Thorington Road Baptist utilizes technology to enhance its worship servicescomment (0)
July 18, 2013
By Julie Payne
During the worship service, a crowd of about 300 spans a 700-mile distance without leaving their seats. Via live video projected on a big screen, the pastor interacts with several church members in Missouri on a missions trip. He asks one of the team members how the congregation can be praying for their work. Despite the distance, the congregation is able to receive ministry updates in real time.
A few Sundays later during the church’s patriotic service, a large, colorful visual of the American flag is cast upon the sanctuary walls during a moving rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
These are just some of the many ways Thorington Road Baptist Church, Montgomery, is implementing technology as a tool for worship.
Josh Spivey, Thorington Road Baptist’s associate pastor/praise and worship, has spearheaded the use of various technologies and upgrades. “We’ve ventured into the digital world,” he said of the church, which averages about 300 in attendance. “We were analog with pretty much everything up until this year.”
Thorington Road Baptist’s incorporation of various technologies may be typical nowadays for a megachurch, but it is more unusual to see in churches the size of Thorington Road. However, Spivey noted what the church has integrated at its campus “isn’t complicated.”
“As far as what we’re doing, it’s not impossible for any church of any size to do it,” he said. The key, he noted, is to have someone in the church who understands it all and has a vision.
Spivey said one of the church’s first projects was making some needed upgrades to its sanctuary’s sound system. A second project focused on lighting. When Spivey first arrived at Thorington Road, he said some of the sanctuary’s primary lighting controls were basic dimmer knob switches on the wall. “We actually are computer-operated now via touch screen monitor,” Spivey said. “We can literally tap each light and tell each light what to do.” He added that different lighting schemes for the sanctuary can now be pre-programmed with the new system.
The church also has upgraded its visual software, which is used, for example, to display song lyrics on the sanctuary’s large center screen.
Another notable addition the church has incorporated is an Environmental Projection system. Spivey said that instead of using LED lights that only project three colors, projectors are now used that provide any color in the sanctuary setting and can even project images and patterns on the walls when desired for a particular effect. This system “gives us no limitations whatsoever,” he noted.
When used tastefully, various technologies can “accent what you’re doing,” Spivey said. “That’s really what we’re going for. We don’t want it to be a distraction. We never want to do anything to deter someone from focusing on the Lord.”
Pastor Wade Rials said Spivey has done an incredible job of implementing the new elements and echoed Spivey’s sentiment that the goal is to use the technologies so people will be focused on what’s most important. Technology is just a resource, Rials said, adding, “I want to use every resource we have available and promote the gospel.”
Rials also noted using various technologies within the church setting offers opportunities for members to exercise their God-given gifts. He said there are people in his church who are equipped in the world of technology and are using the gifts God has wired them to use. “People come from so many walks of life — He wants us to use our own abilities and personalities together to promote the gospel,” Rials said.
The use of these various technologies and upgrades also has church members noticing and appreciating the changes, Spivey added. “They can see the difference. Whether they are technical or not, they can tell this is better.”
And Spivey noted some behind-the-scenes benefits of the upgrades. For example, with four praise teams that rotate out each Sunday, he said the church’s new digital soundboard allows the sound settings for each particular team to be stored for future use, a time-saver for the sound technician. And in the past when the church needed to bring down the sanctuary lights in order to show a video or other presentation, someone was required to man the wall’s dimmer switches. But that’s no longer the case thanks to the new lighting capabilities, he said.
Rials also noted that perceptions about the cost of technologies can sometimes scare people away but that a church isn’t required to spend a fortune to use them properly.
“I think the key is that we do whatever we do as unto the Lord, which is we do it well,” Rials said. “I think the same logic applies to what we’re doing here with our technology.” The tech team members use their skills professionally, “so why don’t we allow them to do those things to the best of their abilities?”
Technology is a tool, Rials added. And as long as it’s kept in perspective, it can be a wonderful tool, he said.