We all know that Covid-19 affected everyone in a major way. The health crisis brought terms like “lockdown” and “quarantine,” once reserved for science fiction movies, into our modern vernacular. People from all walks, groups, and industry were affected; most even brought to a halt. One of the most affected organizations in our society to be affected though were houses of worship. Places intended for community, fellowship, and worship were grounded to a halt from one week to the next. However, as humans do, we adapted.
Like many, the pandemic affected me personally. I serve as the technical director for my church where my week-to-week duties were to ensure all our systems were running smoothly for Sunday worship services. Then suddenly, Sunday gatherings were no more, and our team was left wondering what to do next.
My personal history lies in audio systems. It is something I have practiced for many years and am to this day fascinated by. But audio alone was not going to cut it in the pandemic. I quickly had to pivot and learn the other side of the coin for AV, video. Our church at the time had a couple of cheap cameras and mediocre audio setup for our small streaming community. Mainly intended for the elderly or those who were not able to make it to church for various health or personal matters. I, like most others in my position, had to quickly get myself up to speed in March of 2020 when that became the only option for attending Church.
Now Television has been around since the late 1920s-early 1930s. It is a technology nearly 100 years old yet houses of worship who used it as a tool was reserved for only a few with large budgets. Local houses of worship either did not find a need for broadcasting their services or just simply assumed it was out of their budget. The jury was also out on streaming due to fear that it would compete with in person attendance and possibly affect donations, the main source of operating income needed for a non-profit house of worship to operate.
However, these notions are contrary to the reality. As the pandemic raged on, the house of worship sector needed a solution to continue to keep their communities fellowshipping together. Many congregations looked to video conferencing solutions such as Zoom to keep their congregation connected. Others explored the broadcasting technologies deeper, mimicking what you may see in a professional television studio on a smaller scale. I do feel that as the exploration happened, most houses of worship saw that these systems were more obtainable than they had initially thought.
Like most new technologies, there is always some hesitancy. Telegram to telephone, horse and buggy to automobile. There will always be speculation on what is truly going to last as well as what will a new technology replace. In our case, much of the house of worship sector has gone from in person worship services, to full blown multi camera setups with volunteer operators and online communities. What happened was a shift in the mindset of using this video technology as a tool for the local church, rather than something you are competing against.
The good news is that many of my experiences working with local churches has been quite pleasant. They realize they have a great new way of communicating to a congregation both known and unknown. People watching from out of state that may or may not have ever attended the service in the past. A greater opportunity to get their message out beyond their geographical location. There is even the element of online giving which is easily obtainable in an age where electronically transferred funds is getting easier by the day.
In the end, video streaming technology and its benefits in the house of worship sector is here to stay. The tides have turned after the pandemic and video is a tool that should be considered at the top of the docket in any board or parishioners meeting. When the purpose of houses of worship is to bring together a community of people, why not consider casting that net wider?
Nick Hreczny is the owner of Resound Technologies, a firm focused on integrating audio and video systems with a major focus and expertise in the house of worship vertical. For more information, please visit www.ResoundTechnologies.com