Corporations around the world are adapting to the hybrid workplace. Schools and universities have introduced hyflex classrooms. But what about houses of worship? Has church gone hybrid, too?
In this blog we’ll explore how the pandemic has changed the worship experience—and how houses of worship can make their services available to all parishioners, everywhere.
Remote Worship Services Are Here to Stay
The pandemic meant houses of worship had to get creative to enable their members to keep “attending” services. Drive up church, drive thru church, streaming services, and on-demand sermons all became part of the worship experience.
Now that parishioners are starting to return to in-person services, it may seem that church has gone back to normal. The audiovisual needs of houses of worship, however, have changed for good.
“Moving forward, many houses of worship leaders will realize that people engaging from home or other places count just as much as those attending in a facility,” said Rick Renner, Director, Pro Audio Sales, UCANZ, Shure. “Many growing churches might see off-facility attendance eclipse facility-based attendance. Churches will continue to embrace online viewing from home…so it’s critical to have a strong streaming experience for your members.”
According to Ashley Smith, Regional Sales Manager with Biamp, houses of worship have always needed to support remote attendees, whether it was a prison ministry or reaching elderly parishioners in care facilities or hospitals. The pandemic just put a greater emphasis on the need to improve the quality of the remote worship experience.
Houses of Worship Face Challenges to Providing Equitable Remote Experiences
Houses of worship may have embraced remote and streaming worship services, but they still face challenges to delivering an equitable virtual experience. These include:
Poor audio quality. Many smaller churches are using smartphones or tablets to broadcast services over free platforms like Facebook Live or YouTube. The problem? Microphones on those devices are not designed to deliver high quality audio.
“Instead of clear audio, remote members hear muffled words and a lot of background noise,” Renner said. “The engagement can be pretty low for the remote viewer.”
Unreliable video streaming. Most houses of worship don’t have enough bandwidth for consistent live streaming, which results in network lag. Services may not stream smoothly, and low quality cameras can make the video end up blurry, grainy, too dark, or too bright.
No networked audio and video. In-person worship services still have to adhere to social distancing requirements, which means overflow spaces are in much higher use.
“There’s an increased emphasis on extending the experience taking place in the sanctuary to other areas within the building or around the campus,” said Smith. “It could easily be upwards of 20-25 displays when you begin broadcasting to cry and nursing rooms, children’s facilities, youth facilities, even individual offices.”
Houses of worship don’t usually have the networked audio and video they need to support multiple streams and displays.
These AV Upgrades Can Improve the Virtual Worship Experience
Simple, and in many cases inexpensive, audiovisual upgrades can help houses of worship improve the worship experience for both in-person and remote attendees. Here are some AV improvements to consider:
High quality microphones. Modern houses of worship need microphone solutions that are designed to capture speakers and other vocalists.
“Your microphones are vital in the audio chain for getting the message out to the live congregation, anyone listening from another campus, or remote parishioners streaming from their mobile devices,” said Renner. “Choosing the best microphones for your pastor and musicians is essential to ensure crystal-clear audio and the highest intelligibility for all congregants, no matter their location.”
Higher-end cameras. Houses of worship need cameras that let viewers everywhere see what’s going on, but that doesn’t necessarily mean a massive investment in new video equipment. Something as simple as a higher-end smartphone can work well for basic live streaming, and is ideal for smaller churches with a limited budget.
Networked audio and video. Networked AV makes it easy to stream worship services to any number of overflow locations, while also creating an identical worship experience for all attendees regardless of where they are gathered.
Get Must-Have Capabilities for Your House of Worship
Whatever capabilities your house of worship has settled on to deliver hybrid services, PSNI Certified Service Providers can help you get the AV tools you need. Start preparing for the new normal of hybrid worship services by getting in touch with your nearest PSNI Certified Service Provider today.