Audio, video, lighting, and acoustics (AVLA) within the church have been a nightmare for many pastors and worship leaders over the years. With the changing of worship styles, many times the AVL systems that are being used were never intended for the style for which they are being implemented.
I have told the story many times of a pastor friend of mine who once told me that he believes that “when Satan fell from Heaven, he landed directly in the sound booth! And still resides there even today!” While we chuckle at this, there is likely an element of truth to it. While we are trying to accomplish the task of getting God’s message out, technology is an area, which is used by the enemy to create distractions within worship services. He doesn’t care how little the distraction is; only that it is effective enough to get minds off the message being delivered.
One of the most discouraging things that can happen to a congregation is to spend years of planning, go through a capital campaign, build a beautiful and useful worship space, only to move into it and immediately have issues with poor acoustics, audio issues, or poor sight lines and lighting. Unfortunately, by the time some of these AVLA design flaws are revealed, there is typically no budget left to address them. Even if there were a budget to fix it, the cost of the corrective measures would be multiplied from what it would have been during the original building construction. Or, perhaps the church does hire a firm to do the work, at what they believe to be the cheapest price, but later on face unplanned expensive change orders or find that the equipment used was not of good quality both end up putting a negative spin on the whole process.
So what can be done to try to overcome these negatives? There are at least four simple steps that churches, along with their building partner, can take that will assure that these issues are covered in advance.
1. Ask questions
One of the first questions that should be asked, in the early interviews with Architects and Design build firms, is how they handle acoustics and AVLA. Is it included in their scope or do they have someone that they recommend that can be a part of the building team? If they do great, if they don’t do some research and find a firm you are comfortable with. Make sure to check references and visit a completed project to check their work.
2. Hire someone to help
After you have hired the firm to design your facility, the next step should be to hire an AVLA firm to be a part of the building design team. The AVLA
Consultant from the firm will make sure that the intent of your programming is followed within the acoustical nature of the worship areas of the space. Once again make sure to check references carefully. Make sure you’re comfortable with whom you hire and that they have experience on projects like yours and have a successful track record.
3. Get documented details
Your AVLA provider will create a set of coordination drawings that will document all of the details associated with implementing the systems. These drawings need to be included in the master set and delivered to all relevant trades like the General Contractor and Electrical Contractor. The drawings will contain information pertaining to division of labor, equipment placement, conduit needs, and electrical requirements. Make sure that these specifications are included in the master set before it goes out for bid or be prepared to face costly and possibly inflated change orders later from various trades who did not include the AVLA provisions in their bids. These documents when used in a timely way can be one of the best ways to save money in the overall project.
4. Get a guaranteed price
Your consultant will also give you a detailed equipment list that should also include a guaranteed price. One advantage of selecting an AVLA Design/Build firm over Design/Bid is that they will have the ability to keep track of costs throughout the design process. Everything from equipment to labor costs, and other expenses you will be able to get an exact price of what your systems will cost. Once you have the cost it should be able to be locked in, per a contract, for 12-18 months.
Unfortunately, AVLA are critical topics often over looked in the design and planning of worship spaces within a worship facility. Often times other issues get more attention such as the aesthetics of the worship center, HVAC, carpet color, seating options, etc. Too many times there is not enough emphasis and planning put on technology. After all, hopefully in all cases, the delivery of the word is the reason the building is being built. Therefore there must be clear and detailed planning to make it successful.
AVLA goals can be accomplished in a variety of different methods depending on the programming of a church. The key is to find an AVLA firm with a consultant who has a long track record of successful designs.
Satan will still find ways to cause distractions in our worship times. But why not take steps to reduce the tools that he has to use by starting with a well planned technical design?
Project Manager, CSD
260-657-8011 Ex 225