[Guest Post: James Knight] It’s almost the end of the fiscal year in the States – and we all know who gets to do the church audio budget…
Here are a few pointers – hopefully they’ll be of some use.
1. Know your Church’s mission statement. As a consultant, whenever I undertake a new project I like to know clearly and concisely exactly what the Church wants to gain – after all, how can I possibly design a system if I don’t know its purpose? It’s pretty much the same for you – you need to know the vision of your elders/pastor and how they want the technology to support them before buying anything.
2. Don’t get carried away. I know there’s a temptation to buy gear that will give you ‘added extras’ – but do you really need them?
If your church needs a new console to replace the ol’ 16 channel analogue – don’t budget for a $15,000 digital mixer unless you really need it (or are going to in the next few years). If you’re running two channels of wireless, an acoustic, and a piano – probably not. If you’ve got a full praise band, multiple worship services per day and very little change-over time, then you probably do!
A colleague of mine was explaining to a customer about the perils of line arrays in certain rooms and how, despite their expense, they can indeed make the system sound worse – and it’s a similar situation here. If you demand a huge church audio budget for things you don’t need, then money gets shifted from other areas of the Church that do need the money – that’s when people start complaining.
3. Integrate. Yes, I know I work for an integrator – but I’m not just drumming up business – it’s important to realize the savings (and significant performance benefits) of having a totally integrated, full-scale system. Adding on components after an initial install is never as good as a well thought-out, deeply integrated system plan. Realize what your ministry is trying to achieve, and buy tools which support the Church’s vision now, and in the future.
4. Send some emails. Most people reading this will be over in the US – so I’m definitely not drumming up business here! If you think you need advice, let someone know – find a qualified person to give you help. Ask some friends who are techs or worship pastors, read magazines like TFWM or take a peek at resources like ProSoundWeb. I’ll happily give you some free advice and even refer you to one of our US partners if you ask.
5. Get some quotes. Check with your local audio-visual integrator or supplier what the retail price is for equipment. Ask them to include taxes and shipping – these can sometimes add up to a quarter of the gear’s RRP if you’re not careful. Budget for help if you need it – also don’t forget that many suppliers offer discounts for quantity purchases.
6. Get your screwdriver out. Budget for servicing – if you don’t service, you’ll just have to buy new stuff a lot quicker. Also, go and check things like speaker cones – do they need replacing? If you’ve got a large-frame mixer – does it need to be cleaned? If so, book it in the service centre, or get your gloves out.
7. “If it’s God’s will, then it’s God’s bill” was a phrase I heard a few years ago at a Church Tech conference. If the Lord has directed you to do something, then He will make provisions to see it accomplished. When you do a good job of the preparations, you can trust him to bring the funds that will see your vision realized.
Writing a church audio budget is a difficult task but not an impossible one. Using these seven tips, you can provide a solid budget that best represents the church audio needs while respecting the funds God has provided.
Question: What’s your biggest challenge when buying new equipment?
James Knight is Church Relations Manager for London based audio-visual integrator Hans-Kolberg UK and is keen to forge relations across the globe.