Write these key questions right above those items on your tech shopping list.
1. “What problems do we need to fix?” Before you begin enhancing any aspect of your multimedia program, look at where you need immediate help.
2. “Can we improve without new equipment?” Better windows to keep out external sound, lighting dimmers to make video screens easier to see, and increased maintenance (swapping out microphone batteries, for example) allow current equipment to operate at its best.
3. “How often will we use it?” If that extra flat-screen is only for Christmas and Easter services, it might make more sense to rent it when you need it.
4. “For how many events/activities can we use it?” A specialized microphone system might not make sense if you’re only going to use it occasionally, whereas a top-notch public address system is likely to be used every week.
5. “Who will be using it, and what will it cost to train those people?” If no one knows how to use it, you might end up with new gear and the same results. Instead, consider renting the equipment from a source that sends knowledgeable technicians to operate it.
6. “Does it have a long shelf life?” If upgrades (such as for wireless microphones) will outweigh usage, rental might be the call.
7. “Who will service it when it goes out of warranty?” If you’re in a big city, this might not be an issue, a more rural church might have to wait weeks for a repair visit.
8. “Is it expandable?” If budget is an issue, install the minimal level of equipment that will allow worshippers to hear and see the service, for example, and then upgrade as your budget allows or after you pay off that initial purchase.
9. “Who is making the decision?” Do you have an audio-visual committee of knowledgeable people or a consultant making recommendations?
10. “Am I getting carried away here?” Remember, any money you spend on this results in fewer dollars for other church ministries.
And About That Sound System …
“Are we growing rapidly?” Sound systems are specific to their space. Don’t buy an expensive system for a sanctuary that seats 200 and expect to be able to use it in your new facility that seats 600.
“Should we make our audio recording equipment more of a priority?” The quality of recording and duplication equipment is often overlooked, but these are crucial tools in getting your church’s message out.
“Is a digital mixer right for us?” With more mixing features, automation and less interference, digital mixers provide increased flexibility. However, they do cause a delay that worship leaders and performers with in-ear monitors must learn to tolerate
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