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What should we spend on Church Technology? Or, Why Does it Cost So Much?

Articles, Excellence in the Arts, Stewardship, Technology - by - January 25, 2011 - 13:55 Etc/GMT+5 - Be first to Comment!

If  technology used in the church is of poor quality (in the eyes of those attending), it will tend to reflect poorly on the message, evening cheapening the message. If the technology is too glitzy and fancy (again, in the eyes of those attending), it will make the message feel more like a story, entertainment, even fantasy. We want to get the right system into the right church to give the right message while recognizing that the real question being asked is,  “But, how can we make the most of available resources?”

When talking with non-tech church leaders about new technology solutions for their church, I hear this question often. More often than not the pre-convieved idea about how much tech equipment should cost comes from a person’s past experience purchasing a home entertainment system, business projector,  or portable audio system (think boombox). Where the church’s technology level should fall is dependent on several factors:   structure needs, attendance demographics and style, and stewardship.

It is important to understand that your structure demands technological solutions. The size and shape of rooms, their functions, building materials and isolation all play a part. Gymnasiums are not concert halls, classrooms packed with kids make noise. A small young church I’ve been in has Scripture punctuated with the sound of flushing plumbing. Another preacher I helped was fighting A/C noise. When possible, make structural and building decisions with the input of an acoustic and AV consultant in order to avoid problems. This usually means spending more on building materials up front so that you spend less on technology later. (But who is going to tell you that? The building contractor trying to make his bid look most competitive?)

Another demand on technological solutions comes from your congregation. Who is coming to your worship facility? Are your people accustomed to video? Frequent concert-goers? Hard of hearing? Lots of families with a huge need for children’s resources? How many people are filling the space? Are you three-hymns-and-a-sermon or mixed media? Some churches are basic, some all-out, and some require flexibility. It’s about the degree to which media is leveraged in delivering the message to a particular culture or sub-culture.

Quality is another relative factor in the cost of technology that few people understand. There is your consumer gear made by Chinese laborers whose wages don’t compare to your Starbucks budget.  Give due to how much is invested in technology for commercial and entertainment presentations where millions of dollars can be invested into bringing a tight performance. Very few churches approach this level (and many question if they should) yet questions arise to why “we” can’t do this because “they” do it all the time. To best steward both your resources and the R&D time others spend, choose technology wisely according to your bent. Perhaps it’s a stretch, but “Train up a system in the way it should go, and when it is old you won’t be paying for it.”

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