The strobe lighting. The booming sound systems. The fancy camera equipment—high definition video and projection screens. Yes, sometimes even the fog machines.
So many churches today are becoming tech savvy. Worship services are more polished than ever, thanks to some professional-quality equipment and some super talented tech teams. Web interactivity and social media engagement are on fire.
Churches are learning how to leverage the latest in technological innovation to reach more and more people for Christ.
Here’s the thing, though: All that technology comes at a cost. Sometimes a very, very high one. Not only is the price steep, but, as with any new equipment, it’s already outdated five minutes after you buy it. If we’re not careful, we can find ourselves being sucked into a never-ending cycle of buying and upgrading equipment to stay on top of the latest tech trends.
That’s why it’s so important to think long and hard before investing in technology. When you do decide to make a purchase, you can be sure you’re stewarding your church’s financial resources in a way that’s smart, responsible, and, most importantly, God-honoring. Here are five questions to ask yourself the next time you and your team are tempted to drop the big bucks on tech.
1. Am I chasing cool?
Let’s be honest. If our motivation to buy new equipment is to follow the latest church tech trend, we probably need to consider whether it’s really a need or a just a want. Does your reasoning sound something like, “I’m buying it because all the ‘cool’ churches are doing it?” If so, wait until you can truly justify the purchase based on your own church’s circumstances and needs.
2. How well do I trust my tech person’s opinion?
If your tech guy is pushing you to upgrade, consider the source. Is he knowledgeable and trustworthy, or is he constantly drooling over the latest gadgetry like he’s a kid in a toy store? If he can explain how a new piece of equipment is a worthwhile investment that supports your church’s vision, then go ahead and consider it. But if he’s asking to buy something new every other week, revisit the issue in a month or two. You may find he’s not as enthusiastic once the next best thing comes along.
3. Can I rent it and test it first?
With new technology, there’s always the chance that its use won’t translate into the results you’re hoping for. That’s why a trial run is a great idea. It lets you measure the short-term results to see if this purchase will really benefit your church long-term. If not, you’re only out a small percentage of the cost you would have paid if you’d bought the equipment outright.
4. Can I buy it used?
If you decide a particular piece of tech is really going to serve you well, great! Start searching for a good buy. If you can stretch your dollar further, you’ll have more left over to pour back into the church’s ministry—an example of good stewardship of your resources. See if another church is selling what you’re looking to buy. Maybe a local business is closing up shop and liquidating its inventory. A little sleuthing could yield big savings on the purchase and a greater margin to serve God’s people in other ways.
5. What’ll happen if I don’t buy it?
If your tech team continues to operate with the equipment they already have, will their ability to do their job suffer? Will your church fall so far behind the curve that it will struggle to achieve its goals? If so, then you may need to go ahead and find a way to make the purchase. Or maybe your church will be just fine. Maybe your team will find other ways to innovate with what they already have. In that case, you should feel confident postponing or nixing a new purchase altogether.
Sometimes, upgrading technology is inevitable. But when you pause to consider every aspect of a new tech purchase before you make it, you might be surprised to realize that you don’t always need the latest gadgets on the market. If you realize you’ll survive without them before dropping the big bucks, congratulations! You’ve successfully avoided a fall into the black hole of technology.