Screening your church

Michael Kellahan

"Why would you buy a data projector? Nobody uses data projectors anymore - well, churches do - but I only see them in churches."

This was news to me.

I'd met some guys in the city for breakfast to make some plans for a church plant in Castle Cove in 2013. As we spoke I quickly learnt how little I knew. I'd always chuckled at churches that were using overhead projectors in the 21st century - but hadn't realized that data projectors are now becoming yesterday's technology.

My friend could see I looked skeptical so he said to me: "think about it - where do you see data projectors? Not at the bank, not in the new corporate fitouts, not at the gym. The price of screens has dropped and dropped. Their picture is colourful and crisp in the brightest room. They can be portable. Small monitors can be mirrored for preachers and song leaders. They aren't as big as data projection but they are more than big enough for what we need."

There is probably a tech debate there I am clearly unqualified to contribute to, let alone adjudicate. And doubtless some Luddite naysayers will say we could just use paper. But the thing that struck me was the way my friend so easily saw the cultural gap between the technology of the church and the world. That caught my attention - how would newcomers view things? We wouldn't think of using an Overhead Projector anymore - would buying a data projector quickly be seen in the same light?

Now I don't want to put too much stock in these decisions. God is at work by his Spirit through his word as his people are gathered. That's what really counts. But... things like sound and lighting do create a vibe for good or ill. When the technology is old enough to be noticed it can become a distraction - even if it functions just the same as the newer technology.

Clearly I was never going to be distracted or notice a projector screen. I was only thinking of how to put words and images up in a church. And most churches I know use data projection. My friend however spends less time in churches than me. He spends more time in banks and offices and gyms. Just like the people we are trying to connect with.