Why My Church Waited 10 Years to Go HD

Before Going HD, Our Church's Screens Didn't Quite Fill the Box (notice the black bars)

A few Sundays ago, I looked up at the screens in our church auditorium and immediately bumped my wife and said, “Look!”

Her response was, “What? What am I looking at?”

I couldn’t believe it. For 10 years our church has had 4:3 screens sitting inside  widescreen frames, and that day they had finally upgraded to 16:9 widescreen HD. And she couldn’t even tell.

The Value of Planning Ahead

Just as I moved to Dallas about 10 years ago, the church family my wife and kids are now apart of was putting the finishing touches on a new worship center (the one you see pictured above).

At the time, “going HD” was all the rage, but the cameras and projectors were very expensive. Since the church already had a working SD setup from the older part of the church, they decided it wouldn’t be a wise use of resources to upgrade the system for the new building.

But even though they decided against the upgrade, they still planned ahead. The white frames in the picture above were designed to accomodate wide screens. One day, upgrading would be affordable, and someone had the foresight to plan ahead.

Surely, within a few years, it would be affordable and perhaps necessary to upgrade.

The Value of Waiting

But it wasn’t a few years. The existing setup kept going for another 10 years outlasting two recessions and our pastor’s bout with cancer.

A few weeks ago, however, it finally died with no hope of resurrection, so the church media team began working frantically on an mid-week transformation.

Mark Matlock was preaching the next Sunday and before he started his message he mentioned three important things. First, in light of a tough economy and a community that values not spending money on frivolous things, it was important to say that the new system was patched together with mostly used parts so it was much less expensive than a straight upgrade (awesome right?). Second, since it was less of a planned upgrade and more of a last minute necessity, there might be some glitches (actually, there weren’t any!). And third, all the pastors were getting facials since they were worried about the new screens showing their pimples (classic Matlock humor).

New Widescreens Displaying the Nicene Creed

Personally, I’m proud to be a part of a community of believers who value preaching God’s word (we’re going through Mark this year), reaching out to the local community (the church has several ground-breaking partnerships with the city of Irving), and the wise stewardship of God’s resources (no frivolous upgrades even if they would be cool).


In recent years, our church has also begun celebrating the ancient holidays on the church calendar that demarcate the life and ministry of Jesus. A few days ago was Pentecost Sunday, and I took the short video of the music team’s great arrangement of “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing.”

The video does show the new HD setup, but I think it’s real value is as a beautiful portrait of old and new, faithfulness and creativity, frugality and extravagance all mixed together:

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John Dyer

In my day job, I work at Dallas Theological Seminary, and at night I write Bible software for countries whose leaders could be called "overlords." This one time, I wrote a book about technology and Christian faith. You can find out more about what I'm up to at http://j.hn/.

8 thoughts on “Why My Church Waited 10 Years to Go HD”

  1. Sometimes the “want to” out weighs the “need to” and get in the way of the “have to.” So much gets in the way of us actually doing ministry sometimes. Thanks for the post. I needed to be reminded that a lot of things can wait.

  2. The church I attend recently installed two new 4×3 screens and bought 2 new 4×3 projectors. Still worshipping in SD in a HD world.

  3. I’ve come to figure out a church’s budget often relects the true heart of that church. I GREATLY appreciate churches who pray for guidance to use their resources in a balanced way so as to do the most for the Kindgdom instead of having the coolest gadgets.

    Off the subject of your blog topic… but I loved the video of the hymn!

  4. My church does not have SD or HD screens. But that has to do without our media ecology and ecclesiology. Because “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ” we believe central divinely ordained means of God communicating his grace is the preaching, reading and hearing of His Word. I would argue that God has made the ear dominant in receiving his message, not the eye. Eugene Peterson has a great chapter on that in Working the Angles called “Turning Eyes into Ears.”

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