Church Communications resources and tips from Justin Dean

Making Magic with 8-bit Technology

I think Steve Jobs created little monsters in all of us when he coined the phrase ?one more thing?. It is the tech version of keeping up with the Joneses. We are constantly looking for new gear or exciting tech that is going to make life easier or better.

Budgets are strained in today?s economy and, unfortunately, most churches don?t have the budget for one more thing. Most of us have to make due with what we have; and to be honest, that is okay.

Most of the time technology is only 25% of the equation. The other 75% is how much time and effort you?re willing to put into a solution.

To make magic with your less-than-desirable technology (or perhaps even 8-bit technology), you have to ask yourself a few questions as you go along.

What is your goal?

As technical artists, our first goal should be to create a non-distracting atmosphere for people to come and experience God in a new and fresh way. Nothing says you need to have 36 moving lights, an LED wall, an Avid Venue Console with every WAVES plug-in available, and 8 staffers to make it all work.[quote]Our first goal should be to create a non-distracting atmosphere for people to come and experience God in a new and fresh way.[/quote]

Secondly, we should be creating this atmosphere as it aligns with the vision and mission of the church. If the pastor, or church governing body, has decided that upgrades or up-fits are not in the budget, we are to support them to the best of our ability with what we have.

Most technical experts are very opinionated and willing to share their opinion with everyone that will listen. What we tend to forget, though, is that our vision rarely goes beyond the world of worship technology. The people put in charge of the church are there for a reason. Even though they may not understand what we?re holding together with solder and gaff tape, they have a much broader vision of what is trying to be accomplished in the church. We are in a support role to that vision.

Do you have an overarching goal or vision for your team? I challenge you to write down your ministry?s vision statement. Under that, develop your own supporting statement, along with specific goals.

What technology can help support your goals?

One of my favorite things I?ve heard (in relation to having tons of technical problems on a weekend) is, ?The gospel was heard and no one died in the process.?

Doing something great doesn?t mean we have all of the toys, it means we get to help the gospel be communicated clearly. If our tech isn?t up to par with what we want accomplished, the best we can do is communicate our needs respectfully. After we communicate our needs, we make what we have work. If we don?t know how to do this, we should learn. Sometimes the best technology is learning proper technique.[quote]Sometimes the best technology is learning proper technique.[/quote]

What technology will take away from your goal?

As a tech guy, I am easily distracted by something that is done poorly. It shows up everywhere: watching church services, eating at a restaurant, or watching a movie. If in the first five minutes of a movie I?ve seen a bad green screen key or a poorly written script, I?ve already checked out and the suspension of disbelief has been broken.

We have to be careful that what we do doesn?t interrupt what?s communicated.[quote]We have to be careful that what we do doesn?t interrupt what?s communicated.[/quote]

Everyone is going nuts over digital. Digital is cool. There are endless possibilities with digital tech gear. It fits in smaller spaces, allows for endless creative potential, is expandable (in most cases), and is rapidly becoming affordable. What we don?t stop and think about is that it has a higher propensity to need some kind of reboot or time to reboot (think power flashes). Digital tech can be picky and temperamental. It can be confusing or difficult to set up and run. In short, digital can be as much distracting as it can be cool.

I?m going to go hipster here for a second and say that old school or analog might be better in some cases. Analog desks can sound much warmer than their digital counterparts; and when you talk about lighting, analog is much more organic feeling. Analog was there first. There is a reason many touring professionals still prefer it.

Use what you have and learn to use it well. Just make sure that at the end of the day, no one has died and the gospel was well communicated.

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