Striking the Right Chord: Budgeting for a Modern Church Worship Audio, Video, and Lighting Installation or Remodel

Budgeting for Church Audio, Video and Lighting Upgrades
Budgeting for Church Audio, Video and Lighting Upgrades

In the world of modern worship, creating an immersive and engaging experience for congregants goes beyond powerful sermons and heartfelt prayers. The integration of cutting-edge audio, video, and lighting (AVL) technologies plays a crucial role in elevating Church worship services to new heights. However, determining the right budget for AVL systems can be challenging. In this blog post, we’ll explore key considerations and provide insights on finding the sweet spot for investing in modern worship AVL.

Understanding Your Congregation’s Needs:

Before delving into budgeting specifics, it’s essential to understand the unique needs of your congregation. Consider the size of your worship space, the demographic you’re serving, and the type of worship experience you want to create. Smaller congregations may not require elaborate AVL setups, while larger churches may benefit from more advanced systems to reach every corner of the space.

The Ugly Money

One of the most challenging parts of budgeting for your Church AVL remodel is considering what we at The Penn Group refer to as “non-visual” spending or “ugly money”. Every AVL installation will incur costs for various aspects of AVL system as a whole. Cost categories can include:

  • Power Requirements
  • Infrastructure requirements such as cabling, wall plates, automation components, and life safety
  • Training costs
  • Building / structural analysis

Before determining the budget spend for the remainder of the project, we recommend performing an in-depth cost analysis for non-visual/ugly money costs associated with achieving the style that the Church is going for. For example: if your Church is interested in an LED wall, it may be prudent to consider how much additional cost is associated with the electrical work that is needed to power the installed LED wall. You should also consider the availability of the power on site. Pulling additional services can be extremely expensive and derail your AVL remodel or installation.

The Penn Group recommends budgeting at least 10% of your overall church AVL project budget for ‘ugly money’ and upwards of 15-20% if you plan to install a large format public address system or LED wall.

The Penn Group – AVL Team

Church Audio System Budgeting:

The Church’s sound system / public address system is the foundation that must be built upon.

Audio quality is paramount in any worship setting. A crisp, clear sound enhances the worship experience, allowing the congregation to connect deeply with the music and spoken word. With significant expenses and a large purchase list for audio systems, prepare to allocate a significant portion for quality microphones, speakers, amplifiers, and mixing consoles.

At The Penn Group we strongly recommend hiring a professional in virtually all circumstances when considering a new or remodeled Audio system for your Church. Church sound systems have a number of layers of complexity including:

  • Room Design and Accoustics
  • Coverage goals
  • Worship style
  • Life safety considerations
  • SPL, frequency and phase coherence

Getting any of the aforementioned points wrong will almost certainly lead to ongoing problems that will be very challenging to fix post install. It is a common assumption to assume that hiring a professional is out of the budget, especially for smaller churches. We present a counter opinion:

If you cannot afford a professional, you cannot afford an audio upgrade.

As a general rule of thumb, for budget purposes, you can use the following table to inform your budget process. We recommend planning approximately 50-70% of your remodel budget or initial installation on Audio.

Read our blog on choosing a sound system for your church.

Seating CapacityPricing Per Seat
0-100 seats$100 / Seat
101-300 seats$125 / Seat
301-500 seats$150 / Seat
501-750 seats$200 / Seat
751-1000 seats$250 / Seat
1000+ seats$300 / Seat +
Estimates assume high quality audio system with balanced room coverage

Footnotes: Estimates include:

  • Installation design
  • Gear Selection
    • Audio Console
    • Public Address System
    • Rigging
    • Installation, Tuning, and Commissioning
  • Procurement and installation labor
  • Support for 1 year

Church Video System Budgeting:

Visualizing the Message and communicating it around the world.

In an era dominated by visual media, incorporating video elements into worship services can be powerful. From displaying song lyrics to broadcasting sermons and multimedia presentations, a well-thought-out video system enhances engagement. When budgeting for video, consider high-definition projectors or LED screens, cameras for live streaming, and video production equipment. Prioritize flexibility in your system to accommodate future upgrades or changes in technology.

Video systems range wildly in complexity, cost, and gear. The largest expense in your video setup will come down to the following decisions:

  • Live Stream or Broadcasting
  • LED Walls, Projection or TVs
  • Camera count

When estimating for video, note that a sizable LED wall can range between $30,000-$100,000+ depending on the scale, pixel pitch, and wall quality. You can read our dedicated blog on The Top 10 considerations for Installing an LED wall in your Church.

The Penn Group recommends budgeting at least 20%-30% of your overall church AVL project budget for installing a high quality video system.

The Penn Group – AVL Team
Seating CapacityPricing Per Seat
0-100 seats$50 / Seat
101-300 seats$100 / Seat
301-500 seats$125 / Seat
501-750 seats$150 / Seat
751-1000 seats$175 / Seat
1000+ seats$200 / Seat +
Estimates assume quality video setup with no LED wall.

Footnote: estimate includes

  • Installation design
  • Gear Selection
    • Video switcher
    • Video recording
    • Projectors / TVs
    • Rigging
    • Cameras and Lenses
    • Installation, Configuration, and Commissioning
  • Procurement and installation labor
  • Support for 1 year

Lighting:

Setting the Atmosphere: Communicating the emotion of your worship experience

Lighting sets the mood and atmosphere during worship, playing a significant role in creating a visually compelling experience. Budget for intelligent lighting fixtures, LED fixtures, and a lighting control system that allows for dynamic changes during different parts of the service. Collaborate with lighting designers to create a lighting scheme that complements the overall worship environment and enhances the congregation’s connection to the spiritual experience.

Seating CapacityPricing Per Seat
0-100 seats$100 / Seat
101-300 seats$125 / Seat
301-500 seats$150 / Seat
501-750 seats$250 / Seat
751-1000 seats$275 / Seat
1000+ seats$300 / Seat +
Estimates assume high quality lighting system with a strong balance of stage lighting, effect lighting, and moving lighting

Footnote: Estimate includes the following

  • Installation design
  • Gear Selection
    • Front Stage Wash
    • Stage effect lighting
    • Stage moving lighting
    • Hazer
    • Lighting Control
    • House Lights
    • Installation, Configuration, and Commissioning
  • Procurement and installation labor
  • Support for 1 year

Finding the Balance:

While it’s crucial to invest in high-quality AVL systems, finding the right balance is key. Avoid overspending on unnecessary features and technology that may not align with your congregation’s needs. Seek input from your technical team, worship leaders, and congregation members to ensure that your AVL budget aligns with the goals and vision of your church. We’ve prepared a summary to give you a baseline for overall project costs. For the largest rooms, install costs can ballon well beyond the estimates provided here. Our best recommendation is to hire a high quality, trusted integrator.

Seating CapacityPricing Per Seat
0-100 seats$200 / Seat
101-300 seats$350 / Seat
301-500 seats$425 / Seat
501-750 seats$600 / Seat
751-1000 seats$700 / Seat
1000+ seats$800 / Seat +
Estimates assume high quality equipment with balanced room coverage, and professional installation

Conclusion:

Balancing the budget for modern worship AVL involves understanding the unique needs of your congregation and prioritizing key elements such as audio, video, and lighting. By investing wisely in quality equipment and seeking input from your community, you can create a worship environment that resonates with congregants and enhances their spiritual journey. Remember, it’s not just about the technology – it’s about creating a meaningful and immersive worship experience for all.

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