Worship Technology Poll

March 6, 2006 by

How are worship song lyrics available in your church?Last week we asked about worship technology–specifically how the lyrics to worship songs are made available to the congregation. A whopping 69% use a big screen with fancy slides. Other methods include hymnals (16%), overhead projectors (6%), printing lyrics in the bulletin (4%) and some other method (4%).

Perhaps it’s because I’ve attended low-tech churches most of my life–the church I grew up in used an early 1980s hymnal and my current church prints songs in the bulletin–but 69% using a big screen seems high, especially considering the costs involved. It could be that our audience is slanted towards high-tech churches. Or it could be that I’m underestimating the church’s ability to adapt to the latest technology.

I guess the real question is if churches are putting those big screens to work, or if they’re just slapping lyrics on cheesy stock backgrounds of waterfalls and sunsets.

This week we ask about Lent, the 40 days before Easter that are often marked by somber reflection and fasting (thus giving something up).

Update: Or I suppose we could look at a recent church technology survey from September 2005: 62% of churches uses a large-screen projection system.

Post By:

Kevin D. Hendricks

When Kevin isn't busy as the editor of Church Marketing Sucks, he runs his own writing and editing company, Monkey Outta Nowhere. Kevin has been blogging since 1998, runs the hyperlocal site West St. Paul Reader, and has published several books, including 137 Books in One Year: How to Fall in Love With Reading, The Stephanies and all of our church communication books.
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11 Responses to “Worship Technology Poll”

  • Ben J Walker
    March 6, 2006

    Don’t forget that a prerequisite for voting on the poll is that you’re on the internet and therefore more likely to be a techy person!
    Still surpisingly high statistics though!

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  • David Springstead
    March 6, 2006

    I’ve found more and more churches using the screens with computer projection, but then I’m a United Methodist. And if your church is printing the music/words in the bulletin I have a question for you: Does the church have a licnese to do so? If not, then they are in violation of copyright.

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  • Anthony D. Coppedge
    March 6, 2006

    Having worked with hundreds of churches in regards to church media, I can tell you anecdotally that the increase is still on the rise, but that 69% is probably a bit high – but it’s easily at 50%+.
    Statistically, I can tell you that a scientific survey I helped created with TFCInfo (AV industry research firm) showed that churches upgrading electronic screens in worship is growing at an annual rate of 42%.
    This is the classic early adopter, early majority, late majority, late adopter model. We’re right now seeing the early majority making their second or third purchases while the late majority is making their first purchase of electronic screens..

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  • Paul
    March 6, 2006

    Sorry, but I think the survey is very skewed. A church that believes in reaching out to the community through marketing (and might have someone visit this site) is going to be a church that wants to provide an engaging worship experience. A church that is waiting for people to come to them (and has no interst in visiting a site about church marketing) also expects their people to accept their unchanging worship experience.

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  • Kevin D. Hendricks
    March 6, 2006

    That’s a pretty harsh assessment, Paul. Our results may well be skewed, but it sounds like you’re making the claim that churches using fancy projectors believe in reaching their community and churches that don’t are sitting back and waiting for people to come to them.
    Maybe that’s not what you’re saying, but c’mon. My church doesn’t have fancy technology but I think we still have an engaging worship experience.
    And David, wouldn’t the copyright issues still apply if you’re putting the lyrics up on a screen? I’m no licensing and copyright expert, but I’m pretty sure when churches get the rights to use songs, they usually get the rights to print them in bulletins, show the lyrics on screen, or whatever they need to do. It’s usually a package deal. Perhaps someone smarter than I could speak up in this area.

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  • matt
    March 6, 2006

    Not smarter than Kevin, but re: copyright, you’re absolutly right. Check out the Christian Copyright Licensing International website:


    David, if you’re projecting lyrics without license, you’re violating copyright law. This is from the CCLI site:
    The Church Copyright License is a contractual agreement with songwriters and publishers from around the world. For an annual license fee, a church receives legal authorization to copy from over 150,000 songs for congregational use. Churches can obtain a license that, according to the CCLI site, allows them to:
    Print songs, hymns and lyrics in bulletins, programs, liturgies and songsheets for use in congregational singing.
    Create your own customized songbooks or hymnals for use in congregational singing.
    Create overhead transparencies, slides or use any other format whereby song lyrics are visually projected (such as computer graphics and projection) for use in congregational singing.
    Arrange, print and copy your own arrangements (vocal and instrumental) of songs used for congregational singing, where no published version is available.
    Record your worship services (audio or video) provided you only record live music. Accompaniment tracks cannot be reproduced. You may charge up to $4 each for audiocassette tapes and CDs, and $12 each for videotapes and DVDs.
    CCLI also has a very useful video clip license.
    Hope this helps!

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  • Paul
    March 7, 2006

    Kevin, to clarify I wasn’t saying that ALL churches without a video projector are disinterested in reaching their community or having engaging worship. I was simply making a generalization that by and large churchs that are interested in quality, culturally relevant marketing and therefore interested in this site are far more likely to use video projectors than churches that do not engage in marketing. Every church may not fit neatly into one of those two categories, but I think you will find a strong correlation between marketing and video projectors, woulddn’t you?
    And for what it’s worth, my comment should be in no way interpreted as a criticism of the poll, it’s just a natural reflection of the site’s cutting-edge, outreach-focused audience.

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  • Gene
    March 8, 2006

    My experience, both visiting different churches and what people have said over on ChurchMedia.net is that a lot of churches using video projectors are just projecting the lyrics, and maybe announcements. They’re not taking advantage of the video screen as another way of teaching, to emphasize and augment the sermons with imagery. These days a church can get a video projector, borrow a laptop or get a low-cost desktop, and project on a blank spot of wall to get into projection. Not the ideal setup, but a lot of churches have done that as a small first step.
    (We project the entire service, both contemporary and traditional. The traditional service uses the full Lutheran liturgy, and the contemporary bits and pieces of it, and both project song lyrics, and images for the sermon. We’ve started designing the media around the sermon, so the images and songs all support it. But there’s more we can do, too.)

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    • Terri
      August 9, 2010

      We’ve noticed that people don’t focus on the sermon as well if we are projecting images on the wall during the sermon. While it may be pleasing to look at images, it doesn’t enhance the ability to listen and focus on the message. Just our observation.

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  • Matt S.
    March 11, 2006

    Ya know…I prefer not to see the videos and background behind the words. I like to create my own personal experience with God; I rather not experience the worship style or preference given by the “graphics team”.

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  • nicole rork
    August 29, 2007

    Modern Christianity = lame. They probably spend more money on technology than they do on researching for a good sermon.

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Poll Results