While some would say that ‘architectural projection’ is simply one more case of the church being five years behind culture, the fact remains that this element is still relatively new to the church at large. The projection of secondary film and effects onto walls has been around for many years in both concert culture and the club scene, but for worship, it’s still pretty fresh.
Architectural projection (from here on out, referred to as ‘AP’) within the church typically means having additional projectors that feed footage onto other areas of the worship space. These projections run separately from the lyrical or image-magnification projection that we’re used to seeing in a lot of churches.
Let’s start by answering the question: why do we need architectural projection?
AP isn’t vital to God-honoring, Biblically sound worship. But neither are drums. Or khakis. Or a lot of things.
But if your church is currently using (or wants to use) AP, there are some things to think about that could possibly be a valuable addition to your church.
- Know The Need. I like things that look or sound cool and creative, but if you’re gonna’ shell out some cash for an AP setup, let me suggest that the one thing your people DON’T need is distraction. Can we all just be honest for a minute and admit that most of the time, our people are distracted enough all on their own without a light show in the mix? If you’re going to ask more involvement from all of those eyes out in the crowd, why not put something in front of them that we all need. Scripture.
It amazes me how little I see scripture used in AP. I see lots of cool light washes and occasionally some words drifting around (“Grace….” “Hope….” “Sing….”) but no scripture. I’m not trying to be a Bible nerd here (okay, that’s not true…) but your people need scripture. They need it every day. They need it multiple times during a day. If you going to do something captivating and memorable, why not let them see something inerrant and reliable. (Unless you don’t believe scripture is inerrant. Then you might be at the wrong blog.)
Invest some time during your set preparation to find some applicable scripture to use in your AP setup. I bet that folks will respond much more strongly (and with better memory) to God’ Word than they do to random lines of lyric.
- What’s Good For The Guitarist. Why do churches with AP run it constantly? After about 2 Sundays, doesn’t it start to lose something? Worship leaders, do you let your guitarist play open chords with his bad-to-the-bone overdrive pedal on every song, every week?
Why not? Because you understand the role of dynamics – of creating something fresh and interesting each week. Isn’t it odd that folks trying to add something ‘creative’ end up running it full-bore constantly? That’s not creative…that’s a gimmick. And it doesn’t work.
Find some cool ways to get AP to disappear for awhile. Use it like you would any worship element – making the decision to include it when it benefits the congregation by directing them to God.
- Grow In Creativity. With something as fluid and editable as most AP setups, make sure that you and your team are growing creatively. Sadly, many church buy the AP “kit” and never invest any time or money into adapting that system to become as helpful as it can. If you’ve got an AP setup and you’re still running the same loops and effects that came with your setup, try some new stuff.
This is especially important if you have other people running the system. Before diving headlong into AP, make sure you’ve got folks behind the computer who will take ownership of it and run with it.
If your church uses this sort of additional projection setup, I’d love to know what you think. What’s worked? What hasn’t? What are some challenges and ways to combat them?