New York (June 24, 2010)–Mission Community Church in Gilbert, AZ, just outside Phoenix, has been growing. Less than two months after opening its new campus, the church’s 1,500-seat sanctuary packs multiple services weekly, drawn by Mission Community’s modern worship experience.
As Mike Work, the church’s executive pastor of operations explains, Mission Community’s approach is anything but traditional. “Words like ‘choir’ and ‘pulpit’ aren’t even in our vocabulary,” he says. “We think [of our services as] more like a rock show. Technology’s such a big part of people’s lives today, and we try to use technology to create an immersive and intimate worship experience. We’re not here to entertain them, but what we do had better engage them.”
That technology includes video, lighting, and sound systems, with video screens, a JBL sound system, and dual Avid Venue systems—a Venue Mix Rack System, featuring the Profile console, at front of house, and a Venue SC48 console on monitors.
“One of the church’s goals was to create a system that could deliver professional, concert-level sound and mix capabilities,” says Shannon Ericsson, founder and president of Olympia, WA-based Omega Consultants, the company behind the church’s acoustical and audio system design.
Ericsson says it was Work, a veteran Christian producer and events promoter, who suggested Venue. “Mike’s input was really invaluable to the project,” he says. “He was able to bring a lot of substance to the church’s vision, and he was influential in the decision to go with the system. I was already aware of how much we could do with just the standard plug-ins that came with the system, as well as the benefits of Pro Tools integration, and when Avid came out with the SC48, that pretty much sealed the deal. There was no other system that could provide the functionality and sonic quality that these two consoles brought to the table.”
“I had never previously used the system myself,” admits Work, “but when you hear good stuff about it from a succession of people you trust—all of whom make their living in audio and aren’t selling anything—you pay attention. And the more we looked into it, the more reasons we found to go with Venue.”
One of the major factors in their decision was the potential for running the service’s entire mix using only the built-in plug-ins in the Venue systems, without the need for racks of outboard gear. “We’ve only been using the consoles for a couple of months, and we’ve barely scratched the surface of what we can accomplish,” says Worship Arts pastor C.J. Bergmen.
Bergmen, who typically mixes monitors onstage, cited the user interface as an important asset. “I had never even used a digital console before we got the SC48,” he says, “but it’s really so much like an analog console, I was up and running right away.”
Pro Tools integration was another feature that fit with the church’s long-term vision. “We’re not just creating a worship service, we’re also creating new music,” says Work. “We’re building a Pro Tools room behind the stage, and, ultimately, we’re planning on recording and releasing entire musical performances. Venue really fits with the vision we have for the church and for getting our music out there.”
However, it’s still early days for the crew at Mission Community. “We’ve only been in this building for two months, and we’re still putting a lot of the pieces in place,” Bergmen says. “But even at this stage, we can see that we’re barely scratching the surface. The more I learn about the Venue systems, the more blown away I am by what we can do.”