the Gospel.”
-Jake Gosselin, Churchfront
There are times that technology helps us to enter into worship. It might be through slides that Pastor Melanie is using in her sermon so you can see a more complete view of the idea she is sharing. It might be through a video that helps you to connect deeper to a topic. It might just be that Pastor Melanie has a microphone that works so she isn’t screaming through three services every Sunday so she can be heard (data suggest she might lose her voice). There are times that technology can make it difficult for us to enter into worship as well…hello feedback? Technology has advanced and shapes our everyday lives in ways we sometimes don’t even realize. It only makes sense that we would see and feel and experience the same advancement of technology through our worship and in our Churches.
This week we are joined by Eric Martin who has been working on upgrading technology in our worship spaces. This has included or will include building a new sound booth in the sanctuary, new sound equipment in our worship spaces, new lighting, and live streaming equipment. Eric has spent countless hours on this project already and he has been joined by his son Leif every step of the way. Let's dive into it.
Eric, can you start us off by giving us an overview of everything you have been up to?
Thanks Brad. Yes, this is a very big project. It was brought about by the desire to begin live streaming our services. In today’s society, a church’s Live Stream is considered the “Front Porch '' or the place that visitors come to “check you out”. In the past we had pre-recorded videos, but these videos which were not recorded during service, missed the energy and the atmosphere of our services. However, during the planning phase we quickly discovered that much of the equipment at the church was very dated and failing. Even in the Multi Ministry Center where we have the contemporary worship service, we all think of the equipment as new. In reality everything in the MMC is almost 15 years old. Computers are not designed to last that long, and in today’s world of sound equipment everything is computerized. So we needed to address technology and network infrastructure campus wide in order to have a solid platform that could support our needs both now and in the future. As a result we are addressing the sound systems in both the Sanctuary and MMC including new sound boards, microphones, wiring, etc…, cameras for live streaming, a new network infrastructure campus wide, new presentation computers, and a portable live streaming setup. To accommodate all the new equipment, we have built a new sound booth in the sanctuary and will be expanding the one in the MMC. We are also installing a new Assistive Listening system for the hearing impaired. This system will work in both the Sanctuary and MMC. It connects to a person's existing smartphone and Bluetooth hearing aids, eliminating the need to hand out equipment. We expect to complete the project by mid April.
I’ve shared a verse that resonates with me about worship, do you have a verse on worship that resonates with you?
For me, Isaiah 6:1-5 has always been a great one.
In the year of King Uzziah’s death I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted, with the train of His robe filling the temple. 2 Seraphim were standing above Him, each having six wings: with two each covering his face, and with two each covering his feet, and with two each flew. 3 And one called out to another and said,
“Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord of armies.
The whole earth is full of His glory.”
4 And the foundations of the thresholds trembled at the voice of him who called out, while the temple was filling with smoke. 5 Then I said,
“Woe to me, for I am ruined!
Because I am a man of unclean lips,
And I live among a people of unclean lips;
For my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of armies.”
Although this may not be the traditional scripture many think about when discussing worship, this has always resonated with me, especially when we sing the hymn Holy, Holy, Holy. To me, this gives an image of worship in heaven. I especially love verse 4 “the foundations of the thresholds trembled at the voice of him who called out, while the temple was filling with smoke”. Did you catch that? The foundations trembled! The temple was filled with smoke! The worship and praise taking place in heaven even caused Isaiah to tremble and call himself unclean. When was the last time our worship came close to this image?
You have committed yourself to this project, spent tons of time researching, preparing and doing the hands-on work. Why do you feel like these technology upgrades are so important for us at KUMC?
I love the family at KUMC and I feel that we are an open and loving family at a time when the world needs this. Unfortunately, we have not always done our best at showing the world around us who we are. How many people in the Keystone and surrounding areas would love to be part of such a loving family? How many people need Jesus in their lives? I am certain it is a far greater number than we see here on Sunday mornings. So we need the tools to reach them, and in today’s world, that means leveraging technology.
In what ways do you see the work that you are doing enhancing worship at KUMC?
On one hand, you can look at the equipment, wireless microphones, sound boards, computers, speakers, etc… and just see them as individual components that by themselves do not mean much. Put a hammer in the hands of an unskilled person, and they won’t produce much, but in the hands of the right carpenter, they can build unthinkable things. The same is true for us. We have great musicians and singers that love to praise and worship God, we have a wonderful Pastor that brings moving sermons each week, but without the tools to share their gifts, very few will be blessed. However, if we give them the tools, they can share their gifts with the world.
Something that I think we are all excited about is that once all of the upgrades are in place and all of the equipment is installed will be our ability to live stream our worship services. You may wonder why this is important or you may be excited just like we are.
Live streaming can actually increase attendance and not just by increasing the number of people watching online. It can impact in-person attendance as well. Live streaming can create a regular church attendance habit. We have all been in a situation where our life changed and we were unable to attend church each week, maybe you got sick, your work schedule changed, or a number of other things. When people have these times it can be hard to get back to the habit of attending service again, but if they can connect with us each week online it will be easier for them to connect in person once things settle down for them. It also helps those that are unsure about attending Church. They can connect with us online and when they are ready they can join us in person. Because they have become part of our family online, it will be easier for them to join our family in person.
Live streaming allows people to attend from anywhere which literally helps us to take the gospel into all the world!
Live streaming will allow us to showcase our services online. Today more and more people make a decision to visit a church based on what they see online first. When they see our service online they know what to expect and can feel more comfortable when they decide to join us in person.
While there are so many reasons to get excited about live streaming, the last one I will list is that it is a great way for you to invite others to join us. Instead of just telling someone that there was a great sermon at Church last Sunday you can send them the link so they can watch it themselves. The live stream can become a powerful invitation if we all will use it well.
Eric, as you think about adding live streaming to what we offer, how do you think that can shape the worship opportunities we have?
Live Streaming is more than just playing a video online. It is really inviting people into our worship space who may not be physically there. Allowing them to feel the energy we are feeling and truly be a part of the worship experience. I also love that we have the ability to interact with the viewers. Many may not realize this, but we will be able to have a team of people that are interacting with the viewers online during the live stream. This is so powerful I think. Responding to questions, prayer requests, etc…, and really engaging them is critical. In addition, we will have the ability to live stream other events. Think of events such as an outdoor service, when our teams went south to help during the last hurricane, we can stream anything we want, anywhere we are at. What a great way to share our faith!
Is there anything else you would like to add about technology and worship?
Although we have different services with different worship styles, the technology we put in place will add value to all of them.
Technology is constantly changing and evolving, but rather than chasing the latest and greatest advancement, our question should always be, “will this help us reach more people in need of Christ?”, not, “will this fill more pews”, but “can we reach more people”. Technology is helping us break down the walls of the church building, and become a church that reaches not just the local community, but the world.
I want to say a special thank you to Eric and Leif for all of the work they have been doing and continue to do. If you see them around campus be sure to say thanks as well.
As we close out I hope that you can join us in our excitement about what is happening with all of the technology upgrades. If you are interested in being part of our live stream team and interacting with our online worshiping community let us know! It’s not just about getting new stuff. It is about allowing us to reach more people and improve the experience we all have when attending services at KUMC.