Pinelake Church describes itself as one church with multiple locations. Pinelake launched their multi-site churches in 2006 and since then, has grown to the largest church in Mississippi with five locations across the state and more locations planned in the future. Between the five campuses, the church’s sermons reach approximately 11,000 people attending one of their 15 services per week and between 2,000 to 3,000 people who watch the live stream online.
It all started with a request from the Senior Pastor at Pinelake Church.
Pinelake has long been known for its emphasis on teaching the Word of God in an accessible and straightforward way. The pastoral staff wanted to be able to interact with a screen during their sermons to underline scripture, circle key points, and draw illustrations, enhancing the message. They asked the church’s Worship Technology Specialist, Connor Holland, to find the best interactive panel for their needs. “I work directly for the technology director at the church and do everything from helping find new tech to enhance worship to fixing broken tech and training our team to make better use of what we have,” said Holland. “If it’s technology for worship, I’m involved.”
Despite his broad technical background and experience, Holland said that he felt slightly overwhelmed when he first began his search—the number of products and the technical options and innovations were far more extensive than he had anticipated.
The Search for the Best Interactive Panels for Their Ministry
“There were so many brands and lines of products available, and I wanted to make sure I was recommending the absolute best technology for our ministry,” Holland said. “I was looking for a panel that would look great on stage, be incredibly easy to use, and give us the best return for our investment.”
According to Holland, he zeroed in on Clear Touch® due to the company’s hands-on sales process and prompt responses. He reached out to several other companies offering similar products and couldn’t get anyone to respond to his emails, but Clear Touch® responded immediately and followed up with a phone call and visit.
“I completed an online demo with Clear Touch and, shortly after that, I received a phone call to schedule an in-person demo,” said Holland. “The fact that this company was willing to bring their product out and let me test it in person made all the difference. I may not have pulled the trigger without that demo, without experiencing the panel for myself. As the technology specialist, I also have a lot of comfort knowing that I’m working with a US-based company that I can get in touch with easily—and that I know is going to respond quickly and answer my questions.”
Since Pinelake Church was planning to use the interactive panel in a different way than most customers, Holland and his Clear Touch® representatives spent some time together making sure the panel would do everything they needed it to do.
“We’re a multi-site church with a remote congregation watching via our online stream as well, so we needed to be sure the panel would look good on camera and work seamlessly with our current technology,” said Holland. “Clear Touch helped us figure out some work-arounds to integrate the panel into our system and get the colors right for camera so our sermons would have the same quality and our church members have the same experience, whether they’re in the room with the pastor, at another campus, or watching from home.”
“The fact that this company was willing to bring their product out and let me test it in person made all the difference.”
— Connor Holland
Implementing the Clear Touch® Panels at Pinelake Church
Pinelake Church ended up purchasing two panels. One for their teaching pastors to use during their sermons, and one for the upstairs conference room. The church uses the panel in the conference room for conference calls and meetings, but the panel they use during sermons has the most visibility and gets the most use. “We use our panel multiple times a week as a teaching and preaching tool, and we’re finding that we can accomplish everything we need to,” Holland said. “We’ve also connected to other churches and been able to post and share what we’re doing at Pinelake. It’s been really cool to see the reaction, see churches reach out, and be able to help them figure it out for their congregations.” Holland says that integrating the panel into the sermons has required them to find a way to interact with and drive content from multiple places at once. For example, often the pastor is on stage interacting with the panel directly to annotate text, read scripture, play a video, or advance slides. Other times, the pastor needs to speak from the podium, walk the stage, or read from his notes or Bible while someone else advances the presentation for him. “It’s been an interesting new dynamic, working with a panel on the stage. It’s been fun to figure out,” Holland said. “Clear Touch offers a flexible, customizable solution that’s enabled us to run our unique application. It’s a great computer and an awesome panel.”
Pinelake has been able to use the optional embedded PC to remote login and control the content from another computer when needed. “We’ve used a dummy HDMI plug to control the slides from another display that the congregation doesn’t see on stage,” said Holland. “We can move the presentation forward and backward, open webpages, or click on videos without anyone seeing the mouse or browser. All they see is the full-screen display and the content itself.” In addition to the remote login capabilities, Holland and his team appreciate the strong computer, the numerous connection options, and the Android interface. “The ability to detach and upgrade the computer if a better, faster model becomes available was a major selling point for us. We picked the highest-power option and we’ve plugged an ethernet cable into it; we wanted a hardline in for the most secure connection,” Holland said. “But Clear Touch has so many options for plugging into it and connecting, I know we’ll always have the versatility we need to accomplish our goals. I also think of the Android interface as a failure mode, back-up solution. If all else fails and our computers all crash on us, the pastor can still access and control his presentation through the built-in Android interface. We never have to worry that we’ll have insurmountable technical difficulties on a Sunday morning.” As the largest church in Mississippi, Pinelake has developed an approach to preaching and teaching that takes the congregation’s needs and their time into consideration. According to Holland, their worship technology team works hard to avoid situations where the speaker has to fumble with technology. “I know everyone’s seen presentations where the speaker has to spend ten minutes figuring out how to connect the panel or get back to the previous slide. We don’t want to see that here. We take what we put up on Sunday seriously, and we’re always shooting for excellence,” said Holland. “Anything we use needs to be one-hundred percent reliable and work seamlessly. It has to be an aid and learning tool, not a distraction. Ultimately, that’s why we chose Clear Touch—because the technology puts the focus on the speaker and the message rather than calling attention to itself.”