Gearing Up for Worship: The Ten-Year Rule
Nothing in my Technical Director’s Handbook says I should use the church resources to create a personal gear playground.
Tags: audio, church, design, lighting, production, sound, training, video,
Several years ago, Church On the Move (COTM, Tulsa, Okla.) started changing how we did just about everything. Virtually nothing was left untouched, how we did church, how we served our guests, how we worked as a team, and how we functioned technically. Since this involved spending some significant dollars on equipment and infrastructure, I had to get serious about how we handled our equipment planning and purchases.Planning out the purchase of new gear is a serious topic—no matter the size of your church. It would be a safe bet that most church technical directors maintain a similar type of responsibility and financial stewardship associated with managing the resources that have been entrusted to them. That being said, I’m sure many of us have witnessed firsthand an instance where the technical staff may have loaded up on gear that wasn’t really necessary to get the job done. I’ve honestly never understood this—nothing in my Technical Director’s Handbook says I should use the church resources to create a personal gear playground. Rather we should be making the hard decisions to come up with what’s best for the church and its vision, determining what’s best for the congregation and the overall worship experience, and finding the best way to forecast the future needs of the church. And no, there really isn’t a Technical Director’s Handbook that I’m aware of—sorry.Budgeting and acquiring gear can be a real challenge in most church situations. Being a technical director who’s never been that much of a gear-head, I’ve found it interesting that I’m the one ultimately responsible for the equipment side of things; go figure. When I first made the transition from full-time touring to church life, the scope of this part of the job was honestly a bit overwhelming. All of a sudden I had the monumental task to immediately assess and deal with all of our equipment needs, both new and existing, not to mention dealing with their budgeting, acquisition, depreciation, and associated maintenance. DEVELOP A REFERENCE POINT I was in need of a grid or starting point for how to approach some of the more significant purchases. Not wanting to be the guy mentioning a major upgrade item every time we had a staff meeting, I started playing with an idea I call the “10 Year Rule.” This is exactly what it sounds like. For any major item, I would look for something that would last us for a minimum of 10 years. Yes, I’m very much aware this is a pretty tall order, but turn the tables and think about it. As in most churches and ministries, we have a Chief Financial Officer who is balancing everything the ministry needs financially day in and day out. This person has to have impeccable trust that the various staff leaders are primarily focused on the big picture for the church and not just one little aspect. Hitting the CFO with major equipment purchases every year or so can really start to become a big deal for the church. Conversely, proposing these items only once a decade ... now we’re talking. Of course, I’m not saying you only purchase equipment every 10 years, I’m just suggesting that for some of the big ticket items like audio consoles, LED video products, video cameras, moving lights, projectors, video switchers, fiber optic infrastructure, and the like, you might begin to strategize ways to make these items last for 10 years. It can revolutionize your thinking on what equipment is practical and necessary. The 10-Year Rule may require a re-boot of sorts in your thinking, forcing yourself to consider gear with a long-term proactive mindset vs. a short-term reactionary mindset.