First Evangelical Free Church

"We're a video generation. We're a video society. Just about anything we do anymore involves video in some aspect."

–Gil Fruchey (Pastor of Worship and Music)

Maplewood, MN—There are many reasons churches explore upgrading their audio/visual capabilities. For the First Evangelical Free Church (First Free) of Maplewood, MN, the motivating factor was "the 80 percent rule." Gil Fruchey, Pastor of Worship and Music at First Free, said the rule of thumb for churches is that if you're at 80 percent of your church's capacity it inhibits growth.

First Free logo"If you go up higher, people feel crowded and people start to leak away," Fruchey said. "Once you hit 80 percent and are hitting 80 percent consistently you need to either open up more worship venues, add another service, or build a larger building in order to accommodate the people and grow."

Two Places at Once

First Free's solution was to add another service. Last fall the church decided they wanted to add a contemporary service in a separate worship area in the church that would be held simultaneously to their traditional service. However, while their services were different, they wanted both venues to receive the same sermon. Since their senior pastor Todd Olson, who delivers the sermons, can't be in two places at once, they looked for an audio/visual solution to allow him to have a digital presence. The solution was the LABvault-SD™ from LEIGHTRONIX.

"We wanted all of our services to have the same message through the whole morning," Fruchey said. "So even though they are doing different music and other elements in the two different services, the one thing that unifies us is that we hear the same message every week."

The LABvault-SD allows the church to begin recording the sermon in one venue as the pastor gives it, and when the second venue has reached the point of the sermon in their service, the LABvault-SD allows them to view the sermon without interrupting the recording process.

Joyce Hennessee

"The LABvault-SD met all the needs we had. It performs consistently and does exactly what we want it to do." –Gil Fruchey

"Streaming Won't Work"

First Free had considered live streaming the service, but determined that wouldn't work for what they needed. When they were introduced to the LABvault-SD they knew it was the perfect product for their situation.

"Streaming it wouldn't work," Fruchey said. "There's just too many things that can change throughout the service; things can run long or things can run short, so timing two services to reach the sermon at the same exact time is nearly impossible."

With the LABvault-SD, the church simply schedules one service to have the sermon later, giving them a buffer. Then when they are ready for the sermon, they simply hit play and are able to view the sermon in the second venue while it's still recording in the first.

"The LABvault-SD met all the needs we had," Fruchey said. "It performs consistently and does exactly what we want it to do. The interface is simple and easy to use."

A/V Expansion

In addition to the LABvault-SD, First Free purchased numerous other audio/visual products for their service productions, including mixers, switchers, and cameras. Fruchey admitted it was expensive, but when compared to the alternatives it was relatively cheap and enabled the church to continue growing.

"As churches grow it's becoming more cost prohibitive to acquire land and build buildings. If we were to build a new facility it could cost us anywhere from $12 million to $15 million and we're years away from raising that kind of money and putting up that kind of building, but the people are coming now so we had to do something. A new video system is expensive but it's a lot less than $15 million for a new building."

While the LABvault-SD provided financial benefits, Fruchey said it has also improved the church experience and that the incorporation of audio/visual elements is starting to become an expectation of church goers.

"We're a video generation. We're a video society. Just about anything we do anymore involves video in some aspect," Fruchey said. "You look at the explosion of video sharing; we're a society that has grown up with a ubiquitous use of television and other visual media. Churches are adopting video too in order to enhance the message and enhance the experience of church so we're following along with the times."

The Problem

First free wanted to hold two services simultaneously that both receive the same sermon despite being in seperate venues.

The Solution

How It Works

The LABvault-SD allows the church to begin recording the sermon in one venue as the pastor gives it, and when the second venue has reached the point of the sermon in their service, the
LABvault-SD allows them to view the sermon without interrupting the recording process.

In Their Words

"We're a video generation. We're a video society. Just about anything we do anymore involves video in some aspect."

–Gil Fruchey
Pastor of Worship and Music

End Result

"Even though they are doing different music and other elements in the two different services, the one thing that unifies us is that we hear the same message every week."

–Gil Fruchey
Pastor of Worship and Music

At a Glance

  • Name: First Evangelical Free Church
  • Location: Maplewood, MN
  • Denomination: the Evangelical Free Church is a Christian denomination formed in 1950 in Minneapolis, MN.
  • Merge: formed from a merger between Swedish Evangelical Free Church and Norwegian-Danish Evangelical Free Church Association
  • Headquarters: national headquarters located in Bloomington, MN
  • Size: 1,511 congregations with a national weekly attendance of 358,416

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