Monday, July 7, 2008

implementing scent into worship design...

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)

Scent research:
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…

Proustian Effect:
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…

Scent sensitivity:
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.

Scent dissipation:
(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.

Baby steps:
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…


radioreb said...

I remember one communion sunday where the aroma of baking bread filled the sanctuary. All you could thing about the whole worship service was bread. The actual eucharist was such a welcome release.

Great post!

dorothy (vicar of vibe) said...

Exactly the idea.
Scent is such a powerful memory connector.
Making it connect to the message...
Honestly, my biggest fear is that it will get pulled at the last minute because someone (another of the power reps.) says the smell of bread (food) makes her stomach growl..
Now I've got to go find bread machines...

Jim Drake said...

We use it... sparingly. I found some Frankinsence? and Myrhh candles for Easter--they were powerful. We also use them during some funerals since it helps overpower the CARNATION smell that funerals have. I like the TYLER Candles.. they are powerful.

Even the Glad Warmers and Room scents have helped us overcome some smells. I wish we had some last Sunday--some one had onions in the kitchen over the weekend and well, the smell had wafted up. So we needed to be on the offense, not defense.

As always, you have to be sensitive to those with allergies.

One last thing--don't miss the Pumpkin spice candles at Wal-Mart (4.97) for the fall--nothing says fall like Cinnamon.

dorothy (vicar of vibe) said...

-Oh, forgot to mention since it is a public school we are not allowed to use fire. So no real candles. That would almost be easier.
Soy based candles also seem to have a lower rate of snsitivity.
-Well, we got though the second phase of approval for the bread machines running in the service.