While it is not a hard and fast rule, there are some members of the congregation that I would prefer to keep out of the decision making process, especially when it comes to making technology decisions. Although most people are well intentioned when it comes to wanting to make purchases for the church, not everyone in a decision making capacity at the church is qualified to make well thought out technology decisions for your church as they can sometimes skip important steps.
It is important to understand this first idea; Any person, group or committee within your Church can identify a need or issue in the church. However, that same person, group or committee is not necessarily in a position to effectively understand how technology may or may not be able to solve the need or issue that has been identified. At the very least, ensuring that any substantial investment in technology is reviewed by a trusted professional could help you make more prudent purchasing decisions. If you do not know what you are doing, impulse buying when it comes to technology is not usually a good thing. Consulting a professional is usually the best first step after identifying a need.
As an example, a team at a local Church identified the need to simply record “professional looking” videos of messages from their lead pastor. So within a very short period of time (the length of time of a team meeting) it was determined that there was a need and that they should go ahead and spend $1000 on a digital camera, based on the input of someone who said their husband had a digital camera that also captured video. Now $1200 may or may not be a large expenditure for your Church, but a few questions should have been asked before going ahead and purchasing the camera in question.
What are the requirements? In the case of this purchase, the team was wanting to produce “professional” looking videos, but no investigation was done to ensure the camera in question could provide professional results from both a video and sound perspective (other than someone’s husband who said he liked the camera), let alone knowing what other options might be available, and what might be required to produce the type of video they wanted to produce.
So what sort of questions should have been asked in this specific example:
- Do you know what type of video files did the camera produce?
- Is a DLSR camera with video capabilities the best choice of equipment for your application?
- How was audio captured (did it have audio connections that would allow for professional audio quality)?
- Do you know if a wireless microphone will be needed for the best sound quality, and is one audio source sufficient?
- Was there enough research done before making this purchase?
- Did you consider other groups/teams who might benefit from this purchase?
- Were there better choices available for the same amount of money, did you look at other options?
- Did the church have a resource available who can shoot and edit the raw footage to so that it looked professional?
- Do you have someone who wants to do this for your Church on a regular basis, or do you need to pay someone to do this for you?
- Did the Church have access to video editing software that can produce professional looking results (or would this be an added expense)?
- Was this the best time to purchase this equipment or could a better choice have been made if more time was taken?
- Was a professional person consulted in helping to make an informative purchasing decision for your congregation?
In the case of this specific purchase, the answer to all of the above question was “no”, and coincidentally the camera that was purchased was only used for two small projects before being put in a drawer for the next year. So while the need for the camera in question was indeed a good idea, it could have been a much more successful purchase for the Church had a professional been consulted in the decision making process, so that all these type of questions could have be considered.
Impulse purchases can indeed seem to make sense, but from the perspective of technology you are always best to consult with a professional before you make the investment!!!