Be Mindful of These 6 Church Integration Trends

Fewer people are religious and fewer churches are being built. So why is the house of worship market looking up?

It’s a good news/bad news scenario for the house of worship (HOW) integration market as 2015 draws toward an end. There are signs of growth, but the momentum pales in comparison to the market’s early 2000s heyday.

AV systems are often added during the new-construction phase and there aren’t a lot of new churches being built in North America currently, according to 2015 NSCA Electronic Systems Outlook – Summer Edition. “What growth there is will likely be renovation, as newly formed congregations move into vacated retail space or reoccupy church buildings abandoned by other faiths,” it notes.

There is good news on the horizon, however. “As the housing market continues its growth trend and wages improve, we expect growth to improve somewhat through 2019,” the NSCA report continues.

For the glass-half-full crowd, there are other reasons to be optimistic about HOW integration. Many of those smaller, converted worship spaces are affiliated with larger churches. As such, there’s significant demand for streaming video of church services, also known as multi-site churches.

Let’s take a look at some trends affecting the HOW integration market.

1. Mega-churches are not a stronghold of growth like they used to be. This is the glass-half-empty take on demand for multi-site churches. On average, church project seating capacities once reached up to 3,000. However, with the growth of AV technology in the HOW market many projects include fewer than 1,000 seats, allowing them to focus on their technology upgrades that will enable them to better-reach a large audience.

2. The market construction is set to increase over the next few years. “Better times lie ahead,” said NSCA executive director Chuck Wilson during a recent CI webcast, in regards to the rising HOW market. NSCA tracks construction trends in several commercial markets, including worship (see graph). In 2008, the market was down 4.2 percent, 14 percent in 2009 and 2010, 20 percent in 2011, 11 percent in 2012, 8 percent in 2013 and 2 percent in 2013. The good news is that the numbers are projected to keep increasing through [2019].”

3. Churches can build small and broadcast to multiple satellite campuses. The HOW market has almost completely shifted their projects to upgrading their technology. Instead of focusing on building mega churches, the market can shift its focus to engaging its audience via satellite. Being able to reach multiple campuses makes it easier for people who are unable to physically be at church every Sunday.

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4. HOW is low on security and data requirements, but heavy on the theatrical presentation. With new technology upgrades, churches are able to focus on their presentation to its audience and make an impact with audio, video and lighting.

5. After several years of donations being down, HOW customers have started spending again. Now that the market is rising, many customers are beginning to spend money on these AV technologies to enhance the churchgoer’s experience, as well as reach an audience who are not physically in attendance.

6. HOW end users are dwindling. One reason there are fewer churches being built is that there are fewer people in North America that want to go to church. In its 2015 NSCA Electronic Systems Outlook, NSCA cites a Pew Research Center report indicating that the church-going public is declining.

“The percentage of adults (ages 18 and older) who describe themselves as Christians has dropped by nearly eight percentage points in just seven years, from 78.4 percent in an equally massive PEW Research survey in 2007 to 70.6 percent in 2014. Over the same period, the percentage of Americans who are religiously unaffiliated — describing themselves as atheist, agnostic, or ‘nothing in particular’ — has jumped more than six points, from 16.1 percent to 22.8 percent.”

Market Chatter

We asked 2015 CI Industry Leaders Top 5 Worship Integrators what it takes to suc-ceed in the house of worship (HOW) market.

Mike Landrum, CEO, Technical Innovation, Atlanta: “Our processes are well documented and followed to increase the likelihood of success.”

Jim Ford, president, Ford Audio-Video, Oklahoma City: “We have focused on being able to exe-cute after the sale and keep our promises for quality, timeliness and cost.”

Ben Mankin, president, Mankin Media, Franklin, Tenn.: “We work the HOW market hard, speak their language, ask what they need and want, have dedicated sales guys for that market and start upstream with the architect and urban planners designing their new space.”

Timothy Czyzak, president, iVideo Technologies, Cleveland: “Estimating labor, job costing, pipe-line activities, expense management, etc., are all thoroughly analyzed and allow our company to steadily manage.”

Matt Scott, president, OMEGA Audio Video, London, Ontario: “We’ve been able to bridge the gap between what’s normally found in many public and corporate places and provide them to the HOW market where they aren’t always thought of.”