Why I Like Environmental Projection For The Church

Technology is cool. I am not going to hide it, in a lot of ways I am simply a big nerd. I am not much of a techie, but I do love to play with those gadgets that I will never understand. Of course, technology and the church have had a some what sordid relationship throughout history. There’s always debate about the values and benefits of various technological additions to the church. Exploring a theology of technology is a big task, perhaps I will interact with that subject one day, but that is not my goal in this post. Rather my goal is to highlight a new technology that I think can add something to our corporate worship experiences, it’s called Environmental Projection.

A few weeks ago I got to attend a Church Media University workshop in Dayton. It was interesting to see just what properly used technology could add to good communication in your worship service. Most compelling for me was when designer Camron Ware discussed how he could create environments to accommodate moods, themes, etc. in your church. Environmental projection is used to put images up on the walls of your auditorium which can totally transform the context. Ware spoke of his pastor preaching on Jesus in the wilderness and the effect it had on his communication to actually create the wilderness in the auditorium. People could see and almost feel what Jesus was experiencing. He says it added so much to the communication of the sermon. And this is the key point for me: aiding communication.

Ware showed us how he could turn your modern white-walled, sterile-looking, auditorium into a Gothic cathedral. He showed us how we could make it snow. He highlighted the easy way in which you change set designs for new sermon series simply through projection. All of it was fascinating but what grabbed me was the idea of communicating sermon points better.

Pastors, we are to preach to the whole person. We are to engage them not just with ears, but with eyes, with whole being. We are to help them experience the Word of God. And Environmental Projection is a fascinating way of aiding us in this process. Alone it would not do it, and even while I concede (more than readily) that without it we can still connect people with the living God of Scripture (indeed we must). But what a tool it can be in the hands of the church.

Imagine preaching on the parting of the red sea and projecting the parted waters up the wall. Would people not experience, even if in only illusory form, what Israel must have experienced. And won’t this experience drive home to our brains the reality of our awesome God? Imagine preaching on Nehemiah’s building of the temple wall and showing, throughout the service, the gradual rebuilding of that wall all around the congregation. Would they not sense better the commitment that Israel was making to the covenant of God through the rebuilding? Imagine any number of ideas that could be powerfully communicated and experienced through environmental projection. Imagine changing your sterile worship space into a cathedral that screams the beauty and majesty of an even better divine creator.

Now, I am not getting paid for this promotion, nor do I want to suggest that this is a must for churches. I firmly believe we can preach the gospel, disciple believers, and communicate God’s Word without any technology…indeed I believe we must do it. But once in awhile an idea comes along that can help the church and environmental projection has the potential, if used wisely, to aid the church. To that I say, thank you God for creative men, made in your image, like Camron Ware.

Check out Camron’s website Visual Worshiper for more info.

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