Thinking Out Loud

January 9, 2014

Megachurch Miscellany

Filed under: Church, technology — Tags: , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 8:10 am

Lighthouse Church Florida at Church Stage Design Ideas

So on Saturday night we made a return visit to a large (redundant adjective) megachurch west of Toronto.  Here’s a few things that stand out after several days…

What do the colors mean?

A family of five had sat down just a few rows in front of us. When you’re visiting, you just assume everyone else is a regular attender. But after the service, the man approached an usher and asked, “What do the colors mean?”

It’s a standard feature of today’s modern church that as much or more will be spent on lighting as will be spent on sound. In this auditorium, LED panels on the stage are complemented by LED ‘pots’ on the walls; so the entire room changes from green, to blue, to yellow, to red — all at the same time — with a new color for each song.

The problem is, that in Anglican or Episcopal churches, the colors of the day mean something in reference to the church calendar. The color of the cloth that drapes the altar. The color of the stole rector wears. For that matter, the temples in some sci-fi stories often have walls that change color denoting something of deep significance.

It’s just not something Evangelicals would think about. The usher dismissed the question with “It’s just aesthetics,” but personally, I think that (a) it was a fair question and (b) it’s indicative of the wide range of people who are slipping into our church services.

Will that be smoking or non-smoking?

Honestly, the ushers at this place were a major distraction. I can now say I finally get the “Usher Contest” jokes that Garrison Keillor does. Many of the people in leadership in this church came out of a Baptist tradition. Maybe that explains it. Actually, they had been a distraction on our first visit as well, which you wouldn’t expect considering we had been sitting in the third row.

However… ushering a group of seven people from the very back to the very front in the middle of a prayer? Seriously. That one crossed a line for me.

I also now understand the 80% rule: When 80% of your seating is being used you are ‘comfortably full’ and people will continue to invite friends and/or become regulars. Over 80% and you’re starting to get a little crowded. This church already has three weekend services, so I don’t know what the solution is, but they were determined to pack people into every last chair from the front to the back.

Maybe that’s the problem.  They should fill the front completely before the service, and then let latecomers find seats nearer the back.

Oh…and this church really needs to get with the program when it comes to requesting people accustomed to wearing scented products to knock it off. It’s a new world, filled with new people with new kinds of environmental allergies. But we’ve already discussed that here and here. So we upset at least one usher by not moving in because Mrs. W. desperately needs to have an aisle seat.

Why are they wheeling in a giant screen TV?

Even though I watch Andy Stanley online each and every week, it never occurred to me that the giant monitor he teaches with is somewhat redundant in a large auditorium that already has a couple of Jumbotron-type screens.

So I’m watching on the mega screen as a man teaches pointing at a somewhat smaller screen, which of course, is being picked up by the mega screen.

Of the spending of money on A/V equipment by churches, there is no end.  The growth of megachurches means this is a great time to invest in companies that make sound and lighting and broadcast equipment for large auditoriums.

I thought perhaps the idea was to keep the preacher in the shot at all times, but then Mrs. W. correctly pointed out that earlier, the announcements had been done using a split screen, and with much clearer results. 

I guess the answer to this, as it often is where technology is concerned, is “because you can.”

Image: Lighthouse Church in Panama City, Florida; click image to read details at


  1. I know what you mean about scented products. There ought to be a law against spraying any sort of perfume in public places! It’s as bad as smoke. I hope those lights don’t flash. And what about flowers in church? I’ve never been to a megachurch, but the more people you have in a place the more likely it is that some of them will be affected by something in the surroundings.
    I’m likely to react badly to quite a few things and coughing in the choir is inconvenient, but I don’t let it put me off. Isn’t there a special Sunday sickness? Designed to keep people away from church. Here endeth the rant.

    Comment by suesconsideredtrifles — January 9, 2014 @ 4:21 pm

    • Hi Sue. Are there megachurches in England? I know the C. of E. follows more of a parish system; people are more likely to attend the closest church to their home, right? I’d be interested in getting a list of the top churches in the UK by attendance, and then checking out their media pages to hear some online sermons. The Christian blogosphere seems so dominated by what happens in the U.S.

      Comment by paulthinkingoutloud — January 9, 2014 @ 4:34 pm

      • Paul, I live at the back of beyond! There are some big churches. I’ll get back to you with some info, but it might take a while. The biggest church I ever attended regularly was 40 years ago. It needed to relay some services to the church hall during term-time. Sue

        Comment by suesconsideredtrifles — January 9, 2014 @ 4:50 pm

  2. Reblogged this on Church IT Australia and commented:
    We live in a technology driven age and for those of us with experience in church IT or media/production we don’t give it a second thought sometimes. But for those who turn up and sit in the pews every week, what is our use of technology saying? We need to come back to the “why do we do it?” question. If our answer isn’t a clear “to make disciples”, then maybe we need to rethink our usage habits. On the flip side, if we fail to engage people because of fear of using technology, then we need to rethink that too. It’s not about if we do or don’t, but how we best utilise the technology at our disposal.

    Comment by Neil Nuttall — March 6, 2014 @ 7:03 pm

    • Thanks Neil; I appreciate your comment and just looked around your website. I agree, we need to have an apologetic for everything we do, or else it’s meaningless.

      You’ve given me some good title ideas for future blog posts:
      “Mixing Sound to Make Disciples” or
      “Stage Lighting to Make Disciples”

      Comment by paulthinkingoutloud — March 6, 2014 @ 7:38 pm

      • Indeed. That what it should really be about. We shouldn’t just be doing things because it’s cool, or because it’s what all the other hip megachurches are doing. We should do it if, and in a way, that honours Jesus’ command to make disciples. To put it in marketing terms, does it add brand value?

        Comment by Neil Nuttall — March 6, 2014 @ 8:07 pm

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