No matter what else your worship service has – lights, sound equipment, rigged stage décor – one of the most basic tools that any church needs is a good projector and screen. While hymnals aren’t completely out of style yet, the push for more modern music has made them nearly moot. Unless you plan to print up bound copies of the contemporary songs you use for worship today, a projector is something you’ll be purchasing at some point.
As soon as you enter the world of projectors and screens, you’ll notice one thing: there are many options. But by taking into consideration your current needs, your projected future needs, your budget, and the style of your worship service, you will be able to find the perfect projector in no time.
Choosing a Projector
The first thing you need to think about when choosing a projector for your church is the height of the room. If you have a high ceiling, you’ll have a lot more flexibility for placement and positioning; however, you’ll want to be sure you use something that is easy to clean and maintain.
You should also consider the shape of the room. If it’s a long, narrow room, with seating that extends far from the front, you’ll need a larger projection. Rear projection is probably the best option in this case, because you’ll get the largest picture. If the room is shallow but wide, a widescreen rectangle shape is better for your projection, because it offers a wider view.
The lighting that is already in the room is another important factor to consider. Windows that allow daylight to come in can make it hard to see the projection, for example. You may need to move the projector closer, but unfortunately this makes the picture smaller on the screen. You can also purchase brighter projection lamps (for a hefty price in some cases). Depending on the location and the type of windows, you may want to try covering the windows in some way before investing in a brighter projector bulb.
Aside from the room itself, it’s also important to think about the use of the projector and screen. Does it need to be portable? If you’re a mobile church or you expect to use projected presentations for various functions outside of the church building, it would be a good idea to look into something can easily be stored, transported, and setup. On the other hand, if they will be permanently mounted in your sanctuary a factor to consider is the amount of cables needed for the projector and the mounting equipment for both the projector and the screen. Cables that are run along the floor can be a safety hazard to the congregation and they will likely experience damage over time so having them mounted in some way will alleviate this problem. I highly recommend consulting with a company that specializes in projectors, screens, and installation to find out what style of projector would work best for your church.
Choosing a Screen
The new developments in projector screens are really where your projected display will shine. Once you’ve committed to a specific projector, and found the right placement and positioning, there’s not much else you can do to create a better picture.
Some churches simply display their projections against a white wall, a whiteboard, or a neutral fabric drape. All of these options work perfectly. But a dedicated projection screen can allow for a clearer picture that is easier to utilize. For example, a screen that is sized perfectly for your projections will look far more professional than a display on a large blank wall.
Some churches are moving away from white screens for projection, and choosing gray screens instead. These screens allow you to enhance contrast for better visibility, which is easier on the eyes than just making everything brighter. They also help diffuse the effects of ambient light, so it’s easier to see in a room filled with windows or bright overhead lights.
Ask the church leadership if you’ll be using a permanent projection screen, or a moveable version. This is very important when choosing what type of screen fits your needs. If you frequently put on productions where scenery changes and wall space is required, you may not wish to mount an expensive projection screen. In these cases, a more temporary option, like stretched fabric or the blank wall, may be better.
It may take a little trial and error to find the best combination of projector and screen. By considering the room and lighting carefully before you buy, you’ll be able to cut back on the expense and time it takes to accent your worship service beautifully.