Starting a church from scratch is no easy task – but that's exactly what Pastor Rick Hughes did in New Port Richey, Florida. While the inspiration came naturally, the logistics proved a bit more challenging – including choosing a technology that would help engage attendees.
The Formation of Brave Church
In 2006, Pastor Rick Hughes, originally from Dallas, moved from Texas to serve as the student pastor of Bridgeway Church in Wesley Chapel, Florida, while he received his master's degree from Southeastern University. Then, in 2015, while attending a church conference in Oklahoma, everything changed – because he felt called by God to start his own church.
In 2017, Pastor Hughes launched Brave Church, which has been expanding since its inception, with about 140 regular attendees on Sundays; 300 to 400 attendees at bigger services; and about 700 for major holidays like Easter.
The church is non-denominational, which means it does not have the financial backing of a specific denomination, or any land or a building of its own at the moment. Church services are held within Odessa (Florida) Elementary School.
"Because we meet inside the school, and we're such a new church, every week we have to set everything up to transform the school into a church, and then tear it down afterward," he said. This meant that as Pastor Hughes looked at adding technology to services, he realized anything that would go into and out of the school every Sunday would have to be portable, as well as easy to install and uninstall.
Moving to Technology
Pastor Hughes previously had used projector screens during his services, but noted that many other non-denominational contemporary churches were using high-tech displays on their stages. "Displays are becoming more popular in [houses of worship], and we thought it would be huge for us to have one to make services more interactive," he said. "We didn't have much technology otherwise."
In late autumn 2017, Brave Church added an NEC Display Solutions 65-inch E651-T display. Positioned on the portable stage and connected via cabling to projectors and a sound system, the display is used to present videos, images, Scripture and other media that go along with the services for the day.
"Having a large-format display for me to teach from has dramatically helped me as a communicator," Pastor Hughes said. "Our whole team and staff loves it, and it's a big help for our audience as well."
The portable nature of the church meant that the display would have to be mobile.
"We store everything onsite in a modular building [on the school lot] and roll everything out on wheels before the service, and the display is very easy to set up and take down," Pastor Hughes said.
More Technology in the Future
Pastor Hughes is hoping to add even more technology to Brave Church in 2019, including video of services.
"We've filmed a few of our messages, but haven't been able to use platforms like Facebook Live yet," he said. "Down the road, we plan to expand our video production staff, assuming the church and budget continue to grow."
The eventual goal is to be able to live stream and record services in a way that would create a similar experience for someone watching online as someone physically inside Brave Church, he added, and said he would look to NEC Display Solutions for additional displays that would enhance the video production.
"We've had no issues with the NEC display we have – the visuals are great, the quality is excellent and the screen isn't faded," he said. "Especially with a set-up-and-tear-down situation, you look for something that is durable and has longevity."