As president of Audio Ethics, you have been involved in the area of worship technologies for quite some time. What are the main challenges in designing proper worship environments?
The challenge for audio is the proper design for the worship style of the ministry. The dynamic range and frequency response needed vary greatly from one ministry to the next. So do the type of system and control. Video has progressed to the point of just how creative do you want to be; format no longer stifles what we can do architecturally. The point with presentation video is to communicate with as much impact as possible within the confines of the worship space. Video capture is also a consideration with how the platform and performance space are to be programmed. They have to be considered together and not as separate entities. Lighting is just now coming into common use, and lighting design can be just as big an issue to deal with as whether the ministry is going to keep hymns or go all-contemporary worship. The common compromise that has to be continually dealt with is lighting for feature and dramatic purpose for the live worship experience and lighting for broadcast or webcast. Prioritizing the ministry goals, I find, is a major tool in working these issues out.
Is there a recent project that provides a successful example of integrated, cutting-edge technology in the worship arena?
Calvary Revival Church in Norfolk, VA, is a good example of the excellent ministry using modern technology and media delivery methods. The church is and has been growing at an exponential rate, and one of the reasons is the impact the bishop has because of his delivery methods using modern tools.
How does surround sound enhance the worship experience?
The strongest use for surround is dramatic presentations, plays, and dramas. It can be used to put the congregation in the event being played out before them. It is also being used during the music portion of the worship service to fully immerse the congregation in sound. This can have great impact and even encourages the congregation to sing, which is the goal of every worship pastor.
How do you advise houses of worship on the proper systems for their needs?
We do this through a series of interviews with the pastoral staff and ministry heads. With almost 1,800 churches completed, we are very good at interpreting ministry vision and the passion of the local body. There is no “one size fits all” when it comes to modern church and ministry styles. Sure, every pastor has mentors and ministries that they look up to and model after, but each staff is drastically different and has different skill sets. A good design works with the ministry's vision, goals, and skill sets.
What does the future hold?
Technology is going to be even easier to work with. This is where we are going even today. A new term of design that we are currently working with is “augmented reality.” With this type of design, we are using new methods of communication that will be common in 10 to 15 years but today are not yet being implemented. I enjoy being on the cutting edge of communication technologies and like pushing the edge with finding more powerful ways to communicate and help ministries impact lives. The future is whatever your vision is. My job is to design and engineer it.