A New Kind of Worship Experience

by Nook Schoenfeld
in Editor's Note
Nook Schoenfeld, Editor, PLSN
Nook Schoenfeld, Editor, PLSN

I don’t spend a lot of time in church as I am booked on shows most weekends or flying home Sunday mornings. But it’s nice to visit various house of worships when I can. I like to see what experience these offer to people as well as check out the latest production equipment being used at these facilities. I will tell you this, if you want to check out some of the latest lighting and video technology on the market, you may not have to go very far from your own house to find it. It could be in use at the church on your corner.

‡‡         Sophisticated Productions

This month, we present our annual House of Worship issue. I spend a few months hunting for stories throughout America on designers who specialize in church lighting, companies that install these products and, of course, an extensive list of who’s using what gear. In the last month, I truly believe I have seen lighting fixtures and gear from every manufacturer from ADJ to ZFX and every letter in between.

There is no denying that churches are big business now, and that business is reaching out to as many people as possible with a religious message that can change peoples’ lives for the better. I scrolled through a list of the top 20 attended churches every week and I found the numbers of people showing up to be astounding.

But I’m told by many that we are in an era where fewer young people are attending traditional services. Whether they are bored of the same old thing or not believing at all, churches are noticing a lack of new faces in their congregation. But some church leaders are not standing idly by as former followers stray from the traditional path. They are creating exciting places for our youth to hang out instead.

Some modern day church services are turning into mini concerts. Religious artists are touring and bringing their own message and services to different locations that are often large arenas.

So many people are attending churches that have a 2,000 seat capacity. They may not be the mega church of the Joel Osteen type, with 7 million viewers, but many may have as many as six services every weekend that draw in well over 20,000 total worshipers.

‡‡         Rocking the Flock

This month I witnessed a moving ceremony held at Eagle Brook, a church with six different campuses outside my city. I saw emotions exhibited at this house of worship that I thought were atypical of a good old Southern Baptist gospel singing congregation. Instead of a choir serenading the congregation over a pipe organ, I witnessed hundreds of people swaying in time to electric guitars, thunderous bass beats and driving rhythms. The people were on their feet dancing and singing along to the lyrics on video screens. While nobody was falling to their knees and passing out from being worked up (as the Baptists are known to do on occasion), it was clear to see that everyone was having a good time. And of course, they had state-of-the-art broadcast studio facilities to get the message out and attract more people for the next week.

This month, PLSN takes a close look at churches in several regions of the country to see if they are doing the same thing in Maine that they are doing in Georgia, and to see what’s happening in California as well as Texas. The message is the same as it’s ever been, but the way it’s presented is a game-changer. To steal a line from an advertisement, “This is not your father’s Oldsmobile.”

For PLSN editor Nook Schoenfeld's video introduction to the Sept. 2017 issue, go to www.plsn.me/201709ednote.