By Jak Daragjati

Gluttony is one of the seven deadly sins – you don’t have to be a church leader or even a Christian to know that. Several folk-sayings support this assertion.

“Live within your means.”

“Don’t let your eyes be bigger than your stomach.”

And, most recently, a phrase from one of my favorite inspirational speakers, Shark Tank’s Daymond John:

“Harness the power of broke.”

These adages, new and old, relate to many things in life, including (especially!) technology.

Latest Doesn’t Necessarily Mean Greatest

When you think about technology, it’s easy to get caught up in the latest and greatest – from the newest iPhone, Beats headphones, or even that 4K curved OLED screen bigger than most living room walls.

The problem is that technology changes so fast, it’s virtually impossible to keep up with it. The hottest items from last Christmas, or even just three months ago, are now old news – even obsolete.

Sometimes, adopting the latest technology just to keep up with the Joneses means you’re wasting money – and buying products that don’t fit your technology needs.

Have you ever seen the movie My Cousin Vinny? Do you remember the lady Mrs. Riley, with glasses so thick you can barely see her eyes? Do you remember how, even with those glasses, she still couldn’t see how many fingers Mr. Gambini was holding up?

Now imagine if you were her. Your glasses are as thick as Coke bottles, but even with them on, you still can’t see that well.

Do you really have to spend thousands of dollars on a 4K television? You may want to invest in a 70-inch screen, if your living room is big enough, but you certainly don’t need the highest resolution available today.

Here’s another analogy. You’re 70 years old and your daughter wants you to have a cell phone so she can reach you even when you’re at the doctor’s or out having lunch with your friends.

Your daughter buys you an iPhone because she wants something reliable and with a big screen. Plus, your daughter has an iPhone and she feels you deserve the latest technology. But every time you pick up the phone to make a simple call, you curse at it because you don’t know how to use it.

And FaceTime? “Face Time” used to mean having a conversation over Sunday dinner, not looking at an image on a 7-inch screen.

If you’re the member of a church technical team, of course, it’s a little different. You do want to have some knowledge of the latest technology, so you are aware of what’s possible and so you don’t fall too far behind.

But you also don’t want to upgrade your systems to the point that your volunteers won’t know how to use them or you’ve overextended your church budget, going into debt for features you may not need.

Does the Technology Meet Your Needs?

Integrators in the audiovisual industry run from one trade show and networking event to the next to make sure we’re on top of our game when it comes to the latest technology. We need to know what’s out there so we can make the best technology recommendations to our customers.

But it’s important for me to take a step back from the excitement of this bleeding edge technology and think:

“Is what I’m seeing in the manufacturers’ showrooms or on the trade show floors really what my customers need?”

When you are in charge of planning and purchasing technology for your church, it’s important to think about what you actually need to accomplish your goals. Being an early adopter of technology could cost more than it benefits.

New Tech Comes at a Cost

It may be surprising to hear a church audio / video designer and integrator cautioning you against investing in the latest technology. But it’s only because JD Pro has your best interests – and your budget – in mind.

Always ask: What is the cost of integrating this new technology?

Remember, it’s not just the cost of the equipment and installation. You’ll need to think about training for your tech team and your volunteers. Will you lose volunteers if they are frustrated by the new systems?

You need to weigh the costs against the benefits: How will the technology help you achieve your goals?

That doesn’t mean you should go out and buy the cheapest LED screens you can find.

It means you should understand how much technology you need, what features are important, and how those features will benefit your church and congregation in terms of increased engagement, growth, and publicity.

What is important is not the latest technology, but the technology you need to get the job done.

Questions to Ask Before Purchasing Technology for your Church

Instead of asking “what’s new,” when it comes to church technology, consider these questions:

  • What are you doing with the system?
  • Do you need high quality sound for spoken word and amplified music?
  • How loud does the system need to go?
  • How big do the screens need to be, given the size of your church, the seating arrangements, the average age of congregation members, and your style of worship?
  • Who makes up your congregation? What level of technology are they used to?
  • What about your technical team? Will they be comfortable with these new systems?

But What About “Future-Proofing?”

Too often, in our homes and in our churches, we say we want what’s new on the market so that we can stay ahead of the game and have it when we really need it.

But by the time you’re ready for the new capabilities, more often than not, the price for the gear has dropped substantially.

By waiting to buy the technology until you really need it, you’ll save money and will also have time to prepare your technical team.

How to “Harness the Power of Broke” with any Size Audio Video System

You don’t want to install a church AV system that provides too much or too little in the way of sound, video, and overall capabilitieSt. Christopher's Church, with new sound and video from JD Pro s. And you always want to be able to scale the systems as you grow.

But you may not need technology capable of accommodating drastic changes in your worship style or the demographics of your congregation if you don’t plan to shift direction.

What do I mean?

If you’re buying a system for your conservative church, all you may need is a few microphones for spoken word and a simple stereo speaker configuration that will project and amplify cleanly, allowing your congregation to hear intelligibly.

If your style of worship is more contemporary, with a praise band, choir singers that can really belt out a tune, and video screens and lighting that create a specific atmosphere for worship, you will need a larger, more complex AV system, with speakers that capture the full dynamic range of the singers and help the congregation feel the thumping bass.

The first type of system is fairly easy to accomplish on a budget.

But you may read about the technology requirements in a large contemporary church and wonder how you can “harness the power of broke,” with such a high-tech system.

Are modern churches engaging in gluttony when they splurge on the latest sound and video?

Not at all.

The point is to buy what you need – no more and no less – within your church’s budget.

Don’t let your eyes be bigger than your stomach.

Don’t let your love for new technology overpower your church’s real needs.

Purchase systems that are within your church’s means.

Consider the components you need right now. If budget is limited, you may have to decide that some parts of the system can wait without sacrificing the overall quality of the installation.

Find an integrator you can trust who carries a variety of brands and can guide you toward the best system to fit your church’s needs without overdoing it.

That’s what we mean when we say, “Don’t buy what you don’t need.”