This year is quickly coming to a close, and you may be thinking about many areas of your ministry, where you’d like to take it in the coming year.
The true reality is your technical arts department is just one of several ministries that your organization needs to share resources with.
As you do that, a few things may immediately come to mind, resulting from your experiences over the past year. Many of those areas could use some improvements, in areas that you constantly found yourself dealing with repairs, while leadership stretched resources. Then there are some areas that you’d just like to expand on and bring in new technologies, to raise your ability to do more with current relevance.
However, the true reality is your tech arts department is just one of several ministries that your organization needs to share resources with. Then there is the additional reality that your department can very easily require some of the most cost-intensive capital investments that the organization will invest in.
So how does one convince leadership to entrust you with capital resources for both current and future purchases?
First and foremost, you must earn the trust of leadership. You must realize, any amount of funds given to your department, originate from the faith given tithe of an attendee of your church.
Let that weight just sink in a little.
It’s also something you should always remember, before asking for any of the church’s future financial resources.
It is imperative that you honor and be faithful to do your best with what is given to you. Keep your work spaces clean, put valuable gear away in secured storage, and keep gear away from potential harm (which may include items otherwise being within arm’s reach in rooms that may have multipurpose uses for varied events and age ranges). Follow safety standards with rigging, lifts, ladders, and other high-risk activities.
If you have aging tech or gear that is no longer in use by your department, do your best to recoup some of its value by selling those items, via Craigslist, eBay or through a Facebook group.
I have literally seen inexperienced techs throw thousands of dollars in the trash, because they were unaware of the value and the purpose of some of the gear that they had on hand. Only to then make the mistake to insist that they need to spend thousands of dollars on sought after gear or to replace spare parts, cables, and accessories. At some point, they then realize that much of what they now need, they actually had at one point, but had thrown away.
Do your research to understand what resources you currently have, and look how to either recoup the value of the tithe invested, or how those resources can be safely organized and stored for future use?
Be able to say “yes”
“Yes” is a big thing to leadership, it means that they can move forward with their vision, while knowing that they have your support.
Look to purchase equipment that has a greater ability to allow you to say, “yes.” Failing to do so, when in the midst of making purchases, can inevitably lead to limitations. If your answer to leadership when these situations arise, repeatedly ends up being a “no,” that will compound the lack of trust, which was previously noted.
When you think about future expansions and purchases at your church, consult your leadership and any areas that your technical department may support. You may find the harder you work at meeting their needs, the trust factor will increase exponentially. The more times you say “yes,” the more trust and financial resources will be allocated to your ability to direct that capital investment.
Flexibility goes a long way with tech choices
Strive to purchase equipment that can be flexible, multipurpose, and represent long-term use across the church’s many ministries. It might be awesome for you to buy a single niche item, like the very expensive mic capsule for your lead singer. But how well does that single investment serve the versatility of the church, particularly if you have limited resources?
If you are like most churches, your financial resources could be very tight. In many cases, leadership is left to wonder why the tech department needs to purchase anything in the coming year, unless something breaks.
Think about your needs can be met with a particular piece of added gear or tech, and how that piece can be used in multiple ways, serve many ministries, and be a purchase that can be of versatile use, for many years to come. If leadership understands you have multiple uses in mind for a particular purchase, the chance of you being given the capital funds for it increases exponentially.
An example of a need that you might have is to add monitors for the band. But instead of just coming to leadership saying that you need monitors for the band, what if you proposed purchasing four self-powered speakers? Those speakers can serve as monitors, front or side fills for special events, portable outside event speakers for a concert at the park, or speakers for a spontaneous movie night outside one night, on the wall of the church facility.
Additional support for such tech expenditures will come when you also have purchases in mind that look toward accounting for the future. Such as thinking about gear that can be used for church growth. If you know that the church is going to build a children’s wing in the near future, think about resources that could potentially be used now in one area, but can be moved into the new children’s wing, once it is ready.
It’s safe to say most churches want to see and expand on volunteer involvement. Making purchases that can enable having more volunteers be engaged is a key target for leadership to invest church finances.
This might mean your equipment choices may require you to tailor the tech to your volunteer culture. The most advanced gadget might be the coolest from your perspective, but it may be too far out of the scope of understanding to the average volunteer. Also consider that at some point, you might not be around to lead those volunteers, and you have to ask yourself whether they could potentially operate much of the gear on their own, if you took a weekend off or even moved on to another job.
Placing volunteers at the forefront of your technology purchases may also mean that training must be tailored to meet volunteer needs. It’s OK to buy that slightly fancier audio console, if you’ve learned that a neighboring church has placed many volunteers on it. Going further, you must ask whether you also have the ability to train your volunteers on that same piece of gear.
Some of your annual budget investment should take a serious look at training potential in both what conferences or certified training courses you can attend and/or whether to bring in a specialized professional to help you with your training goals.
Plan for future failure
It’s easy to make out a plan for the coming year, in terms of planned purchases to meet current needs and ministry expansion. The hardest part to planning expenditures in the coming year is for expenditures that haven’t happened yet, in the form of equipment failures.
There are two areas to look at here in terms of failures. The first would be regular maintenance and small item repairs. Small repairs would include cable repairs, lamp replacements for lighting and projectors, computer hard drive replacements, lighting fixture repairs, and other small to mid-priced items that can easily be fixed.
The second tier of failures are potentially service-stopping, large-ticket items. Those may include your sound system, audio console, lighting console, projectors, computers, cameras, video switchers, and more.
Make sure you have a running spreadsheet of the major equipment that your department is using. Denote which equipment has backups for (without any added expenditure, such as a spare portable mixer on hand for outreach events, should your audio console not boot up one day). Also write down the potential replacement or repair cost for an absolute failure. Keep closer track on some of the oldest of the larger ticket items, along with its state of reliability.
Previously I mentioned that the technical department just may benefit from some of the largest capital investment that a church will spend its lifetime resources on. It’s really important for them to know, that should a major component go down, what it’s going to cost in terms of unexpected expenditures. The hardest part of this process is to not make these reports come across as all doom and gloom to leadership.
Think about beginning a process in which your organization begins to put aside money, to cover large unexpected failures, as an “end of life” account. Some organizations can begin this separate account as a bucket for emergency expenditures, while some larger churches can annually budget simply for the tech departments to have an annual amount to be placed in this future bucket.
However you choose to approach your church leadership, asking for financial resources to invest in your department, put first and foremost the topic of trust in everything you do.
If you take care of your current tech resources, leadership will know when you come to them to discuss a high-ticket item, that you have done everything over time to do the best with the gear that you’ve been entrusted.
With organization, versatility, options and earned trust, you will find it far easier to meet the current and future tech needs of the church, with financial support of your leadership.