Houses of Worship: A Growing and Evolving Market

Why NAMM exhibitors should capitalize on this large buying group

Dana Matas

Businesses that partner with houses of worship stand to grow as they grow. Churches, like C3 and NCC, both illustrate the tremendous growth potential that exists, particularly in traditionally “unchurched” states, like California.

Over the last decade, houses of worship have moved toward incorporating music, sound and event technology into their services in an effort to create a more worshipful experience for their congregations.

As a result, the post-modern sanctuary looks more like a concert venue and less like the stained-glass chapels of the past. This trend, along with the popularity of multi-site mega churches, not only highlights a shift in how people experience worship these days, but also a huge business opportunity among NAMM Show exhibitors.

“A lot more churches are starting to look like large event facilities and, therefore, have more complicated front of house setups,” explains James Hurley, the Audio Director of C3 Church, a multi-site mega church in Carlsbad, CA. “With NAMM expanding beyond music, to include a stronger pro audio and event technology presence, churches can look to The NAMM Show for their entire production solution.”

Just how big is this opportunity?

If religion was its own country, it would be the 15th largest economy in the world, according to The Socioeconomic Contributions of Religion to American Society: An Empirical Analysis (2016). Contributing an estimated $1.2 trillion annually to America’s GDP (and that is the low-end estimate), religion as an industry earns more revenue than Google, Apple and Amazon combined.

Multi-church sites, which make up 57 percent of the 300,000+ American churches, spend $580M in technology and more than half a billion dollars annually in audio, video and lights.* This statistic does not include smaller churches or single-site megachurches that make up the other 43 percent. If you add musical instruments into the equation, the buying power of this industry is astronomical.

North Coast Church (NCC) in Vista, CA, is a multi-site megachurch that draws 15K in attendance each weekend over the course of five different campuses. With multiple worship venues offered at several of their locations, that equates to 51 worship services per weekend. Consider the number of instruments, sound, lighting and video that goes into supporting this one church alone.

Dennis Choy, the Technical and Production Pastor for NCC explains how houses of worship benefit from The NAMM Show.

“I bring my entire technical team with me every year. It’s important for us to see how instruments and tools perform together. Where else can you take a guitar or drum from one exhibit to see how it sounds when used with a certain microphone or speaker from another? Only at the NAMM Show.”

Growing churches = growing opportunity

The nice thing about churches, from both a mission and business perspective, is that houses of worship aren’t usually satisfied with just one location. They are looking to grow and spread their message, like C3 Church, who has plans to expand from three to 16 sites. Every time the church expands, it requires additional solutions for preaching, worship and video that are in alignment with the other campuses to ensure a consistent feel regardless of which site someone attends.

Hurley from C3 Church continues, “As we execute on our expansion plans, going from three to 16 church campuses, The NAMM Show will be a key component in helping us identify the right music, sound and event technology solutions to create the worshipful environment that C3 Church aims to achieve across all its campuses."

Businesses that partner with houses of worship stand to grow as they grow. Churches, like C3 and NCC, both illustrate the tremendous growth potential that exists, particularly in traditionally “unchurched” states, like California. Music, sound and event technology professionals would be wise to consider how they can better support this growing industry (a.k.a. ministry).

Having pro audio and event technology represented at The NAMM Show fills a huge gap in our industry by giving us a complete view of our production needs, one that includes music instruments and technical equipment. Up until now, most conferences have only offered one side of the equation.

Dennis Choy, Technical and Production Pastor, North Coast Church Vista, CA

What makes the NAMM Show unique from other trade shows?

“We love The NAMM Show! It’s like Disneyland for musicians,” says Andy Na, who works alongside Choy as the worship pastor at NCC. “I take the whole worship team every year to see the latest and greatest music instruments. This year will be even better because, with the show expanding into pro audio and event technology, our entire production team will be able to attend together.”

Choy further expands on the significance of The NAMM Show expansion. “Having pro audio and event technology represented at The NAMM Show fills a huge gap in our industry by giving us a complete view of our production needs, one that includes music instruments and technical equipment. Up until now, most conferences have only offered one side of the equation.”

Why should we expect to see more houses of worship at The NAMM Show this year?

The NAMM Show is reaching out directly to house of worship professionals, welcoming them to attend the show. With a variety of pro audio and event technology education planned, as well as events like Yamaha’s Night of Worship and Worship Musician’s Sunday morning chapel services, there is plenty for them to do when they aren’t checking out the latest product demos on the show floor.

As Hurley shared, “The NAMM Show is a unique way to find out what other churches and production professionals are doing, interface with manufactures and get a clearer picture of which products to use without coordinating a massive demo on our own.”

With this type of buying power, it only benefits NAMM members to welcome houses of worship with open arms. And with the addition of the AES@NAMM Pro Sound Symposium: Live & Studio to complement the existing lineup of great education, including Dante Certification, houses of worship have more reasons to attend than ever before.

 

*Source: Anthony Coppedge; Systems, Technology and Communications; 2014.