Posted 2 years 128 days ago ago by Doug Lawrence 0 Comments
With apologies to my many media tech gurus who know a lot more than I about this, I would like to give my opinion on this subject from a producer’s perspective. Every church employee needs to have at least a working knowledge of how this equipment can enhance ministry. You don’t have to be the “go to” person to have an opinion and utilize the resource. See if these questions help you form your point of view.
Does it cost a great deal of money?
Comment: Make no mistake about it—media tech is one of the most expensive investments a church can make. It’s right up there with health insurance say some church business managers. While that may be true, it’s also a misconception that this technology needs to break your budget.
The trick is not to start competing with the “rich” church down the street! You can have one screen and still use graphics effectively. You can have 4 stand-to mics and 4 direct boxes and still “do” church. Don’t let your last conference trip to Willow Creek dissuade you from creatively using less.
I believe that if you prudently look around on the internet, you can “trick” out your sanctuary for under $10,000, and that my friends is really, really inexpensive these days. It’s all a matter of scale. Having said that, if your church seats 500 or more people, there’s not a chance you can do it for 10K. Whatever you do, don’t spend $1,000,000 on a room that seats 300 folks (yes, I know a church where they did that).
Do I have to hire professionals to run it?
Comment: No. There are many so-called “turn key” systems that don’t require a PhD in electrical engineering to run them. They don’t even require a 14 year old who leads a really hot garage band—though it couldn’t hurt to check out his availability.
You will probably have to engage a good sound company to install your system and a good theatrical lighting company to hang (only) the instruments you really need. In the long run these two investments will pay off big time!
Yes, it would be better to hire people who know what they’re doing. Yes, you’ll live if you can’t afford that.
Where do I get the visual resources to use with these wonderful “toys”?
Comment: The websites below represent some of the best inexpensive (to free!) resources available to churches on a tight budget.
I believe any church can have spectacular sounds, looks, and feels for a reasonable price, though I tend to think that sound resources need to be of the highest quality you can afford.
Are there rules about audio?
Comment: Well, as I said above, don’t be cheap on this one. Spend money where you will get the most bang for your buck—sound is one of those places. If people can’t understand what you say or sing, their primary stimulus mechanism will be lost and none of the others will be triggered as a result.
Are there rules about graphics?
Comment: Yes. Use them! People who say they aren’t visual learners are wrong (if they’re sighted). People are being targeted with millions of visual cues on a daily basis, and while you may not be aware of them, they change how you recognize concepts, ideas, and actions to be taken.
A good rule of thumb about good use of visual imagery in the church is to not be too literal. For example: That “authentic” painting of Jesus that shows up on hundreds of church screens across the country (also most Bible/book stores and in EVERY church library) is what I often refer to as a “dime-store Jesus” because it is everywhere and it’s way to obvious for me to form a personal conception of the mystery of the Christ who saved me. I’m just sayin’!
BTW, moving graphics are very much in vogue and can be lovely, but don’t let your personal discovery of a very cool graphic decide the whole agenda for your worship. We used to call that distracting!
Are there rules about video?
Comment: Use video to give good information in an interesting way, but don’t use it to show off what a clever editor you are on iMovie. Video is one of the most compelling forms of communication in the 21st century church. The rule really is pretty basic...
“Less is more!”
Question 7 When is too much just too much?
If you bought a new car that could drive fast you would at least be tempted to exceed the speed limit. If you get a bunch of new media tech equipment at your church, you will be at least tempted to overdo the sound, lights and screen toys you acquired.
Doug Lawrence, internationally recognized speaker, author, and advisor, helps churches assess and improve their skillfulness in creating engaging worship experiences by utilizing his more than 35 years of "deep trench" worship leadership in prominent mainline churches. has been a consultant to church leaders for 35 years and is anxious to be helpful to you in leadership, musical, and staffing considerations. Or, if you wish, call 650.207.8240 for assessment information and scheduling.
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