When I first started attending Pulpit Rock Church, I fell in love with the people, the preaching, the music, and the ministry.
But I did not fall in love with the tech and worship space. The PRC worship team played through a 20-year-old Crest Audio board, through speakers that I suspect had been made “custom” by a team of volunteers, and on a platform that had been built for drama productions – a multi-tier, neutral gray monstrosity that allowed us to hide all sorts of creatures beneath it: cable snakes, dust bunnies, and more than one dead mouse.
All of this, of course, had been bought and paid for by a caring group of long-term attendees over the 40-plus years of Pulpit Rock’s existence, so I don’t want to undermine the compassion and generosity of these church members. However, when I arrived in early 2012, it was clear we were in need of an upgrade.
Pulpit Rock Church began its existence as Temple Baptist Church in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and through decades of change, growth, and relocation, our buildings opened their doors to as many as 2,000 people on a Sunday morning to as few as a couple hundred.
We currently host about 700-750 over two Sunday morning services, and we have many more attending small groups, classes, youth ministry events, and children’s programs. But our Sunday morning facilities usage is dwarfed by the weekday activities – Pulpit Rock Church rents its space to a Monday- through-Friday charter school.
When Pulpit Rock first moved in, we were the renters of the space – the school at the time allowed us use of their centralized gymnasium and surrounding classrooms. Over the years, as Pulpit Rock bought the building, erected a second facility for events and
student ministry, and began converting the interior spaces into more of a “churchy” space, the gymnasium was converted as well.
Gray carpet was glued to the back walls of the octagonal-shaped interior cavern, gray carpet was installed, and – you guessed it – gray chairs were purchased and placed in the room. A er all, this “gymnatorium” had to function as a multi-use space: a Sunday worship space, a mid-week meeting hall and drama stage for the school, and a Wednesday evening AWANA room for dozens of kids.
This was the space I walked into in 2012, and this was the space I began volunteering in shortly thereafter. I helped lead worship, played in the band, ran sound, lights, and slides, and generally jumped in head first to anything the worship pastor asked for. About a year after we started attending, I became the Director of Worship.
We had purchased a brand-new sound board (a Behringer X32), some new speakers (this time from an actual company!), and I had started making small changes to the tech lineup the worship team used: in- ear monitoring (Behringer’s P16 system) instead of age-old Yamaha wedges, better drum mics, and music stands that didn’t squeak (as much) or fall apart (as much). But the room still felt... tired. It was still a multipurpose space, but it had never really been designed. It had sort of fallen together over the decades, added to and slightly modi ed by crews and volunteers and worship pastors. I had dreams of what our space could be – a church sanctuary first, and a school auditorium, event center, and multipurpose facility second. I had some basic sketches and photoshopped additions on my hard drive, but as with any church, monetary restrictions prohibited a massive, one-shot overhaul.
... Until October 1, 2015
On that fateful day I walked into the auditorium for our Thursday worship band rehearsal to see chunks of concrete raining down from a couple hundred holes in the ceiling. The roofers we had recently hired, had drilled through the concrete roof into the auditorium, releasing tiny concrete missiles down onto our gray carpet, gray chairs, and brand-new sound board. I promptly dismissed the band out of fear of asbestos and head injuries, and I made a call to our facilities lead, Luke.
The next day, we – the twenty-odd members of the PRC staff – got an “All Hands On Deck!” email. There was a lot of rain in Colorado Springs, but there was also a lot of rain inside our sanctuary. We scrambled, even buying out all of the blue plastic five-gallon buckets from local home improvement stores. We worked for hours to clear the room of debris, mop up what we could of the rainwater, and talk about options.
We were blessed to have a second building to use, and we ended up moving our main worship services to our student center. We thought it was a temporary solution, but we quickly realized what a mess we were in.
God’s timing is usually vastly different from ours. We had started saving toward a new worship space and had engaged the roofing company to install a new cover for our building – the first phase. But God decided to speed things up a bit. Combined with the insurance payouts, savings, and a small but crucial capital giving campaign, we were able to renovate the entire auditorium and finish the roof (with a different roofer this time) without taking on debt.
We had an auditorium, god gave us a sanctuary
My dream was to create a worship environment that allowed an old gym to sound as clear and beautiful as the highest-end concert venues. Quite a tall order, but I believe we were able to accomplish that, thanks to our AVL contractors for the job, Second Opinion Audio, LLC. Daryl Porter and Bob Langlois were able to accomplish the impossible, without hiring an expensive acoustician to measure and prepare a space using paneling and diffusers users thrown into every nook and cranny of the room.
While our designer and project manager, Jacque Fabey, worked with our GC and subcontractors to get the room in shape, I worked with Bob and Daryl to choose and install the audio and visual components.
Their first recommendation was a Meyer Sound CAL 32 system, calibrated using magic and science I don’t understand to ensure that we were pointing the crisp, clear audio only toward the seated congregants. No direct soundwaves would reach the brand-new glass-walled family room, cry room, ex room, and conference room on the upper level of our sanctuary. The balcony seating on the second level was fed by Meyer MM-4XP ll speakers, set on a time delay to provide a perfect, balanced, and controllable sound.
They added two VUE subwoofers under the new stage, cable conduit beneath the concrete floor of the room so we would no longer need the miles of extension cables we had been using for years, and stage pockets with monitor sends, DMX runs, and power, to replace the snake boxes that used to hang out beneath our feet with the dead mice.
There was much more SOA helped with, including the installation and training on our new system. Our sound and tech team had fun learning how to use a state-of-the-art AVL system, and I was, of course, proud of what our new facility looked like, sounded like, and smelled like (“new sanctuary” smell is considerably stronger than “new car” smell, but equally satisfying).
A year – to the day – after we lost our space to rain, we walked into a brand-new sanctuary on Sunday, October 2, 2016, and worshipped our Lord in a space that finally reflected the amazing ministry, fantastic preaching, and wonderful people of Pulpit Rock Church.
God is good, the people of Pulpit Rock are generous, and I am forever indebted to the team at Second Opinion Audio for their amazing work and phenomenal professionalism.
Nick Thacker is the Worship Arts Director at Pulpit Rock Church.