Does Your Congregation Experience Technically Transparent Worship? (Part 1)

worshipperWhat is technically transparent worship? I’m not the first to use the term. I’ve been thinking about this lately, having visited a number of churches and observing how they handle a service.

Technically transparent worship means someone coming into your church for either the first or the 1,000th time will not encounter technical or artistic issues that interfere with providing them a total, enveloping, immersive worship experience that prepares their mind and soul to be impacted by God. This is an ideal or a mission statement, if you will.

Too many times, I see churches say they want to do this but don’t want to go through the planning pains necessary to achieve this goal. Notice, I said this is an achievable goal. But only with hard work, planning and practice. Not to mention commitment from the entire service team, starting with the pastor, going through to the worship leader and their team, and the technical team.

Painful? Absolutely. If you’re not already at this level then expect some pain and discomfort leaving your comfort zone.

Here are the seven steps for developing technically transparent worship:

  1. Vision Casting
  2. Planning
  3. Organizing
  4. Practicing
  5. Implementing
  6. Troubleshooting
  7. Repeat steps 1-6

Step 1: Vision Casting

Vision Casting is when the team responsible for the church service environment determines how the environment should be set up to reflect the message that is going to be given. Vision casting starts with the pastor explaining what the content of the sermon is about and what the main point of the message is.

Bottom line: WHAT DO WE WANT THE CONGREGATION TO TAKE AWAY AND RETAIN? Once the team (pastor, worship leader, technical leader, design leader) understands what the point of the message is that’s when the fun begins.

It’s the pastor’s responsibility (it’s their sermon after all) to determine what the main point of the service is supposed to be. Then, communicate that to the team members as early as possible.  Note to Pastors: it isn’t a good idea to do this Friday and expect the team to be able to put together something wonderful and polished for Sunday.

Start out small. Vision cast the entire sermon series first. It’s usually easier to do it at a series level anyway. That way the congregation will have a specific theme across multiple Sundays. Cast it as early as possible and cast it as often as possible. Start thinking about the process for each sermon series even up to a year out. Don’t worry that things will change as the dates get closer. That’s a natural progression and to be expected.

Next Up, Planning.

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  1. says

    Hi Valerie! Thanks for the welcome!

    Wezlo, You are correct. I made an assumption that at some point the Pre-Vision casting would have taken place between the pastor/worship pastor and tech leadership. It is most definitely NOT a single service discussion but should be a continuing process of communication between the pastor and the worship and tech teams to ensure that the vision matches the execution. As Chris points out otherwise it is gimmicky and doesn’t do what it should do.

    The bottom line is that it really doesn’t matter what other churches do. Yes I freely admit to borrowing ideas from other churches and that’s not a bad thing if it fits into the vision and philosophy of what you’re trying to accomplish. What I want to caution churches against doing is, as Chris said, let’s do whatever the big churches are doing. Being authentic is significantly more important than being hip and current. I’ve seen congregations respond to what I would consider a substandard sound coming out of the worship team but where the worship team is worshipping their hearts out focused on the vision of the sermon and woven so intrinsically into the vision of the service that everyone is worshipping and communicating with God. That’s what’s the most important for what we do. Nothing else truly matters. Not hardware, not software, not fancy lights, not fancy whatever. It is the unerring, completely focused task of removing any distractions from the message and the mission.

    Okay I’m off my soapbox now! :)

  2. Valerie says

    Welcome Brian! I’m looking forward to continuing to learn more on this blog. I’m excited (and kinda worried) about this series. :)

  3. says

    As someone who has advocated for making technological integration as transparent as possible, may I suggest that you missed the most important steps. These would actually be PRE vision casting, which seems to be limited at the single service level in your write-up. It’s actually a double-beat step (kind of like a heart beat).

    Beat one: The root question

    Gather worship planners (or the whole congregation in smaller churches) and have an honest conversation on this question, “Why do we worship?” Or, better put, “What is our theology of worship?”

    Beat two: The work out

    This beat meditates on two questions. First is, “Why do we want to include this technology in worship?” Second is, “In what ways does this answer reflect our theology of worship?”

    Sometimes meditating on these questions might cause us to step back and say, “As cool as this is, and as much as it might fit what some other wonderful churches are doing, it’s not what Jesus is calling us to.” Other times we will come up with wonderful, Spirit given, reflections regarding technology inclusion – and will be truly transparent because of them. Either way, I think we would be blessed.

    My concern is, without these questions, ANY technology inclusion becomes little more than a gimmick.

    • says

      I won’t speak for Brian, and I’m sure he’ll reply soon enough. You raise good topics and they are points that Brian and I have discussed together over the years, as we have both seen people at churches try to be gimmicky. Pastors, worship leader, musicians, and yes, even audio video and lighting techs can get into the mindset of “let’s do what so-and-so is doing.” The reasoning is that it’s “cool” or “hip” or “what the big churches are doing.”

      Where I think Brian’s article comes into play is for churches that have “thrown together” services. With that, I mean there is no unity or theme. Everything that happens is put together at the last minute or without planning. For instance, the pastor is going to preach on what it means to worship (very uplifting sermon) and the band has planned a worship set of songs which focus on depravity. As far as tech stuff goes, I’ve seen that stuff thrown together or in many cases, they don’t know the needs of the band until the very last minute.

      • Clyde says

        Agree with the blog intent. One needs to get the basic tech stuff sorted. I would even say that no true follower wants to strategise what should a relatively spirit filled event into a Coke advert (planned to death) either.
        However from experience the latter is less of an occurrence. …/

        • says

          Clyde, that’s what I tried to spell out in this post. I’ve seen the regularly “thrown together” services which lead to musician’s who obviously did have time to practice the songs and even a feeling of disarray the congregation could feel. On the other end of the spectrum is the overly-produced service which can feel more like a concert. A pastor can spend days preparing a sermon and techs should also spend time on planning the service. I’ve been to a range of services and those that felt the most inviting for worship and open to the Spirit were those that were prepared, practiced, and presented as an offering with the worship leader and pastor having the ability to call out an audible because the Spirit called for it. The more technology and the more of a worship team that’s in place, the more important that preparation.