I’m sick and tired of looking at a box that lights up. My phone, my computer, my TV, my iPod… the list goes on. I know these have their place and are needed in today’s society, but I’m always reminded to make sure to look up at the world around us that God created. I think that mindset needs to translate into our church services, where we need to be aware of what our environment communicates during worship.
In almost every church I go into, I see two screens with lyrics to the worship song overlaid on a background. There’s nothing wrong with that. But outside of those screens are empty, white palettes called Sheetrock that are so underused it blows my mind.
I don’t think I’m the only one who feels this way, either. Many people show up on Sunday morning looking for a break from a constant assault of screen-sized messages. Instead of being drawn into a digital box, many want to be drawn into a peace and calmness. Historically the church has excelled at creating beautiful worship environments, from soaring cathedrals to stained glass, but that’s an entire history lesson we won’t get into now.
Why can’t we intentionally be using all the space within our corporate worship environment to point back to God and worship Him? The environment of a room itself can be a worship element, if we intentionally think about it. Personally, one of the strongest ways I worship corporately is through creating immersive worship environments, and it is for many people.
Instead of just relying on two square boxed-in screens to communicate visual worship, take the worship imagery and literally surround the congregation with it. Put yourself in a place other than four walls of a building, and be engulfed in stars or wheat fields or stained glass telling the message of the cross. It transcends denominations, ages, demographics and cultures.
The most interesting thing to learn, though, is that you don’t have to use projection or lighting to be effective in how you use your environment. Some churches have beautiful windows that let in the sunlight and let the congregation see out to the world while worshiping.
I think that is some of the greatest use of your environment! Hong Kong City Church is on the 75th floor of the second tallest building on Hong Kong Island. They have 360-degrees of windows overlooking the city and people below. Singing “God of the City” has a special meaning because it’s part of their environment.
That’s the type of environment that people leave wanting to tell their friends about. It’s a surreal experience, far removed from their daily life. They’re drawn into something bigger than themselves.
But you don’t have to have a space hundreds of feet in the air to create a worship experience worth sharing. Next time you start to plan for a Sunday service in your worship space, take a look up from the screen, and see how you could change your environment to create a holistic visual experience during worship. Grab a projector or a light or some fabric, and see what happens.