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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Reality check

When deciding about using technology in worship, learn from the research — even if it conflicts with your assumptions.

Studies of many denominations by the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship, Grand Rapids, Mich., show that projection technologies don't contribute significantly to attracting youth or keeping them involved in a congregation's worship. Media-centric services can generate buzz and entice youth, but in the long run youth tend to be the biggest critics of adults' attempts to make worship relevant. Their operative description of high-tech worship is cheesy, partly because they know the production values can't compete with popular movies and video games.

Low-tech worship can be richly visual. Churches worldwide are growing quickly without any new-fangled technologies. They typically offer visually vibrant worship using the body and clothing to express joy.

Parallel to the rise of projection technologies today is a renewed emphasis on banners, interior decorating, vestments, sacred dance and visual presentation of the sacraments.

Buying and installing technology aren't likely to be the greatest expenses over time.
Computer-based systems aren't like pipe organs that can last centuries.

Most computer technologies must be replaced every three years and require training — and not just on how to push buttons. What are the principles of good graphic design? How can technologists work with pastors, worship leaders and musicians?

Too many churches turn over the use of projector technologies to those who simply don't have the wisdom to make good worship judgments. Investing in education — theological, organizational, liturgical and artistic — is necessary.


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