I literally grew up in the Church. Specifically, a church in north Texas where I started doing tech when I was in middle school. One day, the tech director called and asked if I wanted to be an audio intern in the tech department. I was 15 years old and couldn’t even drive myself to my first Sunday morning service.
Fast forward a few years and the church was in process of building a new 2,500 seat sanctuary. I was asked if I wanted to come on staff as the ‘lighting guy’, and with no knowledge about what I was getting into, I enthusiastically said ‘yes!’ We had no budget, no moving lights, and a only little bit of colored lighting. Each Sunday morning, the worship pastor would tell me what he wanted with lighting and I would simply push the buttons to make it work and run the lighting for the service. One Sunday the volunteer operating the slides (PowerPoint) didn’t show up, and so I was asked if I could run that as well. Soon the worship pastor handed over the reigns of lighting and worship slides, and I was off…
It was refreshing to break out of the mold of white, static lighting, and bold, Arial 20-point font, center justified for every song. I experimented with changing backgrounds and colors during appropriate times during a song, instead of just leaving it static. Lighting colors and mood followed the song and worship background like a melody flowing out of the music. This opened something in me that I hadn’t really thought of before – visual worship.
Diving in to the concept of visual worship led me to be fascinated by old church buildings and cathedrals where I saw something interesting. The Church used to be REALLY good at using visuals in worship spaces! Stained glass, mosaic, tapestries, paint – they ALL told stories of God and helped the Church worship…visually. However, every time I would look out at our sanctuary walls; they were bland. White. Void. You might be able to relate.
As I dove deeper into learning about worship spaces and the Church; it was just fascinating to realize that so many Protestant churches built in the last couple of centuries in the United States ARE these blank, white canvases. To avoid the appearance of Roman Catholicism and the danger of actually worshiping the images instead of God, the Protestant church stripped all the imagery out of the worship spaces and…well here we are! Given the shift back to visuals being in the Church, I wondered if there was a way to do this dynamically, and in a fresh way.
We had some projectors left over after a children’s event; and I was curious. What would happen if we simply projected images onto our white walls? After making the projection ‘fit’ onto our walls, I called the leadership into the sanctuary, played a song over the PA, and projected visuals all across our sanctuary that went with the song. Afterward the executive pastor asked how soon we could install this permanently.
That was in 2006 and for almost 5 years after that I designed and operated the main screen lyrics and backgrounds, lighting, and what we now call Environmental Projection every week the Sunday service. It brought so much joy to me to be able to match all those elements every service, making them match the songs and message. Over those 5 years, we hosted many conferences and worship nights where I would have countless leaders from other churches come to me and ask “What is this projection on the walls and how can we do this in our sanctuary?”
In 2007 (while still on staff) I started Visual Worshiper as a way to help churches do visual worship…better.I left the staff job in 2009 and have been serving churches around the country and world in teaching on visual worship, and installing and training on worship lighting and Environmental Projection.
We use lighting and Environmental Projection as our main tools, but most importantly we help train people in WHY to use these tools in their church community. We are visual creatures, and God made us that way! I believe that we have a responsibility to use visual in a God-honoring way and to help people use their gifts to glorify God.
It’s my heart to share ideas with churches to build relationships with people with similar passions. We’re here to help you integrate the powerful and cost effective method of Environmental Projection that transforms your worship space into something other than four walls of building. When imagery, motion, colors, stylized fonts, texture, and light are used together in a creative and relevant way, they create a focused and unique atmosphere for your corporate worship. I would love to talk with you personally about how we can help you on this visual worship journey.
Camron Ware – Founder of Visual Worshiper