Choosing a church planting projector may not be an item at the top of your list when you consider every other aspect of church planting, but there are a few good reasons as to why you should give it serious thought.
The initial problem you will face with a church plant is getting people through the door. The second problem you’ll face is keeping them there! Many locations are crying out for a new kingdom expression to be placed in their midst, but the overall “church experience” is essential.
You may recall the good old days of the overhead projector with the acetate sheets, often handwritten. In more recent times, churches have moved to projectors linked to computers, showing images as if they were on a large computer screen rather than the hard-to-read acetates.
The projector becomes an important factor when you want people to read what’s on-screen easily. The congregation can miss announcements, and blurry text can ruin worship time – so how do you choose a good church planting projector?
Firstly, you’re going to need to find something on which you can project. This could be a wall, but a screen will be better. Once you’ve found the spot, you need to figure out exactly where you can put a projector in relation to it.
Standard projectors are placed a few metres away and often hang from the ceiling, which keeps them out of the way so they can’t easily be tampered with or tripped over. You may find that your ceiling is much too high to attach a projector, which leaves two other options – long-throw and short-throw projectors.
As their name suggests, long-throw projectors project an image from a distance, potentially the back of a room. Many of these projectors create huge images due to the distance the light travels, so you may need to dedicate a whole wall to the resulting image. It is not an ideal solution!
A better solution is a short-throw projector. Using a highly distorted lens shape, the image can be projected from only a metre away. Ultra-short-throw projectors can be even closer to the screen. Mounting such a projector on an arm protruding from the wall is possible, and you don’t need to get to the ceiling.
Even though the lens is an unusual shape, the resulting image is usually excellent – the distortion allows the beams of light to radiate widely from the lens, ideal for covering a projection area directly in front of the projector.
In lower quality/low price projectors, this can result in distortion to the image around the edges. The higher quality the projector, the better the resulting images.
In 99% of cases, this is true for any projector – the more you pay, the better the image. Keeping people engaged with what’s on-screen is vital for providing a good church experience, so it pays to invest in a good projector.
However, many church plants are running on a shoestring budget. There are options available for under £100, and if you purchase from a reputable dealer (including places like Amazon), you’ll often find there is a short trial period where you can return the product for a refund if it doesn’t meet your needs.
This allows you to see how your new church planting projector works in the real world, not just through the tech specs!
For an indication of prices, at the time of writing, an LG Cinebeam short-throw projector could be found on Amazon for around £1030.
A cheap and cheerful standard projector such as the Elephas model is just £90 and features WiFi connectivity, allowing you to project directly from a mobile device.
A wide range of projectors sit between these two extremes, but whatever you choose, always consider how bright your room will be. The brightness of the projected image is measured in lumens, and the higher the lumen rating, the easier it will be to see the final image in brighter settings.
It’s often a good idea for small church plants to choose one of the lower-cost projectors and upgrade as your congregation increases. As long as the final image projects clearly and the congregation can read the words easily, you’re on the right track.