Technology Tips & Trip-Ups

Having had the privilege to speak and work with many pastors that have come to a crossroads in the use and implementation of technology in their churches, below are some of the most common areas of concern.
 
While most of us, whether we like it or not, have had to become computer or tech savvy to a point, very few can be authorities in the field. Lets face it, technology changes too quickly and we are called to shepherd people, not to be technology experts. Because of that, sometimes well meaning “creative people”, “musicians”, or “engineers” have pushed pastors into making poor decisions because “this is what our church needs”.
 
We scratch our heads and think really?  Or I thought we just bought ______________.
 
Here are some thoughts to help you the next time someone comes and says something like: “Pastor we need to buy a digital board it will take care of every sound problem that we have.”
 
1. To borrow a phrase from Andy Stanley “Define your win”. In other words, technology can still be filtered through your mission and vision for the church. Make those that are proposing a purchase, change, or upgrade define what the outcome will be? Can that outcome be measured? Does that outcome fit in with your vision? For example: “Pastor we need to buy moving lights, it will make us more relevant to young people.” Will lights alone make you more relevant to young people? Probably not any more than flashing lights would make a physics lecture better. Is attracting more young people a God given focus right now? Are we making philosophical changes across the culture of our church to meet that goal?.
 
2. Keep an inventory. I have seen many churches purchase equipment simply because they didn’t know that they already had something that could fill the need. Have your people look at the inventory of what you already have and make sure that you don’t currently have something that could fit the need or provide a solution. It’s all right to make baby steps (more on that next). For example: Maybe you really do need a lighting change, a splash of color, or the ability to shine some patterns on the stage. Maybe you have two or three old projectors in a closet. Use those with simple patterns and colors before investing in something else.
 
3. Take small steps forward. Every large purchase or technology change should be accompanied by an equal or greater investment in the people that will operate it. If your volunteers don’t know how to use it, you won’t get the benefit out of it. Small steps will allow your people to grow to use greater tools. At Bellerose we used old video equipment with new infrastructure to take a step toward broadcasting services. It was a minimal cost but has allowed our volunteers to learn techniques and technology before we make the investment into new High Definition equipment.
 
4. Just because everyone is doing it doesn’t mean you need to. Everyone is using Facebook, Twitter, and YouVersion right?  If you don’t have the structure or trained people to do it well it, might not be for you. Good use of some technology means having the right people or structure to do it well.  Not having a cohesive up to date social media presence could be more detrimental to your image in the community than not having one at all. Pastor, your personal page should not double as the church information outlet. It doesn’t mean that a small church without a communications director can’t use the tools. It just means that a church of any size needs to evaluate everything that they use technology for and see if they can leverage and use it well for God’s vision and purpose where they currently are.
 
I hope that these thoughts and observations are a help to you. The world of sound, media, and technology is constantly changing and we are all on a journey with it.
NathanFrank_bio Nathan Frank, together with his wife Jamie, serves as Associate Pastor at Bellerose Assembly of God in Bellerose (Queens), NY.

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