In part one, we introduced the three basic areas that need to be addressed under the umbrella of media ministry: the whys, whats and hows of multimedia in ministry. Part 1 covered the theoretical basis: why we use multimedia.
The second question—the what—is technical: “What questions need to be answered before we invest in equipment?” How big a screen do I need? How bright does the projector need to be? Are the windows in my sanctuary going to cause a problem?
There is no one formula that takes into account all the variables in every given church. There is no “One Size Fits All” solution, which is sometimes frustrating. We in the ministry must approach these questions like we approach counseling. Each individual is unique and requires a unique type of interaction. Although we may say the same things to many different people, we will say them in different ways, discerning the direction we need to follow. In the same way, each church is unique in its goals, needs and philosophy and should be treated as an individual when looking at implementing a multimedia ministry.
The best thing we can do here is clarify some of the questions that will arise. There are three categories:
1. Questions you as a church should ask of yourselves
2. Questions you should ask any company you are looking to for equipment
3. Questions that the equipment provider should ask you.
First ask yourself about the desires and goals of your ministry. What is it that we want to accomplish? Are we looking at putting song words on a screen, or are we planning to broadcast on TV or the internet? Will it be some of each? Will our budget allow us to install this system as one large package or do we need to act in stages? Who will run everything, and what kind of qualifications will the operators need to meet? What software will we use? Who will be responsible for building presentations and what kind of training are we going to provide for them?
The biggest question: will the church contract with a design/install company who will provide a “turnkey” solution, or will you install it yourselves? The complexity of the system will determine whether or not professional installation is required. The type of company is important too. There are many companies that work in audio, video and lighting. Many of them focus on businesses; churches are a side business. You are much better off securing the services of a reputable company that specializes in church accounts. The local church is unique in its needs, surroundings and requirements.
Of course, you’ll need to ask questions of that company. What kind of technical support is there after the sale? Is it available 24/7? What is the typical process for a technical support issue going to be? This can mean the difference between reaching people effectively and frantically trying to throw something together at the last minute. How long are the various warranties? Does the company guarantee that the entire system will work together? Do they have a return policy or trial period? Is there a restocking fee if we find that the projector is not bright enough and you want to upgrade it? Keep in mind the old saying, “The bitterness of poor quality lingers long after the sweetness of a cheap price has been forgotten.”
Finally, these are the questions they should ask you. What do you want to be able to accomplish? How will the equipment fit in your facilities? What are the lighting conditions? What are your future plans? If a company is trying to sell you equipment without asking these questions, RUN, don’t walk away. It is hard to buy a bad projector, but it is very easy to buy the wrong one for your application. If these questions are not asked and answered, it is likely that you and your congregation will be disappointed and unhappy with the end result.
Tue, July 6, 2010