Lead by Geoff & Lee Blight, Life Church in Brisbane is a great example of what it means to have an impactful & successful medium sized church in Australia.
In fact, despite the isolated cases of Australia’s own mega churches, the reality is that even the bigger churches in Australia are nowadays comprised of multiple campuses very similar to the size and type as Life Church.
Whilst some enjoy the opportunity of purpose built church auditoriums and facilities, it’s pretty typical to see churches converting warehouses, school halls and almost any available suitable space into an auditorium and multipurpose facility.
Life Church is an example of just that, having converted an old high school hall into a main auditorium space.
Like most churches, Life Church had a finite budget and a lot to achieve. Some usual questions were asked – “we know Forefront do a lot of big projects, but we’re not XYZ Church, we have our own style & culture”…..”we need training and support, but you guys are located interstate”.
After sharing advice on how we deliver top notch service at distance every day for churches across the country and around the globe, how we have completed countless projects and have the know how to navigate all the challenges, and deliver all the needs of the various departments and stakeholders, Life Church set off on the journey with us here at Forefront.
Our process starts with a lot of listening and observation. We visited a church service and observed all aspects of the service including the presentation style, worship team & technical team. We got a good gauge of the abilities of the staff and volunteers. We met with the Pastors and staff, and got a strong sense of their vision for the future, their challenges and the overall style and direction of the church.
Every church has its own unique worship style, no matter the size or denomination. It’s key to our mission to figure that out and design systems and solutions that help attain the church’s vision whilst maximising the potential and skill level of the staff and volunteers who will be using the equipment and systems.
Next its to the drawing board. We create 3D software models of the auditorium space, and test different speaker systems, lighting layouts and video systems – this sometimes results in multiple options, and sometimes in more difficult conversion spaces, like a warehouse with a low roof, it can be a battle to just get all the elements to play nicely together - such as uninhibited sight lines to video screens, whilst navigating around the planned building services such as air conditioning ducting, as an example.
You see, we think about, and plan around all the aspects that years of experience have taught us. All the elements that we know can impact your outcome, regardless of whether it’s our direct responsibility or not.
All the types of things that anyone else might just keep quiet about to gain your business, but point to another trade or supplier when the result isn’t what it should be.
You don’t want to be in that position, when the air conditioning makes your video screens waiver in the breeze, or the carpet gets laid before anyone thinks of putting an assisted listening system underneath.
That’s just a couple of the external influences that could impact your audio, lighting and video systems - let alone intricacies involved in planning and designing the actual systems themselves.
And you shouldn’t be expected to know all this. It’s not like you do a church upgrade or building project every day! AT FOREFRONT ITS WHAT WE DO EVERYDAY.
After the designing and planning phase we come to the masterplan, which gives you a systems and equipment road map for say the next 5 years. But most often, it’s about squeezing the most equipment and solutions into the immediately available budget, knowing that whatever goes in now is really likely to be the majority of what’s purchased for the foreseeable future.
After some adjusting and prioritisation the transformation begins. Our team arrives on the ground for the installation phase. The current space is transformed. We carry out testing, optimisation, tuning and focusing – ensuring the best results.
But it doesn’t stop there. The real key to getting the most value out of the whole process and being good stewards of the investment is delivering the right training and support to your staff and volunteers.
Around 90% of all church musicians, singers and technical teams are volunteers who are not professional – yet our modern church usually requires a very high level of presentation quality.
So by selecting and designing the right systems for your particular needs, we then deliver training to your staff and volunteers that makes sense, and equips them with the knowledge and skill they need to exploit the systems and equipment for their designed purpose.
We’re also then on call for support when needed most – like at 7.00am on a Sunday morning.
Q&A With Pastor Lee Blight:
1. What's the value of having FOREFRONT across all aspects of your project - audio, lighting, video, staging etc?
We would not do this any other way, having Forefront oversee all aspects of our AV project meant that we caught many of the potential integrations issues early.
When there were issues (there will always be some on a big production installation), we only had one company to call and they were great in working through things with us.
2. What are some of the potential pitfalls that the relationship with Forefront may have saved Life Church from?
Forefront worked really well with us regarding utilising existing gear, this helped us work towards our budget and while it added complexity to the project, they were happy to advise and work with that restriction.
Forefront did not do it reluctantly but were more than happy to include the older gear in all their designs and planning and even suggested some ways to better use the older gear than we had anticipated.
In line with our budget we also relied on volunteers for about 90% of the data, audio and video cable runs. Forefront were happy to work with this also, giving us cable guidance, basic cable designs and specifications for what we needed.
3. Has Forefront been valuable for the upskilling of your staff/volunteers?
Forefront not only helped us with the technical skills but also the culture and heart behind church production.
They understood our unique and potentially pedantic requirements and worked within those, while going above and beyond in the aspect of creativity in our lighting and stage set up.
4. What would you say to other Pastors, Worship team leaders or Tech leaders about why they should work with Forefront?
Take the time to meet with Nick and the team, work through a full proposal process with them, it is well worth your time.
5. What's the value of having Forefront when it comes time to hire of some additional gear or expertise for special events?
This has come in handy for a few of our bigger events, it was easy to work with Forefront even though they are not in our city regarding hire equipment. Previously we had not liked the idea of relying on delivery for hired gear but it has worked well.
Digico SD9 Console
Nexo GeoS12 Line Array System
Nexo LS18 Sub Bass Elements
Nexo ID24 Front Fill Elements
Nexo DTD-I Speaker Controller
Camco DPower4 Power Amplifiers
Xilica Neutrino Speaker Processor
RCF ART312A Spealer Elements
Sennheiser 500 Series Wireless Microphones
Sennheiser EW300 Series Wireless In-Ear Monitors
FFP Custom Stage Patch System
Chauvet F-165WW LED Fresnel
Chauvet F-95WW LED Fresnel
Chauvet Rogue RH1 Moving Head Hybrid Profile/Wash/Beam
Pixapanel 111 Wash Moving Head
Pixapanel LED Par Quad18
Pixapanel Pixastrip LED Strips
Pixapanel Intelli6 LED Video Panels
LSC Clarity VX20
LSC Redback Patch, Dimming & Distro
Look Unique Hazer2
Blackmagic ATEM 1M/E Production Studio 4K
Panasonic PT-DW750WA Video Projectors