Jeff Chaves from Church Production digs deeper into the potentials of Virtual Reality and what it could possibly do for churches in the long run. VR is starting to play a role in sports but in a church? Jeff received insight from Jeremy Bailenson director of Stanford University's Virtual Human Interaction Lab.
VR FOR CHURCHES: THE NEXT GUTENBERG MOMENT?
Cut Off From Reality
Perhaps the larger issue for the church market is the question of connectedness. Doesn’t wearing VR goggles naturally cut us off from the people around us? The answer from one expert might surprise you. Jeremy Bailenson is the founding director of Stanford University’s Virtual Human Interaction Lab. He has been studying the physiological and psychological effects of VR on human behavior for decades, and produced hundreds of pages of research. Bailenson says, “The beauty of networked VR is that it allows people to share a common experience. Our work has demonstrated that shared virtual reality can cause people to gain empathy for one another."
In other words, it helps people connect when they share a VR experience. Bailenson’s research would indicate that people feel more like they've had a “real” experience after viewing VR versus watching the simple rectangular image. Perhaps this is because we are so accustomed to video that we really connect in a deeper way to 360 images.
Bailenson’s findings should give us some ideas about better connecting with people using this technology. For example, webcasting church services may actually drive people closer to a church body. A recent survey indicates that people like to view a worship service on line before they come in person. Should that experience be a 360 video?
Another use could be with missionary videos. If a VR camera could be taken to the field, would church members better connect to that African orphanage or South American outreach? Would that build deeper empathy and engagement for the cause?
What if parents could take a virtual tour of your church’s nursery or kid’s classroom? That might make them feel better about leaving their little ones. Does the youth group need a VR video of there gathering? Would more young people attend if they were first connected virtually?
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