At the start of another year I’m reflecting on the ever-emerging trends in vital equipment for the modern church. As I travel extensively around the country and world, I’ve noticed a number of popular items that were not commonplace in churches a decade ago.
So, maybe it’s time to come out with a new catalog of modern church equipment essentials. Let me know if the following contemporary items look tempting.
PARKING ATTENDANT VESTS. It seems more and more churches are activating parking lot attendants for Sunday mornings. And it’s not just the big churches. I’ve seen brightly-clad traffic directors at churches with just 30 or 40 attendees. Visiting children have been heard to exclaim, “This is just like Disneyland’s parking lot!” And mom and dad no longer need to pray to God for an open parking spot. Vests are available in several stylish fluorescent colors. Embroidered church logos are extra. But denominational logos have been discontinued.
DONATION KIOSKS. Modern technology is replacing the intrusive usher shoving an offering plate in your face. Since nobody carries cash or checks anymore, a swipe of the credit card makes the tithe fast, easy and relatively painless. These units seem to be especially preferred by the growing number of people who tend to choose the self-checkout lanes at the supermarket. Upcoming kiosk models may offer the option of a live HD video feed from the church treasurer thanking you for your transaction.
EAR PLUG DISPENSERS. These are becoming standard equipment for churches with big sound systems. Complimentary disposable ear plugs are the perfect solution for all those fuddy-duddies who complain that the 110-decibel music hurts their ears. Worshippers have also found these brightly colored ear plugs to provide an unexpected witnessing opportunity. After church, when they sit down at Denny’s, servers often ask, “What are those yellow things sticking out of your ears?” This conversation-starter offers the perfect opportunity to say, “We just came from Relevant Church, where they encourage us to block the sound.” Note: the old assistive hearing earpieces once used in churches are no longer available.
THEATER SEATING. Any self-respecting modern church today installs cushy theater-style seating. It’s become a demand of spectator audiences who wish to settle in for an hour of pleasant presentation from the stage or screen. Seating options include beverage holders, suitable for accommodating cups on communion Sundays. This style of seating must be permanently fixed to the floor, which always ensures unobstructed views of the backs of the heads in the next row, and discourages congregational interaction.
FOG MACHINES. Modern musical presentations from the stage seem more professional and awe-inspiring when enveloped in artificial fog. Theatrical lighting (available separately) illuminates the oozing fog and provides an ethereal setting for the modern church praise band. When not in use on Sunday morning, youth groups often use worship fog machines for special seasonal events such as Halloween haunted houses.
Having a little fun here with some colorful examples of actual church spending. I’ll conclude with something though that’s no joke.
JESUS-CENTERED. This last one we’ve actually already added to the catalog. It’s called the Jesus-Centered Bible, which encourages users to orbit their lives around a true relationship with Jesus. Red letters in the New Testament and blue letters in the Old Testament point to Jesus at every turn. Though some may think Jesus is a bit old fashioned, he’s proving to be the most potent resource that some churches are utilizing. In fact, some churches are revolving their entire ministries around this Jesus. Other churches in their communities may be known for other trendy things. But these churches have developed an infectous reputation for being distinctively “Jesus-centered.”