Discovering Excellence in Colorado Springs

By Jim Kumorek

October 12, 2014 11:23 am EST

Church planting is the process of creating a new church, frequently with a core group of people from an existing church, which then thrives and grows. At least, that’s the usual plan. It doesn’t always work out that way, though.

“Discovery Church Colorado was planted about ten years ago,” says Kyle Bush, technical director at Discovery Church located in Colorado Springs. “However, it had some trouble early on, and was in decline. Then about six years ago, our current pastor, Greg Lindsey, came on board. After about two years, we began growing again.”

Part of the reason for Discovery Church’s turn-around may be found in the philosophy of ministry followed by the church.

“Our vision is to redefine what people think when they hear the word Christian,” Bush explains. “In Colorado Springs the word ‘Christian’ comes with a lot of negative baggage. So our goal as a church is to create a place where people feel safe no matter what their story. ‘Me too’ is something we say a lot around here and basically means, weve all screwed up and were all broken and hopeless without the grace of Jesus. Were also trying to make DCC a place that people want to invite their friends to so they can hear that message. Therefore, everything that we do from an AVL perspective is to make people feel safe and to engage them in a way that is familiar and comfortable for them. Honestly, we try to make it ‘feel’ as little like a church as we can. Our goal is to get people to keep coming back so they can continue to bump in to Jesus and he can work in them.”

Part of making Discovery a “safe place” for people exploring the church or Christianity is the rock-concert style of their services. The worship time is patterned after the music of Gungor, Hillsong, Rend Collective—“A lot of the music many contemporary churches are doing,” says Bush.

However, implementing a full rock-concert experience wasn’t feasible in their initial years as a portable church, and then in leased store-front space. As soon as they were able, Discovery started looking for a space to call their own.

“We looked for a facility for about two years,” describes Bush, “but every time we thought something would work out, it fell through.” In November of 2013, however, that changed when Discovery acquired a former grocery store. And the first challenge was the goal of having their new space renovated and ready to move in by Easter weekend. Yes, that’s Easter of 2014.

For direction on how Discovery wanted their new room to work from an AVL perspective, the church pointed to Flatirons Church in Lafayette, CO. The two pastors are friends, and Discovery admired their ministry style. So when it came to selecting the AVL contractor, Discovery went with Summit Integrated Systems in Lafayette, CO, who did the Flatirons AVL design and installation.

“The biggest challenge was definitely the timeframe,” comments Brennan Wilkins, project manager at Summit Integrated Systems. “The time from November through April was for renovating all aspects of the building, not just AVL. And this included raising the roof of the section of the structure which was to be the auditorium.”

Construction Challenges

The first design meeting took place in November, right after the contract was signed.

“What really helped was that the church brought in all the trades right from the start,” says Wilkins. “The architect, HVAC contractor, electrical, general contractor, etc…. We were able to make sure that the HVAC ductwork would be as high as possible, and advise on reshaping the room to make the acoustics work better for the sound the church wanted to achieve. Bringing in everyone to be involved right at the start saves a lot of time, frustration, and money for the client.”

Raising the roof was the biggest concern for the schedule, but the general contractor tackled it in a way that optimized everyone’s time. The GC started building out the parts of the facility outside the auditorium space as well as some of the work that was inside the auditorium while waiting for the steel to show up for raising the roof. Once steel was onsite, holes were cut in the roof the size of the new columns, and the new roof was built above the old roof. Once the new roof was complete and weathertight, they cut away the old roof and finished the interior of the space.

Summit was able to get access to the space on March 3, and compressed what would normally be a six week install down to four weeks to make the Easter deadline.

The best sound system in the world can’t make a room sound good if acoustics are ignored, and Discovery avoided the trap of “value engineering” out the acoustical aspect of the design.

“The church made it easy on us by wanting the room painted completely black,” says Wilkins. “We could use black acoustical materials, and place it anywhere we needed. On the walls we used black sound select board, which was a very cost effective approach. For ceiling, thick, loose Lapendary panels were applied. And the carpet squares for the flooring and thick padded chairs also helped with sound control. We achieved a really tight room.”

Audio Systems

For sound reinforcement, Summit Integrated installed the Electro-Voice EVH line of loud speakers, powered by Lab Gruppen amplifiers. “The EVH system has good pattern control,” explains Wilkins, “it plays very loud, and sounds good at high levels. They are very efficient. And the Lab Gruppen amplifier’s reliability for their price is better than anything else we’ve seen.”

For front of house (FOH), an Allen & Heath GLD-80 digital audio console was selected, and Allen & Heath ME-1 personal monitor mixers give the band control over their own monitors.

“The GLD line has some of the features of bigger lines but at a quarter of the cost,” says Wilkins, “For the features and flexibility, nothing else from a name brand in audio consoles came close.”

Video Systems

Video display is a huge priority for the new room. Discovery wanted a large video backdrop to the stage as well as two side screens. The rear projection center screen, a Da-Lite Cinema Contour spans 30 feet by 14 feet, and the stage was designed with space for the projectors behind the screens. Two Panasonic DS-100X projectors are edge-blended together to completely cover the screen.

Switching for the screens is handled through a Blackmagic Design ATEM 2 ME (mix/effect) switcher with the broadcast panel. Two iMacs running Renewed Vision’s ProPresenter are used for graphics for the side screens and the center screen.

Two Panasonic AG-HPX370P video cameras were added for doing IMAG (Image MAGnification), along with a pre-existing Blackmagic Design cinema camera and a Panasonic GH2 video-capable DSLR added in on stage.

“For video, we wanted to get a system in that would do the basics of what we wanted to achieve, but would also give us the infrastructure to expand as we are able,” comments Bush.

The church also implemented video streaming to the Internet from the first day, and simply sends their IMAG feed out to the stream. They use Live Stream to implement this capability.

Concert Lighting

“We really wanted to engage the audience with concert-level lighting,” states Bush. Therefore, the church made a pretty significant investment in their lighting system.

“The lighting system is a blast,” adds Wilkins. “Our go-to console is the Vista line from Jands. We set them up with the Vista software running on a Mac Mini, with the S1 control surface. Its user-friendliness is unsurpassed.”

“The Vista is my favorite piece of equipment in the new room,” adds Bush. “The software makes it really easy, as the system is so visually oriented. Youd never know we were new to lighting—its so easy to program. And once programmed, anyone can run it. Steve Eller, our staff lighting director and web designer, programs the lights and volunteers run it.”

While power can be an issue for setting up lighting systems in renovated retail space, the fact that this was a former grocery store eliminated that issue. Freezers and refrigerators are power-hungry appliances, so the building already had plenty of power available.

Thirty-two ETC Source Four jrs provide traditional tungsten front lighting, and Martin Rush fixtures as well as some Elation Pro Spots provided washes and effects through intelligent lighting.

House lighting is implemented through 30 Chroma-Q Inspire fixtures. These are fully color-changing pendent-style LED fixtures designed specifically for house lighting.

“We’re seeing churches pretty consistently putting in LED lighting for their house lighting now,” comments Wilkins. “And the cost to go from pure white to color-changing is only about 20% more. It adds so much in the ability to set the mood of the room.”

A MDG Atmosphere hazer completes the lighting system, and enables the light beams from the movers to be visible and dramatic. While hazers can present a challenge for fire detection systems, the early meetings with the other construction trades helped alleviate that potential issue.

“We indicated right up front that haze would be an important part of services,” states Wilkins. “So the life safety systems people were well aware and made sure it wouldn’t be an issue.”

While Discovery Church wanted a system similar to Flatirons, their budget was only a third of what Flatirons invested. However, the smaller room, careful equipment selection and tight coordination of all the construction trades right from the start enabled them to come in on budget, with a system that met the church’s expectations. They opened the weekend before Easter, and the project was one that everyone was excited about.

Jim Kumorek is the owner of Spreading Flames Media, providing video/media production and writing services to the A/V/L, technology, architectural and hospitality industries. He has led audio, video and lighting teams in churches as both staff and a volunteer for over 10 years. He can be contacted at

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