The question has come up at every conference I’ve spoken at for the last year, and it’s been a frequent topic of e-mails as well. It usually goes something like this: “How do I convince my very non-technical Sr. Pastor to use [insert technology of choice here]. He just doesn’t seem to get why we need it.”
This is one of those questions that has multiple answers. If you ask an integrator, they are likely to advise you to sell the benefits of the technology to the mission of the church. That’s not a bad answer (and I’ll cover it in more detail in a minute). But lately, I’ve been thinking about this differently. Lately, my answer has been, “You don’t.”
The Mantle of Leadership
Right off the bat, you might be thinking, “Mike, you’ve lost your mind!” Well, hear me out. In the Biblical scheme of things, our Senior Pastor has been given (by God, mind you) the authority and responsibility to lead that particular church. It is up to him to discern the direction and mission of the church, and figure out what is best for that congregation.
By nature, we tech leaders want to continually advance the cause of technology in our churches. We see other churches doing multiple camera IMAG, or streaming to the web or big light shows, or EP or using digital consoles with hundreds of plug-ins. None of those things are bad in and of themselves (nor are they inherently good, either). These are all just tools; and each individual church will have need for some of those. Perhaps all, perhaps not.
I think the trouble arises when we become convinced that we simply have to stream our services live to the web (to use one example) and we go on a crusade to convince our leadership to spend the $5,000-50,000 it takes to do it. When they say no (which they likely will, at least at first), we get frustrated and start trying to figure out how to convince them we are right.
But here’s the deal; if they say no, we need to respect that decision. The pastor is the appointed (by God, remember) leader of the church. If he’s not convinced it’s a good idea, you need to live with that decision.
Advocate, Don’t Argue
So many times, I hear TDs arguing for the use of a given technology. “It’s just so important that we do this! It’s the medium of this generation!” they scream. I’ll debate the second point in another article, but the question is, how “important” is this really? Do we want to do [insert tech here] because we can, because it’s cool or because our friends at the hip church are doing it? Or do we really believe this will advance the cause of the gospel? For your church.
See, the reality is, not every church needs to be streaming their service live. Sure it’s cool, but is it effective? Maybe, maybe not. And if you really have a deep, deep conviction that God is calling you to [insert tech here], then sure, you can advocate this to your leadership. But never argue.
You’ll need to tie the tech back to the mission and vision of the church. How will this tech—and I’ll keep using streaming as an example mainly because it came up recently—make your church more effective in carrying out it’s specific calling. Each of our local churches has a different and unique call, and we need to be careful that we don’t get caught up in the comparison game.
Leading for the Long Term
If you really want to be in this game for the long haul, you need to learn two things. First, how to submit to authority, and second, how to effectively advocate. The tech department is at it’s core a service and support ministry. We support the vision and mission of the senior leadership. And we will serve as long as they will have us. We are not irreplaceable. To last, we need to submit, even when we disagree. And we need to learn to properly and respectfully advocate for our position.
If you can do that well, over time, you’ll build enough trust with your leadership that you won’t have to argue. Your voice will be heard and your position will be advanced. But don’t short-circuit the process.