How To Design a Simple Church Video Projection System

  It is with some trepidation that I post this page. Undoubtedly someone will use this page as a guide to put in a projector system for their church and end up with a total design disaster and waste a lot of money. On the other hand, if your needs are simple, you might be able to save a lot of money by doing it yourself.

The first rule is to START SIMPLE. Don't try to put in a dual projector system, dual inputs, video splitters or amplifiers or anything else that might complicate your system. Start out with the most basic design of a single projector and a single computer and go with it until it works well.

The second rule is to know when to quit. If you don't feel confident about what you are doing then go out and get some help from a professional.

The most important thing to do is simply to borrow or rent a projector and try it out in the place you plan to use it. THERE IS NO SUBSTITUTE FOR THIS for the inexperienced designer. You may be very surprised about what you learn by just trying a projector. Unless you hire a professional designer or get an experienced church video equipment company to design your system you will likely not know how to calculate screen size, projector distance, lumen requirements etc. Sometimes you can borrow video projectors from businessmen, other churches, schools or others to try out in your church. Trying out a projector in your church can go a LONG way in helping you design a system and avoid a lot of problems. A sales company may also be very helpful in supporting your design plans. Companies that have sold systems to other churches may have packages that or plans that have worked well at similar churches.

Are you the kind of person that LIKES to do the calculations? Click here to see simple math for projector calculations.

Set the borrowed projector up on a stand at the front of the auditorium and do the following:

  1. SAMPLE SHOW: Prepare a sample PowerPoint presentation and sample song display and project it on your screen.
  2. LEGIBILITY: Go to the farthest viewing spot in your auditorium and make sure that you can easily read the text. Don't forget that everyone doesn't perfect vision. If you can't read at least 28 point font from the worst seat then your screen isn't big enough.
  3. SCREEN VIEW: Go around the auditorum and make sure that there are no seats that are blocked from viewing the screen. Posts, overhangs, decorations, etc. can keep people from viewing the image.
  4. AMBIENT LIGHT/WINDOWS: Dealing with Ambient light can be the biggest problem in a church. If you church has windows then make sure that you test the system with the sun shining at the worst time of the day in the worst season of the year. Ambient light problems can rank among some of the hardest problems to solve. If you can't solve your problems in your test set up with your loaned projector then get some help from a professional designer.   Some possible ambient light solutions include relocating your screen, going to a higher lumen output projector, putting shades or tinting on windows or changing your electrical lighting. Sometimes it is cheaper to change your church lighting or hire a carpenter to change your auditorium than it is to buy a higher lumen projector.
  5. LUMEN OUTPUT: Borrowing or renting a projector is probably the best way for an untrained designer to determine what lumen rating projector you need. The lumen rating of a projector is a rough idea of the relative brightness of the projector. I say relative because it seems that not all manufacturers are consistent in their ratings. You can get 20% variation easily from manufacturer's listed ratings and what the projectors actually put out. I recommend that you get a projector that is brighter than what you think you need. Be aware that projector brightness can drop as much as 50% over the life of the bulb! After a few years your projector may be half as bright as when you bought it. As the projector lamp gets older it gets dimmer. Lamp output reduction over time is normal for most bulbs. It is best to test the projector that you want to buy and use a projector that already has a hundred or more hours on it to get a better idea what you would really get in the long run. There are so many brands and models of projectors that this can be hard to do. Just make sure that you don't get an underpowered projector.



  1. There are a variety of real dangers in installing video systems. Electrical work should be done by qualified electricians following applicable codes. Incorrect installations cannot only damage your equipment but can result in electrical shock and even fire. Don't take any chances.
  2. Mounting a projector on church ceilings can be hazardous! Inexperienced workers working at height is dangerous. Don't try to save money by skimping on safety. Your installation may require the rental of lifts, erect scaffolding, etc. Don't try to do work off of an old rickety ladder.
  3. Mount your system securely! Even a lightweight projector can seriously injure or even kill someone when dropped from a height. Don't take any chances on this.
  4. Don't try to save a few hundred or a few thousand dollars and end up with someone hurt or an unsafe installation. It isn't worth it. Be safe. Know when to call in the professionals.


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