Do You Have a Case of Big Church Envy?

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Prepare to be uncomfortable.  You have fallen prey to Big Church Envy.  You know who you are and what I’m talking about and you’re starting to squirm in your seat.

Just because a church the size of Willow Creek or Saddleback has a fantastic mondo sound, video, and lighting system doesn’t justify YOU spending that kind of money on equipment. These Big Churches are a different breed and can set the bar for the rest of us. That doesn’t mean we should copy them.

The Symptoms

It’s fun to drool over a Big Church’s latest $50,000 digital mixer or $100,000 lighting setup.   Many small church techs crave the fancy equipment.  Yes, it can make the tech’s life easier. Does it make the service sound better or look better?  Maybe.

Even if your church had that budget, do you feel it’s the best way to spend God’s resources? I humbly suggest small churches focus more on what can be done for the lowest cost that provides the most value instead of spending more money on fancier equipment.

A properly trained, very competent technical person can make a mediocre system sound better than a fancy system in the hands of an ill-equipped technical person. The biggest bang for any technical dollars is training, training, training.  I’ve seen churches spend $100,000 in audio equipment but the tech crew’s don’t have the basic skills to properly EQ a channel.  Forget those volunteers ever using the whiz-bang effects built into their fancy state-of-the-art consoles.

The Cure

Be better stewards of God’s money by looking at what could be done with what you have instead of having the mindset of “if we only had this.”  Does a piece of gear’s coolness factor justify spending the money that could feed the homeless, send out missionaries, or help those less fortunate?

I’ve heard the argument from small churches wanting to upgrade to super high-end gear; “People are used to seeing all this fancy stuff at concerts and it helps reach the people.” I don’t buy that argument one bit. Yes, we need to stay current.  No one really thinks looking at overhead transparencies while they’re worshiping is a good thing (I know I don’t). But there’s a difference between what we WANT and what we really NEED.

Properly plan for the growth of the church over the next five years.  Exercise proper stewardship by asking, “Do we really need this or is this a nice to have.” If it doesn’t help convey the vision of the church then do you really need it?

The Challenge

No matter the budget, I challenge you to discover ways to work with what you have.  You’ll be surprised at what your team can come up with if you don’t write yourself a blank check.

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Comments

  1. Cajundaddy says

    Amen brother! Thank you for this post.
    I belong to a mega-church. When I started going there 9 years ago it was 3500 and now its 18.5K membership… whew! We have experienced a lot of growing pains and we are still growing with a new sanctuary in the works. I am thankful that this is a very servant-oriented place of worship and 1/2 of all our tithings go back out to both local community and international support. A common question that comes up when planning new gear is “Do we really need this now? How many could we feed instead? Are we pure in our desire to reach the community and congregation.” There have been a few missteps along the way as expected but I am pleased that my tech brothers get it. It’s not about the shiny new gear but simply reaching and touching hearts.

  2. Yyding says

    As the tech lead for a minuscule (30 odd) church, this site and your book have been invaluable. I tried a video site but I’m a reader and this works better for me. I too appreciate the recent articles focused on smaller churches. With that said, all the articles do help, even if they need to be read with a filter to suit my own church. You can’t really cater specifically to every person/church.

  3. Mark Parris says

    Hi Chris, Loved this article and the related links. If I were sum up in two words what I see our church suffers from the most, it’s training and stewardship (from top to bottom). We are blessed with the gear we have, it just needs to be treated with respect and understanding of its capabilities (and importantly its limitations).

  4. says

    Being in a small church (approx 100 people) – which is far more prevalent in here France where even the “mega-churches” are smaller – but with full worship bands and no tech budget and only amateur part-time technicians (myself included – the leader!) means that your excellent email and web site often has valuable input for a time in our future! ;c) Only a fraction of the stuff corresponds with our situation right now. So let me say a big THANKS for this most recent focus on “small situations.” Now, if only all this good stuff (including your guide) would be miraculously translated into French (you know – sort of a “Water into Wine” kind of translation event!)

  5. Nick Hampton says

    Great post. We are a church of 300-350 people and were very fortunate to upgrade our console and sound system 2 years ago. And we really needed to better our system then due to our needs changing and were very limited by the equipment and system we had in place since the church was built. Back then all we ran was some videos for our worship and a piano then of course the pastor, so it was all good. I am so glad for those moments because I had to learn a lot and challenge myself to a point of appreciating what we had. But when we upgraded…you couldn’t wipe that smile away from me!!

  6. Jeff says

    I came from the other direction. I went from a large church with a Digico SD10 and Meyer arrays to an 02r96 and Mackies with old (but good) Community subs. Everything works great and there is much less production stress. I am blessed in both settings.

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