Expansion 'How-To' Part III – Realizing the Vision

In Uncategorizedby tfwm

This is the last of three articles, which describes the process when building a church facility.

Your hypothetical church, Growing in Christ Fellowship, has for the last 21 months watched the original vision unfold in concrete and steel. When you began planning for your new 4000 seat sanctuary and new church plant on 27 acres of land, you knew that the project was going to be a huge undertaking, and that you would be dependent on many outsiders for their expertise. Now it’s time for the payoff.

As you walk around your new facility, scores of tradesmen are working on the interior fitout. Painting, tiling, carpeting, installing seats; in fact, a staggering amount of detail work is moving forward. Outside, the landscape contractor is planting trees, installing sprinkler systems and preparing to lay down sod. It is an impressive array of detail. In just five weeks you are planning your inaugural celebration, and are also a major all-day event, which will kick off in the new sanctuary with your present congregation and hundreds of invited guests. Then, you have an all day open house and three celebrations, which are scheduled in the sanctuary at three-hour intervals. It is an exhausting and ambitious undertaking, but a full year has gone into planning and rehearsing for all of this.

Your AV contractor has been on site for two weeks already, and the stage rigging and I-MAG screens have already been installed. The equipment racks and cabinetry for the control rooms are being delivered today. To your surprise, the systems were already built and tested at the contractor’s facilities, over 800 miles away. Even though the rigging and cabling crews were on site doing their jobs, a separate team of engineering technicians were assembling the technology and making sure that any errors were corrected BEFORE shipping. For you, that means you are not paying the expense of keeping a large number of people at your location for many weeks. In fact, the company only sent three employees for the rigging and cabling part of the job. The other personnel were hired locally, again saving you money.

So, what has your $3.9 million media budget bought you? In general terms, this is what you have in your price breakdown:

The sound system for the main sanctuary was a total of $800,000. That included the 164 mic positions on the stage, split to three locations; the 84 channel automated Front of House console, the 48 channel stage monitor mix position and the 64 channel TV console. You have elected not to build a separate audio recording control room, since TV will be your primary outreach tool, and vocal recording can be done in a rented studio at much less cost, with better acoustic results.

Your stage housing and rigging, and the lighting package, with 48 2K dimmer packs and several dozen motorized fixtures, plus the fixed lighting for production and TV was a costly $400,000.

Your sanctuary will have two large projectors which will be equipped with HiDef input modules illuminating 35′ wide 16X9 HiDef screens, and one 44′ wide 16X9 screen with two stacked high power projectors. This system cost a total of $750,000.

Your original plan for a High Definition television facility has been deferred due to the slow introduction of the technology into the marketplace. You have decided to wait until the marketplace is comfortable with the technology before you commit the dollars. Once HiDef DVDs are readily available, (probably in 18 months or so), then you will buy the lenses and other high cost items. You have a total of six fixed location cameras and three hand held cameras, with a Jib arm for one of them. Your basic system will have a HiDef foundation. One of your hand-held cameras and one of your fixed cameras will be HiDef now, but the remaining system will not be upgraded until later. Your production switcher and tape equipment is SDI/ SDI-HD compatible, and your plan is to do occasional special features using the two HiDef cameras and your editing facilities, which are HD-SDI from the start. Your total investment is $1.2 million for the production systems and $450,000 for the hard drive array based editing and media management systems. The remaining $350,000 went into buying the streaming server for your internet site, in house MATV system and the DVD duplication equipment. All in all, you got a lot for your technology dollars.

Your technical people have come along side the installation team, not to help “wire-it-up”, but to watch and be available for questions and errands. Running out for a cup of coffee or having pizza together will form a bond over the next few weeks, which will enable you to get the most from the training, which is included in the cost of the systems. Strengthened on every available occasion the friendship will serve to make the first weeks of on-your-own operations smooth and rewarding.

It is now two weeks until the big day. Training starts today, and for 10 days individual and team training activities will insure that your confidence is built for that oh-so-very-ambitious inaugural day. Of course, your team has many volunteers, and the old operation must still continue, so the process of training is stretched to accommodate the many scheduling demands, not to mention employment needs, of the entire technical staff.

You have scheduled the week before opening for pre-production videotaping and the Friday and Saturday before the Sunday inaugural as technical rehearsal days, and everyone is excited. The exterior of the building is complete, and today you have rented a helicopter for three hours and spent the time using the HiDef hand held camera with a rented gyroscopic stabilizer to record opening shots and footage of both the old and new facilities for the opening day presentation, and use later as the opening video for future productions.

Now that Friday morning is here, it is time for the crew to practice. The sound system has been equalized, the video systems and projectors are up and running, and all but one fixed camera and one videotape machine are operational and a few minor pieces of equipment are not working perfectly. The contractor believes the camera problem will be fixed later today when a replacement module arrives by FedEx, and a replacement VTR rented by the contractor will be picked up in a few hours. The sound guy has already had several days training on the new system, and the video engineer and the director have been producing material all week on the systems, so they are already comfortable with their new tools (or is that toys?)

Friday evening arrives, and you finally have talent in front of the cameras and holding microphones. The first few run-throughs are spent stopping and re-starting as eq’s are set up, cameramen get used to the controls, and everyone gets over a case of nerves. All in all, it went very well, and no new technical problems cropped up. Saturday will be a full rehearsal, and everyone’s last chance to get it together. This week the employees of the church averaged 4-1/2 hours of sleep per night, so the adrenaline will have to keep everyone going.

The Senior Pastor has been seemingly everywhere, encouraging, serving, occasionally snapping in frustration, but genuinely overwhelmed by the enthusiasm that everyone has for this new venture. Saturday morning begins with an extended prayer session involving all who could be there. Tomorrow will launch a new era for Growing in Christ Fellowship.

Fifteen minutes into the opening music rehearsals, the monitor console fails. Looks like a blown power supply. Panic sets in with your sound guy, but the contractor has done enough opening days to know that this is the unexpected event which he always expects to happen. He has packed numerous spare power supplies for various key pieces of equipment, since this is one of the most common infant mortalities. It is only a matter of a half hour and you are back in operation. The rest of the day goes smoothly, at least technically. Some of the performances are a bit weak, but probably will smooth out with practice and the rush of live performance.

At last, inauguration Sunday. With the AV design technicians at your side, and butterflies in your stomach, you hit the VTR play button to start the opening video. The helicopter flyover looks spectacular on your center 44′ wide HiDef screen. For an instant you can hear the collective breath of awe as 4,000 people inside, and another 1,100 people in overflow locations realize just how much there is to the new plant. After the opening video and an invocation by the national head of your denomination, your Pastor begins his welcome to all attending by re-stating the vision, which launched this entire process over three years ago. As he speaks, you and the rest of your team go over your mental check list, and are amazed at the way in which God has led you all to participate in His vision for your ministry, and how much the material realization of this vision is, in fact, the vision itself.

Three years of work have given legs to what was once a passionate conversation about the future of Growing in Christ Fellowship. Your church team, along with the architectural and media design team you have engaged, are witnessing the miracle of a vision given form.