Though I’ve been doing this for a long time, now that I’m in the business of helping churches with their technology, I see a lot of depressing things. I’ve lost count of how many churches I walk into and see stacks of mismatched gear lying around, some of it not even connected. When I ask about it, the answers vary, but usually center around the theme of, “Yeah, that didn’t work like we hoped.” I’ve seen stacks of wireless mic receivers, their antennas touching and ask how they work. “Some work OK, but we get a lot of noise, dropouts and some don’t work at all.” Many of these tech booths are just a mess and to be honest, it breaks my heart. I see a lot of money wasted, visions not fulfilled and operator frustration. And most times, it could be avoided.
Beware the Internet
The internet has been a boon to the tech community. The relationships we have not with each other is fantastic and would not have been possible without the old inter-webs. The internet has made it possible for people to learn about products and processes they would otherwise have had a hard time with. It’s even possible to get advice from others. But, and this is a big but, not all the advice is good advice. In fact, I see a lot of really bad advice out there. Well-meaning people, with a very limited scope of knowledge want to help, but often end up steering people in the wrong direction.
It’s also possible to simply go online and buy gear. Heck, Amazon will just about anything to you in 2 days for free. Again, unless you know what you are buying, you can make a lot of mistakes. Wireless mic’s are an easy example. I’ve found so many churches with wireless mic’s that don’t work because they just bought whatever they found online and didn’t bother to coordinate frequencies. My friend Karl Winkler actually took a support call from a church that didn’t even know the frequencies could be changed; they just used whatever the mic powered up with—until they bought another one on the same frequency.
I’ve been telling people for years, get a plan together before you start buying stuff. Now that I’m in the business of taking out all this gear that doesn’t work, my resolve for spreading that message is stronger than ever. Don’t waste your church’s money; get some profession help first.
It’s Not More Expensive to Hire Professionals
A lot of churches buy their own gear because they think they are saving money. And maybe they are up front. However, in a few years when the professional is finally called in and all the mismatched, non-working and ineffective gear is taken away and replaced, how much did you really save? Here’s a secret, simple formula for you; 2x > 1x. That is, buying something twice is more expensive than buying something once. I hate telling churches, “Oh, I wish you had called us first before you bought that…” And I hate it not because we lost a sale; I hate it because I see money wasted. Please, call someone first!
There are dozens of great integrators all over the country who make it their business to stay on top of trends in technology and can give excellent buying advice that I almost guarantee will save you money in the long run. Moreover, you’ll get better results with less frustration.
This topic has been top of mind for me lately as we’ve been out visiting a lot of churches and I keep seeing the same things over and over. Now that we’re in the new year, with new budgets and everyone is itchy to start buying equipment, do yourself and your church a favor and get some professional advice before running out and buying stuff. It really will cost you less and deliver better results in the long run, I promise!