I strive to incorporate more 5S (5 senses) into experiential worship design…
For me, it started with a simple idea of being able to infuse the worship venue with scent. I had been looking for an opportunity to include scent as a design element in worship. The opportunity arose when the creative design team agreed to letting us create an ocean ambiance set.
This is a short synopsis of about 40 hours or research conducted over a two week period.
(A lot of the material presented here is from one commercial website. But it simply provides a cross section of realistic information what was confirmed by our study of multiple sites)
Shows that one of the most powerful senses that we have is the sense of smell.
Scent is the strongest sense tied to memory…
It sparks emotions...
It enhances experiences…
Basically it is what happens in your brain when a smell unleashes a flood of memories, taking you back to a particular time and place…
Going into this design element I was very aware of the issue of scent sensitivity. Since I am highly sensitive to smells. I can’t walk down the laundry soap aisle in a store without my throat starting to close up, my eyes watering and itching and my skin starts to itch.
Also consider the fact that scent marketing is currently being used in many commercial applications from the Indianapolis Children’s Museums to major retail establishments (Nordstrom, Saks) and high end hotels and entertainment venues (Disney). This wouldn’t be utilized so widely if extensive research hadn’t been conducted.
There is also a lot of difference in pure essential vs. chemically enhanced scents and the impact on sensitive individuals.
(and half-life of scent removal from the air in the venue)
Since our venue is a junior high school auditorium we also spent about a week testing the time it took to disperse the scent, the average area of coverage and timing how long it took to have the scent completely eliminated from the space…
Our first attempt to introduce scent as a worship element was arbitrarily shot down. After finally talking to the “power rep.” I feel like it was shot down because the powers that be assumed we didn’t understand the scent sensitivity issue and dissipation factors.
I feel the rejection of this element is indicative of communication issues. We live in a bureaucratic world, even in church. I suppose I have to create a proposal, which outlines all the research we did and prove that we can be trusted to research an element thoroughly.
The next proposal of implementing scent in the worship (bread being baked in bread machines inside the venue). I got specific permission from the “power rep” on June 28 (I have learned from the business world to always document).
Edit: Found out we had to get yet a second approval, from the same person.
Smell sample here…