If you know me, you know that I have a fascination with all things technology. I have a lot of fun with gadgets and screens, but I love it when they can be incorporated into ministry to make things better.
Several years ago, I was visiting my friend Frank Bealer at one of the Elevation campuses. He was showing me their office environments and as I was walking through the staff break room, I did a double take. There was an iPad embedded in the wall.
“Hey Frank! What’s this for? Why is there an iPad embedded in this wall?”
He explained that it was for office ambience. Music. It was for music. They had several Sonos speakers set around the offices that were wirelessly connected to the iPad in the break room. Actually, anyone could access the speakers from their smart phone, but having a centralized iPad was perfect for controlling the playlist/volume. I made a mental note. I was going to put an iPad in a wall.
Several months later, we were giving our kids lobby an overhaul. We were ripping out the existing design and replacing it with an entirely new look. We were so excited. I was excited for a lot of reasons, one of which was the iPad I planned to embed in the wall.
For years, we had a CD player in a side closet that played music through ceiling mounted speakers in the lobby. The problem was that the CD typically stopped playing after 45 minutes and everyone forgot to hit play again. I’d walk into the lobby and say, “why isn’t there music?” Eventually we’d plug in an iPod or something to play a playlist that would last all morning. But the redesign was my big chance. This iPad would do more than just music.
First of all, we bought a wall mount for the iPad. There are a lot of options out there. We wanted something that looked good with the lobby design and was secure/theft-proof. The speakers were connected to a stereo in an adjacent backstage space. I simply plugged an audio chromecast into the stereo and connected the iPad that way. Lastly, we picked up a used iPad off craigslist for a couple hundred bucks. We didn’t need anything fancy, just a screen.
For lobby ambience, we also added a small lighting rig. We had lights hitting the major walls and check-in areas. The lighting made everything look 10 times better. Typically, you control lights with a light board… unless you have an iPad. We’ve used the Luminair App in our student ministry area in the past. It didn’t always work the way we wanted, but it was the perfect solution for controlling the lights in our lobby.
Lastly, we had some big screens TV where we would have rolling announcements. The’s TV’s were connected to a Mac Mini in the adjacent backstage space, running propresenter. Obviously, we installed the propresenter app on the iPad. If we needed to restart the slideshow or make any presentation adjustments, we could access it directly from the iPad.
Lights. Audio. Video presentation. All controlled from an iPad in the wall. Yes, this was definitely one of my favorite things. It’s only a matter of time before I do something like this at home.
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