Advancements in technology have changed almost every facet of life. For houses of worship, these advancements have equipped congregations with the resources and tools to support their mission. Particularly, professional AV solutions offer the technological support that enables organizations to reach far beyond the walls of the sanctuary.
In Indianapolis, Traders Point Christian Church has integrated Panasonic cameras into their live workflow to broadcast cinema-style church services to their 10,000+ congregants. According to broadcast director Kris Dunlop, it allows them to “stand out from what you’d expect to see from a church service online.”
In New York, St. Thomas Church creates the feeling of “being in a medieval castle with state-of-the-art technology,” according to director of communications Blake Martin. Using 11 Panasonic 4K cameras, their livestreamed services allow their congregants to worship from anywhere.
These two examples show how houses of worship can use technology to enhance how they impart their values and religious guidance. Modern technologies allow them to engage with people by creating rich and easily accessible experiences.
But houses of worship often act as more than just religious centers. They also serve as central parts of the communities where they are located. Modern technologies can prove just as vital for community services as they are to religious engagement.
Enhancing Emergency Shelters
Being a part of the community means being there when the community needs you most. Religious centers have been answering this call for hundreds of years by serving as temporary shelters during emergencies. However, while simply offering a safe location remains important, integrating technology can optimize the use of space in these scenarios.
Looking at FEMA guidelines, an emergency center requires clear communication capabilities. This means that emergency shelters must:
Address and distribute information to large groups of people quickly.
Communicate in multiple languages.
Assist in tasks, such as filling out forms.
Communicate effectively to people who may have difficulty communicating because of issues such as blindness or difficulty seeing, deafness or difficulty hearing, difficulty speaking, and/or intellectual disabilities.
For example, the Show Me suite of tools used in Massachusetts offer an example of using technology to address these issues. They use paper brochures and free mobile apps to aid in communication during an emergency. This effort offers a good start, but modern technologies provide more advanced and effective ways to broaden the communicative capabilities of the shelter and its staff.
Ways to Use AV Technology in an Emergency
Depending on the hardware already installed, shelters may leverage AV technology to provide a more effective emergency shelter in the following ways:
Cameras. Cameras can enhance communication in a shelter. Messages can be prerecorded in different languages. Cameras can also allow organizers to monitor the space in real-time or communicate remotely for better coordination with authorities.
Microphones/Speakers. Audio solutions can facilitate group communication throughout the shelter.
Projectors. A large projection can provide easily readable information in central locations to reach large groups faster than brochures or handouts alone.
Technology in the Classroom
Houses of worship and the surrounding facilities also frequently get used as educational spaces. From religious classes to community learning opportunities, religious centers often serve as gathering places for people seeking knowledge. Technology can deliver a useful tool to impart that knowledge in interesting and effective ways.
A paper by Oliver Knill, preceptor in mathematics at Harvard University, lays out some potential benefits of technology in the classroom:
It engages students in creative ways beyond the typical lecture.
It can break the monotony of the classroom so that students remain curious.
It allows for another form of communication to account for all learning styles.
It enables the facilitation of remote learning opportunities.
While far from exhaustive, this list gives us a starting place to think about the best ways to implement technology. Specific examples may involve:
Projectors. PowerPoint slideshows can supplement lectures. Projectors can also create more immersive experiences by focusing students’ attention on an external point instead of more internal foci like books or individual computers.
Live Video. Live Video solutions open up possibilities such as having guest speakers from remote locations.
Displays. The same display technologies used to reach a broad audience during services can also allow you to accommodate larger class sizes and special educational events.
While technology certainly opens up benefits, it’s also worth touching on what not to do when implementing technology into an educational setting:
Do not think of technology as a replacement for a well-thought-out lesson. Technology provides a supplement to good teaching, not a replacement.
Avoid gimmicky usage. Always ensure that there’s a legitimate reason you’re implementing technology into your lesson.
Be sure to use reliable equipment, such as AV solutions from Panasonic. Anything less can derail a lesson as you waste time troubleshooting the faulty equipment.
Child Care Services
Houses of worship also regularly offer child care as a community, whether through Sunday School, daycare, or after-school programs. While you may not initially think of daycare as something that needs to incorporate modern AV technologies, these solutions can contribute to a more positive, stimulative, and safe experience for children if used wisely.
Looking at papers from Penn State and the College of Charleston, we can see that while simply placing children in front of screens is likely not a good idea, well-considered use of technology can have benefits:
Visual displays and audio solutions allow for multi-sensory engagement during group activities.
Technology can operate as a tool for children with communication difficulties.
Cameras and live video allow parents to monitor their children remotely and for caregivers to monitor multiple rooms in a facility.
Integrated technology allows for more caregiver control, which can mean limiting overall screen time and/or monitoring content and appropriate usage.
The Show Must Go On
Designed for addressing large audiences and spreading your message, houses of worship make for an appealing space for community performances. Whether a local choir concert or a community theatre performance, your religious center can work as a place for your community to gather and celebrate their vibrant talents.
Those talents are reflected even more richly when using AV technology. Audio solutions can enhance the melodious sounds of your local choir. Cameras can preserve the memories of special events. Live video can allow your whole community to participate, even if they can’t physically attend a performance.
Enhance Your Community Space With Panasonic
Houses of worship offer us places to turn when we need guidance. They’re also where we turn when we need community. As such, it should come as no surprise then that they fill so many roles for the communities in which they serve. With Panasonic’s solutions for houses of worship, you can make sure you stay equipped to keep serving your community now and long into the future.