Small Church technology is one of the most challenging vertical segments. When you are a small church, you don’t have the luxury to use tech frivolously. Every dollar counts, and there are not enough dollars to be indulgent with, like for fancy equipment racks and cable management systems. Unfortunately, it is far too easy to let things fall into a state resembling the world of the Hughes brother’s Book of Eli. For those of you a little longer in the tooth, think Mad Max. It’s a challenge, but there are some things we can do to avoid the tangled mats of wire, electrical tape wads, and piles of mangled gear.
- Trash it. Or, give it away. There really is no reason to keep that length of XLR cable that you cut the ends from two years ago. You’re never gonna to need that old DVD player that’s sitting under the sound booth. Throw it away if it’s broken, or give it away if it works. GoodWill stores love used electronics.
- Stow it. Sometimes, we drag things out of it’s hiding place to use temporarily. These “things” can be tools, or even specialized equipment that we only use once in a while. Put it back where it belongs. Just because you used it today does not erase the 99% of the time that it isn’t used. Why leave it out?
- Bind it. 99% of the cables we use are never going to move. Bind it up with zip ties. They are cheap and easy to use, and bring an order of magnitude of organization to your cables. Sure the occasional special event may require some cable shifting, but another cool thing about cable ties is that they are easy to remove with a quick snip with a wire cutter. Oh, and once your event is over, bind it all up again.
- Conceal it. It’s amazing how organized something looks by the simple addition of a table skirt or storage bin. Table skirts are cheap, like $6, have an adhesive strip for installation, and seriously reduce the look of clutter by hiding all the wires and gear from the rest of the world. Storage bins are awesome these days. Many of them are modular and “stackable” – and also pretty inexpensive.
- File it. Every sound booth needs a circular file, aka waste basket, aka garbage can. Before you think I am repeating item #1, I’m not. Item #1 is about all that junk we hang onto thinking we’ll use it one day. What I am talking about here, in item #5, is trash – you know, like the packaging material that you just took those AA batteries out of, the ink pen that stopped working last month, the order of service from last year’s Easter service, or that empty gum wrapper, or that gum wrapper with used gum in it! I’ve seen so many sound booths that are mired in plain ol’ everyday trash. File it in the circular file.
I hope this list has you thinking about ways to keep your small church technology world in a presentable and manageable state.While we may not have a lot of money for the best gear and gear racks, keeping things tidy is pretty close to free. Now, excuse me while I attend to my church’s Book of Eli world.
Got any tips to share? Please tell us how you keep it all organized!