Monday, February 17, 2014

5 Things Church Attendees Don't Tell You

By Judah Thomas

Whenever I start to research a new piece of equipment or technology I find my heart rate increasing and my brain kicking into overdrive. I love digging into the intricacies of features, data rates, resolution and decibels. Spreadsheets begin to appear out of thin air as I compare features and contemplate schematics. I salivate as the process begins to come together and I envision how amazing our church will be once my dreams come to life.
Inevitably I will end up talking about this new project with friends and family and someone, usually my wife, will say the dreaded words, “Who cares!” My heart is shattered. Tears well up in my eyes as I shout, “I care!”
“Obviously. But does anyone else care?”
Those words haunt me. Does anyone else care? Slowly I am brought out of the Land of Technology and Unicorns and back into the Land of Normal People.
Although I do not like to admit it, sometimes it is easy for me to forget that technology is a tool and not a mistress. It is something that I use to serve the Body of Christ in my local church. Many of them don't give a hoot about how shiny or amazing my new magic box is, all they care about is going to church and learning about God.
Sure, they may enjoy seeing the pastor projected on a big screen, but they really don't care about the resolution or the brightness or any of that. They just want to be able to see it clearly. Basically they want technology to be transparent. They know it's there but they don't want to see it.
Here are five things that your congregation might tell you if they had the guts to:

1. I go to church to learn about God not to be impressed by wizardry. If I am singing a song, don't distract me with lights and images. Use them if you want, but let them compliment the experience and not become an experience of their own.
2. Please don't hurt me. I love music but don't blow my eardrums out. Don't make the music so loud that it is painful. On the other hand, don't make it so quiet that I feel like everyone is watching me when I am singing along at the top of my lungs. That's just awkward for everyone.
3. I don't care how good your sound system is. If I hear feedback, crackling, buzzing, or even if a microphone battery dies I will be distracted. Please don't distract me. If I am distracted then my attention is now on your failing piece of technology and not on God.
4. If you want to put song lyrics on the big screen that's great. It helps me sing along better. However, please put the right lyrics up at the right time. I don't care if they look amazing and the background is moving, if they are the wrong lyrics, or even just too small --- or if they’re late --- I will be very distracted.
5. Those lights seem like a great way to set a nice mood during a prayer or worship song. But the strobe light and laser show during Communion was a little distracting. Lights are cool, but I don't want to feel like I am at a game show.
We need to make sure that our technology choices serve the ultimate goal of making the sermon more accessible to those that attend. As much as I have to admit it, the technology needs to disappear and be transparent. That takes skill, but it is well worth the effort. And your congregation will thank you for it.

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