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Church Sound: When Our Tech World Is Turned Upside Down

Sometimes things can be going so well and then something goes wrong.

By Gary Zandstra December 12, 2018

Image courtesy of Rodrigo Campos

Most of us who have been involved in church production have had at least one mistake or failure during a service (I have many), where you just want to disappear in the booth.

One of my most egregious mistakes took place a number of years ago. It was so significant that I still wear the scars from it.

Back in “the day”—when video projection was almost nonexistent because of the huge cost of projectors—I was serving on staff at a large church that used 35 millimeter slides for the visual presentation elements of the service. All of our worship songs, hymns and even the sermon notes were made into slides and projected on a large rear projection screen centered on the wall behind the worship platform (we didn’t dare call it a stage in those days).

This article is provided by Gary

On special occasions a slide presentation would be put together to tell the story about and highlight a ministry opportunity or special church event. For the mission conference that year, I put together a 4-projector slide presentation that highlighted the church’s involvement in bringing to a remote group of people who had never heard the gospel a special radio program in their native language.

On the first Sunday of the conference we showed the video, I mean slide presentation (the senior pastor always referred to slide presentations as videos). The mission’s pastor liked what I put together using charts and graphs to visually tell the story. He liked it so much that he asked me to transfer it to VHS video tape so he could have it duplicated to give to other churches that he was planning on asking to partner on this project.

I was flattered and quickly set about transferring the slide show to video. In “the day” we were so high tech (not) that we transferred slides presentations to video via projecting the slides on the wall and recording them to video tape. No editing (we had no video editing equipment) or anything special, just tie the audio track into the camera’s audio input and let it rip. So I went and flipped all of the slides around in all 4 of the slide trays (to record to video we projected via front projection on a white wall as it provided better color saturation than our rear projection set up).

The mission conference continued on all that week and was a great success. The mission’s pastor was thrilled with the VHS copy of the slide presentation, and I have to admit I was feeling proud of the work that I had done.

If the accolades from the mission’s pastor were not enough, the senior pastor asked me about 10 minutes before the start of the closing Sunday night service of the conference if we could show the “video” (I knew he meant slide show) again. He went on to say how he also, was impressed with the nice graphs and charts that made up about 80 percent of the slide presentation. I was totally flattered! Wow, he liked it enough to have it shown again!

Additionally, I could not believe he was going to add it into the service, because at the conference time was always at a premium! We were committed to keeping the services to about 1 hour in length, and with missionaries giving updates and the recognition of the missionaries in attendance time was always a precious commodity.

Glowing with pride, just being affirmed for my work I immediately put together a plan to show the slide presentation during the service.

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About Gary

Gary Zandstra
Gary Zandstra

Consultant, Dan Vos Construction, Writer for Worship Facilities and ProSoundWeb
Gary Zandstra has worked in church production and as an AV systems integrator for more than 35 years. He’s also contributed numerous articles to ProSoundWeb over the past decade.


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