“How Little Can We Do This For?” A Low Budget Overflow Room

Two Monday morning ago in the church staff meeting we were talking about how to fit everyone into the church this upcoming Easter. God has been moving and the church has been growing. We are getting close to max capacity on a regular Sunday. I am guessing that on Easter we can expect about 40% attendance increase if not more. We have come to the conclusion that we needed to be ready with an overflow room. As I was thinking about how to get this done I realized that we could do it almost for free with things lying around the church. So I set out to test my theory.

After some testing I realized it could work and reported my findings last week in the staff meeting. To my surprise I was informed that we needed it operational for the upcoming Sunday (which at this point is today). I knew there were major limitations with this setup but listened anyway and got right to work.

 

Note: The next few lines will bore most people but may interest any dorks like me.

I set up an old video camera (we bought 3 years go for $125) on a cheap tripod that was donated. I used the RCA output on the video camera and ran just the video (yellow) into an old VCR. I went from our soundboard into the audio (red and white) plugs on the back of the VCR. With the VCR tuned to “aux” I could use the coax (RG6/Standard cable wire) out on the VCR to send our video feed to whatever room I chose.

We chose our fellowship hall but felt that even the church’s largest TV was too small for an overflow room. After some research we purchased a Vivitek
D512-3D Digital Projector
from B&H. I have to add a side note: B&H delivered the projector for free within 26 hours of ordering it.

To connect the projector to the video feed I had to convert back to RCA or find a way to get to VGA. I decided RCA was easier and went on a hunt for anther VCR. I tuned that VRC to channel 3 and had my signal. For audio we went RCA out and into an old set of computer speakers we had lying around (also donated).

We had everything other then the projector lying around the church so our total expense was $300 (the projector was on sale).

My tech savvy friends are now freaking out about how horrible quality this is…

 

Note: I think the boring stuff is over.

We now have a large video feed and okay audio into an overflow room but there are many issues and limitations we are going to have to figure out.

  1. We have no easy way to show lyrics to worship songs
  2. Unless we zoom the video camera into the sanctuary’s projector there are no good ways to send over the videos we show during the service.
  3. We need to figure out how to make people feel welcome and wanted sticking them back into a side room.
  4. We need to get ushers in that room.

As this Sunday approached we found a way to fit everyone into the sanctuary. We had record setting attendance by the grace of God and got to celebrate the baptism of 3 different people. But I turned everything on for the overflow room. It all worked fine and a few people decided to participate in the service using this room. Our kitchen crew seemed happy to be able to look into the next room and see what they were missing.

As I set things up like this I have a struggle in my head. I believe everything we do represents God. If our church is setting up cheep equipment we could be saying “God is cheap”. On the flip side I also think we need to be good stewards. If I went with better equipment I would blow the technology budget for the year.

The question “how little can we do this for?” is one I love and I hate. I love the challenge but I hate the sacrifice of quality that it often brings.