Spiritual Economies of Evangelical Worship: Technology, Stewardship and Experience
Baker, Laurie Mae
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The present work explores how American evangelicals have learned to use and think about performance technology, such as professional audio, video and lighting technologies as they endeavour to craft worship environments. I track the discourses from trade publications, like Technologies for Worship Magazine (TFWM) and Worship Facilities Magazine and Church Production, in their devotion to bridge the divide between religion and technology to create a house of worship market. Both TFWM and Church Production participate in conferences where they offer education on technology use. Technologies for Worship Magazine is the educational basis for the TFW Pavilion and Worship Facilities and Church Production for an event called Worship Facilities Expo (WFX). Ethnographic research at these events reveals that evangelical worship technicians learn to cultivate dispositions towards stewardship and technical mastery through attending these technology exhibitions and conferences, by taking offered educational seminars. Training at the TFW Pavilion and WFX focussed on two main areas: first, how to use professional performance technologies, like audio amplification and control devices, lighting configurations, and video capture, production and broadcast systems. Second, training addressed the importance for church technicians to use technologies to create excellent and relevant worship experiences. By excellent, trainers meant worship practice that uses performance technologies seamlessly to create immersive experiences. Churches who strive for technological excellence embody the belief that the relevance of the church and its message among believers and non-believers is coupled with the use of technology to enhance the affective potential of the message delivered by the pastor. Yet, as church technicianslike audio or lighting engineersreflect on technology use, they reveal the ways that technology troubles contemporary worship practice as much as it augments the creation of poignant, immersive experiences.