Security Cameras VS Worship

Our security team is considering the placement of IP cameras in the worship center.

– Does anyone have experience with installing security cameras in the actual worship/auditorium/convocation center?
– Has it had any impact, positive or negative, on the worship experience?
– Any opinion on mounting them on stage looking at the congregation?

Thanks for the input!

I can see your concerns but I would push back that a properly implemented security camera is as close to invisible at possible. There are places where you want them to be seen but there is no reason you can’t implement them in the worship space making them unseen.

All that said, what is your goal with these cameras?

Hi Chris,

The goal is safety of the congregation. We’d like to be proactive on any threat. These particular cameras would be monitored live during services and are PTZ. There’s also having footage of incidents that occur to protect the church’s liability. In the past we’ve had issues with folks under the influence of whatever and allegations that wouldn’t have a legal standing with the existence of a recording. This is my understanding, but I’m only involved at the IT Infrastructure level.

Not only are cameras in worship spaces common these days, but to be honest most people have grown accustomed to CCTV systems as an every day part of their public life, for good or bad.

All that to say no, I don’t think they would have any impact at all, muchness a negative one.

While never the sole source of footage for the room, it is fairly common to mount PTZ camera(s) at the front of the auditorium looking back at the congregation.

But this touches on an underlying issue in designing CCTV systems that I think is often overlooked.

Namely, that CCTV systems are rarely designed to actually deliver on the role they were asked to fulfill.

In order for a CCTV to cover a space well and provide after-the-fact insight into complex scenarios, you typically need a number of different image streams.

  • You have your foundation shots, these are fixed-lens-and-position cameras which blanket the whole space, ideally from multiple angles, so that after the fact you understand the greater “context” of the situation.
  • You have your ingress/egress shots, these are fixed-lens-and-position cameras which give you good facial shots of people both coming and going from your facilities choke points.
  • You then have your region of interest shots, these are (typically, but not always) PTZ cameras with enough zoom and resolution to be able to give you specific information about whatever area in your overall foundational shots needs attention.

While not every project needs each of these shots as discrete components, I hope I am communicating the overall goal, which is to maintain overall situational awareness at the same time as collecting both identifying and region of interest information.

Typically (often) CCTV systems are installed without considering these discrete needs and how they interact with the facility as a whole. When this happens the facility may end up with a lot of cameras that can theoretically cover the entire space, but in reality don’t capture enough contextual information to answer the questions they were meant to.

-Karl P

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We are planning on installing some in our Worship Center. Be aware that if the cameras have infrared lights built in, that light will also show up on any other cameras in the area (imag/stream cameras).

Yep, this is why $client installed several 15MP cameras in their auditorium. A pretty OK balance of detail and still able to have establishing data.

We installed some PTZ Cameras in our worship center recently as part of a major security upgrade. I was afraid they would stick out like a sore thumb but knew they were needed for proper coverage. In all honesty most people don’t give them a second thought. Like several others said, people are used to it! From a security standpoint they have already come in handy in the short time we have had them.

We added over 20 surveillance cameras on campus in the last year. No one noticed and if you point it out to someone, as I have done several times, their response confirms they didn’t notice. We redid ALL the campus signage this summer and no one noticed. We had to explicitly tell people to look at the new signage so they could better direct newcomers on campus. Regulars were asking where to find a couple of rooms that were renamed, even though the room names were clearly marked and on all the new campus maps and signs. People who are regulars filter out this stuff. They aren’t looking for it. On the other hand, new people see all this stuff.

Building on the responses from others, I would say they are accepted and expected. As Alex said, a couple PTZ are great for a manned security operation but you also need to install a good number of fixed position cameras that cover the entirety of the area from several angles and include all ingress/egress. The PTZ approach is useless for after the fact response.

We have two Axis PTZ cameras up in our catwalk. They are actually used for attendance counting and not really for security. No one can see them, but we’re probably unique in that we have a really high ceiling. With that being said, we have a few hundred security cameras in ceiling tiles across campus. I’ve talked to a few people who have noticed them and they valued our commitment to security more than what they perceived as an invasion of privacy especially when it came to our next gen areas.

Hey Stephen,

Do you guys use the axis software to count people? or do you take pictures and count people manually? Also, how many people do you have at a typical service?


It’s all manual. We have a team of volunteers that help count. The camera has a “tour” mode that will jump and hit every single section. Then we take a screenshot to count at our convenience. A typical service averages between 5000-7000 people