There is no single best AV set up for a house of worship, as every room layout (and every budget, and every set of goals) is different. Today, many congregations want to be able to do multi camera recording, host many types of musicians and performers, offer online streaming, and integrate videos during services or events. Many of these are complex processes that require multiple tools, and staff who is trained to use them.
Whether you are looking for a whole new AV system, or just want to add one new feature, there are the three important points that every house of worship needs to consider before they start shopping:
- Your Budget: How much do you have to spend, and what equipment do you currently have that can be repurposed?
- Your Time: Not only the time spent shopping for a new system, but also installing it, learning to use it, and training volunteers or staff in operating it.
- Your Goals: What are you using your AV system to do? Will you be recording your worship band, streaming your services, creating podcasts, service videos, testimony videos, welcome videos, or supporting special events?
With those three points in mind, you should be able to come up with an overall AV shopping list. Here are some of the items that you may be looking to purchase or upgrade:
A Mixing Console: The right console, or mixing board, will allow you to streamline both live service production and any recording projects. Newer consoles can often replace multiple pieces of older equipment, freeing up space and making sound operations and training much easier.
HD Projectors: Digital projectors have a wide range in size and price, from more affordable portable versions with integrated speakers, to larger models with new generation laser light sources. Consider the first three points mentioned above when choosing a projector: What can you afford? How easy is it to use and set-up? What will you be using it for – detailed projections in a large hall, or casual outdoor movie nights?
A Camera: If you are ready to upgrade from your point and shoot camera, take a look at an affordable DSLR camera, like the Canon EOS Rebel SL1. These types of cameras are affordable, yet shoot clear, crisp photos and movies, even in dim lighting.
Microphones: If you want to add new AV capabilities like podcasting or new worship band musicians, do you have the microphones that you need? Here are 5 resources that might be helpful in choosing the right microphones for your needs:
Converters: Most churches don’t have an unlimited budget to spend on AV gear as the trends and technology in worship services change. There are many converters available that will allow you to get the most out of the equipment they already have, like older speakers.
Other Ideas for Sharing Your Mission
Podcasting: One project that can increase your outreach without the expense and difficulty of live streaming your services is podcasting. You can easily make audio-only recordings of your services, and your clergy or lay leadership can also podcast on individual topics or events to share.
Social Media: You may not have to purchase free tools like Facebook Live or Periscope, but learning how to use them for education and outreach is a worthwhile investment. There are many free resources – both free and paid – for learning how to maximize your social media presence.
Where To Get Training For Your Church AV Staff
The most essential part of your church AV system is a well-trained staff. It is worthwhile to use part of your equipment budget to allow your AV staff and volunteers to learn from industry experts. Events like the Worship Facilities Conference and Expo, which offers a track in Tech Arts, can arm your team with new ideas, techniques and skills related to audio, video, lighting and streaming so you can make an immediate impact when you return. Full Compass’s own audio training expert, Kevin Peckham, was a speaker at this show, and if you are in hearing what Kevin had to say about wireless systems, check out Kevin’s presentation from WFX here.