Not in My Congregation! - Issue #92
When First United Methodist Church in Shelbyville, Tennessee, decided to put projectors and screens into its sanctuary, there was great concern among long-time members that this would destroy their worship experience and ruin the church. However, through a careful introduction of this new technology, the screens are now a welcome enhancement to the 9:55 Sunday morning worship experience.
The pastor knew there would be some resistance to the change, so he talked to other churches that had added this new technology and heeded their advice. Here are three keys things First UMC Shelbyville did to successfully make this change:
- Most people equate video screens with contemporary worship, and they expect drums and guitars to be part of the package; but Shelbyville did not change it traditional service nor add new musical styles to the worship service. Instead, the church kept the same elements it had been using.
- They projected the prayers of confession, the Lord’s Prayer, and the words of the hymns onto the screens. They also intentionally used familiar hymns that were known by most people in the congregation and only occasionally used new contemporary songs.
- They didn’t go crazy with the technology during the sermon. From time to time, they used a video or a picture, but did not make the screens the focus of the sermon.
Six months later, the congregation has found that the screens greatly enhance the worship experience. Newcomers can easily follow the service, and long-time members like standing and singing without holding a hymnal. Now that the traditional service has embraced this change, the church is looking to add a new contemporary service in the fall.
Some Questions for Discussion
- How are new ideas introduced in your congregation?
- How might you use new technology in ways that honor the history and tradition of the church?
- What are the particular issues and concerns in your congregation that need to be acknowledged and respected when making a change to be more inviting to newcomers?