Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Projecting Worship

Our church has been without a main projector for several months now. We have gotten by with a consumer grade projector setup in the first pew but not everyone can see it very well. We knew a new higher grade projector would not be cheap and the initial bid we got back was much higher than expected. We have sifted through an initial estimate and come up with a more reasonable solution. But it is still a significant expense and this raises the question whether its worth it.

Our desire is to create an appropriate environment to worship Jesus. The most important is that we preach Christ from the Word and that we exalt Christ with our voices, prayers, and sacraments. But we must make our worship accessible to visitors and outsiders. It is not enough that our worship exalts Jesus it also needs to be comprehensible to outsiders. We do not exalt Jesus for our own sake, but for the sake of the mission that all may know him and believe in him. This principle is observed in Acts 2:5, 12, 37 and 1 Cor. 14:23-25. Non-believers were expected to be in the worship service and that service ought to be intelligible, although not necessarily comfortable, for them.

But there are two concerns which are more apparent but they are secondary concerns. The first is if its a worthwhile investment and good stewardship of our resources. The second is whether it is aesthetically pleasing. It would be to view it from a pure practical standpoint to only consider it a stewardship issue. If one viewed it from the point of view of pure aesthetics and technology, money would be no concern at all. Clearly these two can be pitted against each other but it does not need to be so.

Putting all these concerns together, let me list several reasons why a projector is a worthwhile investment even though it will be a sacrificial gift for us.

1) God cares about art and that it is done well for its own sake. God created the heavens and the earth and all that is in them and called them very good (Gen. 1:31). The first account of someone being filled with Spirit was an artist, for the purpose of decorating the tabernacle (Ex. 31:1-11). God commanded art and technology to be used well in construction of the tabernacle and the temple (see Ex. 25-27). Technology is a part of the aesthetic and the technique employed for art. It does matter how it is done and different technologies communicate art differently. In our day, video makes our worship more accessible and over a 10 year life of a projector is not a significant cost difference versus printing lyrics on paper for everyone.

2) Our worship service is not just for the sake of worshipping Jesus for our enjoyment, but that he may be proclaimed to the nations (Is. 2:2-4; 56:6-8). We must consider how people outside of the church would perceive our service. Our aim is that the "secrets of the heart" (1 Cor. 14:25) may be revealed through our worship and proclamation of the gospel.

3) God is to be worshipped, not art or technology (Ex. 20:1-4). It can be used well to glorify him and reflect his creativity or idolatrously to reflect our rebellion against him. It is important for us to make our use of technology an aid to worship and maintain our feel of authenticity.

4) Doing things poorly excludes visitors and outsiders. This is the implication of making worship comprehensible to outsiders. Tim Keller makes the point that a poor worship service excludes people who do not have a relationship with the pastor or worship leader or anyone else in the church. Insiders are very forgiving of mistakes and poor quality because they have a relationship and know the challenges. But an outsider first notices what was done poorly. But when it is done reasonably well it includes people because it is not a distraction and demonstrates we went to some effort to make it accessible to them.

There is more that could be said but I am persuaded it is a worthwhile investment for us mostly because we can create a better worship experience and do so in a way to serve the mission. The only drawback is that it is a significant investment for our church at this time. Because of that our Elder Board has created three funding goals.

Goal 1 - If we are able to raise $35,000 we will be able to get a new projector system and basic lighting upgrades.
Goal 2 - If we are able to raise $50,000 we will be able to do a two projector system, accomplish some delayed audio maintenance, and improve audio and video in the chapel with inexpensive consumer grade equipment.

I am extremely happy to say more than 30% of our initial goal as already come in through some very generous donations. This means we only need another $23,000 in order to reach our "pull the trigger" goal.

Thank you so much for all your sacrificial gifts and continued support of our ministry. May the Lord be with you and enable us all to serve him in his mission of redemption.

Pastor Chris

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