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High-tech’s sway expands in church worship services

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–A growing number of churches are integrating modern technology into their worship services to keep up with the changing times and enhance the worship experience, as featured in a recent New York Times article.

Though the trend comes as no surprise to churchgoers who have become accustomed to song lyrics superimposed over live shots of the choir or video of the pastor displayed on screens in clear view even of members with a bad seat, the mainstream media has taken notice.

Houses of worship all over the country are going high-tech in a variety of ways, from digital sound systems to PowerPoint sermon outlines to multiple remote cameras that send out live webcasts, The Times reported in its Circuits section May 16.

“Churches, just like everybody else, are looking at the power of their communications,” Randal Lemke, executive director of an audiovisual industry group based in Fairfax, Va., told The Times. “They’ve got young people coming up who are very visual. They’re trying to use the same technology that people are using in businesses and in entertainment.”

The newspaper highlighted the Rock, an interdenominational Christian church in Roseville, Calif., that has used technology to make the sermons a dialogue instead of a monologue. The 330-seat sanctuary installed a big-screen television and integrated keypads built into seat armrests. The buttons on the keypads allow the congregation to answer multiple-choice questions asked by the pastor during the service.

According to The Times, the answers, which often respond to issues such as emotional abuse or spending habits, are quickly compiled into percentages. The pastor then directs his sermon according to the responses in order to best address the congregation’s concerns.

The technological advances prove to be appealing to all age groups, The Times noted.

“Generally, with high-tech kind of stuff, I tend to think of young people as being the most impacted,” Rusty Taylor, the business administrator at Frazer Memorial United Methodist Church in Montgomery, Ala., told The Times. “But quite frankly, what I’m finding is that it’s the older people who really enjoy it because it magnifies the words for them and gives them close-up pictures or gives them a good seat no matter where they sit.”

Despite the excitement that surrounds the new technology, most churches agree that getting the message out is the goal, regardless of the medium.

“The message hasn’t changed in 2,000 years,” Robert Scott, a sales manager with a design group that has worked on church systems around the country, told The Times. “The way we deliver the message to our congregations — that’s what’s changing.”

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  • Erin Curry