TFWM and the Technologies for Worship Pavilion® and Conferences recently returned from a successful exhibition ‘across the pond’ at PLASA 2007, London UK. After last year’s well-received inaugural event, the Technologies for Worship Conferences expanded in 2007 to include more break-out seminars, a larger pavilion and Quiet Stage®, and added more hands-on workshops to meet demand.
“I was at PLASA four years ago and I can’t remember seeing one church represented.” states Tom Bullard, Vice President of Special Projects, Audio Ethics, Inc. “The attendance from churches has increased exponentially, and I believe that’s a direct result of TFWM’s involvement,”
Shelagh Rogers, President and Founder of TFWM and the Technologies for Worship Pavilion® and Conferences agrees. “The increase in church attendance from last year has been a clear indication of the growth that is happening within the worship market in the UK. This year, we had technical teams and volunteers represented at the conference, along with several pastors and leaders. This is good, because it means that our attendees are gaining a solid appreciation of what it means to have a technical budget. Churches have begun leading the charge in driving technical excellence because they realize how important it is to ensure every service is top quality.”
Dan Garrett, who is Director of Trade Shows and Conferences with TFWM, was also very encouraged by the success at PLASA 2007. “With packed seminars and a full display of current audio and video communication tools, the TFWM Pavilion® and Conferences took another important step forward at the recent PLASA show in London. Several hundred churches from the UK learned new and important ways to communicate their message to peoples of faith in their communities. Through conversations with conference attendees, we continually found new evidence of rapid growth in the contemporary UK church. PLASA 2007 was a very strong growth show for TFWM.”
While technical directors on the whole are becoming more savvy as a result of the training that is offered through avenues like TFWM and the Technologies for Worship Pavilion® and Conferences, the TFWM staff are learning a lot too.
“Churches in the UK are far older than in the United States,” explains Kevin Rogers Cobus, the editor of TFWM. “During one of Donnie Haulk’s (Audio Ethics) sessions, attendees were asked to identify the age of the church they worked in, and answers ranged from 200 right up to 1,200 years old. Obviously, what we’re learning is that European churches have different challenges facing them in terms of incorporating contemporary music and worship-they were designed for a different style of worship than what is implemented now. We’re going to be taking all these aspects into consideration when putting future seminar tracks together and we will establish sessions that will be able to address these unique needs.”
Bill Brown, Multimedia Coordinator at Kings Church Free Methodist, was one of the attendees at this year’s TFWM seminars at PLASA. Kings Church Free Methodist sets up every weekend for Sunday worship at an All-Girls High School. At the end of their services, they have to roll all their gear out until the following weekend, when set-up begins all over again.
Brown’s mission at the conference was to find technical means by which to facilitate the process of setting up and tearing down their church once a week. Kings Church Free Methodist uses three video screens at their gatherings, all of which are lit up with presentation software for background imagery, use DVD to promote upcoming sermon series, and podcast their sermons online at www.kingschurchfm.org.uk
Currently, their church has 200 members, with plans for future expansion. When they reach a point of having grown out of their current facility, they are going to either start running multiple services, or have some of their members branch out and plant another church nearby. Building a permanent facility is also under consideration. “If God wants us to build a church, then we will build one,” affirms Brown.
With their open philosophy to outreach using avenues like dynamic worship, podcasting and DVD distribution, it may in fact come down to that. If that becomes the case, Brown maintains that the TFWM sessions at PLASA have helped move that process forward considerably.
“The sessions offered here were brilliant.” he says. “The thing I have found most helpful is the blending of team building with technical information.” Brown himself is not a technical person. But, he knows people that are, and he brings them in to run the technical programs at the church. “What this conference has given me is the ability to bring back materials to other members and put everything into perspective. I can use the speakers’ professional background as leverage when conveying the info back to my team. The conference has given me so many ideas that I can use right away.”
Sessions offered at the conference ranged from “Dynamic Praise and Worship”, “Video Software Comparison”, “Effective Lighting on A Budget” and much more. There were also mini-workshops offered in the pavilion space which covered line array technology and digital mixing techniques. At any moment throughout the conference, there was something going on at the pavilion. Attendees have their pick of several top-level technically educational classes, live performances, software demonstrations and hands-on product workshops.
“Our mission is to educate Houses of Worship on the various technologies that are available to them, technologies they can be using in worship to augment and grow their ministry,” comments Shelagh Rogers. “Every conference we participate in provides us with the opportunity to fulfill our mission. Whether we’re able to help one church or one-million, every step forward is exciting for us. We’re thrilled that we can provide the information Houses of Worship need to embrace today’s technologies for their ministry.”