The Great Screen Debate: TV vs. Projector

This post was written by Darren MacDonald from Shepherd Media. Darren has almost 30 years experience helping churches with their video systems and would gladly help you, too.  You can reach him at or by telephone at 800-646-8336.

Every once in a while, a church will contact us asking about the idea to use a TV instead of a projector.  Usually, the conversation starts out something like this:

“We have an old projector, and it just doesn’t look good.  I get much brighter images and better color on the TV at home…”

While this isn’t totally fair to compare the “old” (Gosh, in some cases we see churches using 8-9-10+-year-old projectors and wonder why they don’t look good anymore!) projector to a TV, there are some real concerns one has to consider before pursuing this:

  • TV’s have a glass front that, unless one is sitting straight/square to the screen the glass, reflects light.  If you notice whenever you see a TV used at an airport or restaurant they are always angled down to aim at the spot where one would stand to read that TV.  In a church application, the screens are high (above everyone’s head) and there wouldn’t be a way to angle square to the whole room.
  • In most municipalities, the building code requires the use of commercial displays (not consumer TV’s) that are UL rated for such use whenever installing in a public building (like a school or a church).   Such commercial displays will cost significantly (ie 3-4x’s) more than a consumer TV from a big box retail store.
  • You can’t consider the cost of the display without also thinking about the mounting hardware, electrical requirements, and cable runs that are often longer to a TV location than to a projector position.


  • The ultimate proverbial nail in the coffin for using TV’s as worship display is the size.  For example, an 80” TV is measured diagonally.  Such a size only has a 39” tall viewing screen.  Remember, the goal for true worship technology is to engage the audience and enhance communication.  Bare minimum, “I can squint my eyes and read it if I have to,” is not quality engagement with your worshipers.  TV displays are designed and manufactured to watch football on the couch from 10-15 ft away, not read text from 30+ ft away.


In almost every case compared, a projector and screen will be bigger, better, and cheaper than a TV solution.

Darren MacDonald Written by:

Darren MacDonald has almost 30 years experience helping churches with their video systems. You can reach him at for any church video needs you may have.