September 21, 2022
4 min read
With the holiday season fast approaching, many houses of worship and faith-based institutions are gearing up and planning for their holiday worship services. It's no surprise that during this time of year, people tend to engage more in their religious communities. Historically, holidays like Easter and Christmas have attracted visitors in greater numbers to the church, and all this added interest provides religious leaders an opportunity to engage with more people than they would generally reach through weekly services. This is especially true when it comes to engaging younger audiences.
The holiday season provides great occasion for outreach, and audiovisual solutions allow leaders to enhance their in-house services and even engage members of the community who cannot attend in person. By leveraging technologies for worship services and events, you can create engaging experiences that will spark interest beyond the holiday season. As an AV professional, it may be part of the job to help safely bring the holiday spirit to congregants during the upcoming holiday season. Here are a few ways you might consider reaching out to your community.
Broaden Your Reach With Live Streaming
2020 was a year of many changes. Across the US, the religious landscape continues to change at an accelerated pace. Before 2020 only 58% of churches live-streamed their services. By April 2020, that number rose to 97%. Even with congregants returning to in-person services, live streaming remains a valuable tool to stay connected to community members who cannot attend live services or have relocated to a different area. Especially during the holidays, live broadcasts allow you to serve your entire community and are a key element of overall outreach.
How you livestream matters when it comes to continued engagement. The goal should be to create a streaming experience that captures the same feelings as live attendance. To do this, many houses of worship have started to understand the value of quality cameras and video switchers to enhance their broadcasts:
St. Thomas Church in New York, NY installed 11 Panasonic 4K cameras (nine UE150 4K PTZ cameras and two UE4 wide angle 4K PTZs) to provide full coverage of their services. This setup, paired with an AV-UHS500 4K production switcher and AW-RP150 touchscreen controller, brought the Gothic architecture of St. Thomas into people’s homes, resulting in a 900% increase in online viewership.
In Indianapolis, Trader’s Point Christian Church uses Panasonic VariCam LT cameras and the Panasonic HRP1000 remote operational panel to create cinema-quality productions for their online worshippers. This has led to their online viewership tripling and one Christmas service reaching 12,000 viewers.
These examples show the potential of creating compelling broadcasts to reach a wider community, especially around the holiday season. With the right technology, these broadcasts can feel as immediate as attending a service in person. With user-friendly IP and cloud-based solutions such as the KAIROSⓇ family of solutions, live broadcasts reach viewers with lower latency, making them truly feel a part of the live proceedings.
Enhancing In-Person Experiences
In Milwaukee, WI, Oak Creek Assembly of God is the city’s largest Spanish-language church. Like so many, when the pandemic hit Oak Creek realized it needed to upgrade its broadcast capacity to keep reaching its over 3,000 congregants. Upgrading its cameras and video switchers allowed Oak Creek to create the sort of broadcast that immediately engaged its remote viewers.
These upgrades didn’t only benefit those watching remotely. The same technologies can help create a more immersive experience for in-person congregants. These tools give houses of worship options to move past the stereotypically formal, staid services people sometimes expect, into more exciting and engaging live experiences:
Visual: By utilizing displays and projectors, you can offer your in-person congregants a dual experience. The displays immerse them in the cinematic feel of your broadcasts while they remain a part of the live proceedings. This allows congregants to see angles that would otherwise be blocked off while continuing to benefit from being in the physical space during service.
Audio: Speakers have long been utilized as a tool to make sure all congregants can clearly hear what’s being said during service. By utilizing digital wireless microphones, leaders become free to engage more fully with the congregation. Especially during holiday services with many new faces in the pews, these tools allow religious leaders to come out from behind the lectern and form true connections with their audience.
Considerations for Installing AV Solutions
Planning any installation of technology around the needs of your busy holiday services allows you to fully consider the advantages and limitations of your space. What solutions will be the most useful during your holiday services?
Size of your space: Larger venues will have a greater need for visual aids like holiday projectors and displays. Different spaces also have different acoustics, which can affect how many speakers you may need and where best to deploy them. Too much in a smaller space can become overwhelming to your congregation, so it’s important to consider the specific needs of your space.
Your congregation: The community you’re in will dictate the tools most important to you. If you’re centered in a young, tech-savvy area, then cinema-quality live streams may be the best way to continue engaging congregants beyond the holiday season. In smaller communities, you may be able to start more modestly to expand your reach while still focusing on enhancing in-house services for your tight-knit community.
Integration: It’s important to utilize technology thoughtfully. Gothic architecture interrupted by 21st-century technology can feel discordant. By thinking about where best to place items like speakers and cameras and deploying them in a way that blends with the existing architecture of the space, you can benefit from modern solutions while keeping them as unobtrusive as possible.
Budget: Technology changes fast and your house of worship may not have the budget to be continually upgrading. It is important to find solutions that work for today but can also be adapted to meet your future needs. Start modestly and build from there. Also, consider how investing in technology can generate a return. For instance, just by accepting online donations, churches have seen an increase in overall giving of 32%. Remember, while technology helps you more easily reach your community, it also helps them more easily reach you.
Exceeding Expectations During the Holidays
The holidays offer a chance to speak to a new audience. By using AV solutions, you can ensure your message is delivered in a form befitting its import. By exceeding people’s expectations, you may find them more apt to return even after the holiday season has passed.