Small Church Technology

I’ve been a “techy” for as long as I can remember, always falling in love the latest gadgets. I realize that some of us are more apt to accept new technologies than other people, and in most church environments, incorporating newer things always seem to be a slower process. Many people are resistant to change as part of their personality. Even if a new “something” is of great value to the ministry, there can be a lot of reluctance surrounding it. This phenomenon is not limited to traditional church people. I’ve heard the stories of pastors called onto the carpet by church boards for replacing an acoustic drum kit with electronic kit.

Unfortunately, those of us involved in small church technology must minister in this environment, but because the relationships are in a smaller group, negative reactions can have a big impact. Because of that you have to be intentional and careful. But is “intentional” and “careful” bad things? No, in fact, they probably help us be better stewards of our ministry responsibilities and the connected relationships. We can’t afford to sacrifice relationships because we want to do something new, but we can’t stand still either. This tension is where we’re called to work.

To mitigate the potential damage our tech choices can make, we really have to be sure that we need to make a change. We also need a healthy understanding of the role of technology in our ministry. For small church technology, in addition to the relational consequences, there are other unique challenges to consider such as what implementing a technology will cost over time, and the effect a smaller budget has on the timetable for implementation. For instance, at my church, we are currently investing in a certain technology for our live services, but we’ve been trying to work through the equipment vendor to replace a faulty item because we can’t afford to just go get a new one and deal with the exchange later. So, implementation of this tech is at a stand still until that is resolved. That is a common scenario with small church technology.

With all that said, even with the challenges, the effort is worth it if technology progression makes sense for your ministry’s context and calling (1 Cor. 9:19-23). If a single person changes their mind about Jesus’ church being antiquated and therefore her message irrelevant, and that person comes to recognize Jesus as Savior and Lord, then all the frustrated hours turn into pure joy. But, we can never forget that not only are we called to show others the light, we are also called to sharpen one another. Let’s remember both “targets” as we push onward.

7 Replies to “Small Church Technology”

  1. Yes, as a drummer myself I fear the electronic kit as well. Currently I am being threatened by the plastic shield! LOL.

    Glad you’re speaking up about these things Herb. Reaching smaller churches with new technology is a challenge. Press on!

  2. We are a small church and deal with this all the time. We are implementing Matt’s MemberHub (http://www.memberhub.com), but have taken a very, very long time to do it. It can sometimes take a long time to get enough people’s implicit buy-in to effectively implement a new tech.

    It’s one of the reasons I don’t preach from an iPad in our church. Only a tiny percentage of people in my church can afford one. I don’t want to create a technology class system around the scripture. So, I use a paper Bible.

    I tend to follow the idea that there are 3 groups of people: early adopters, slow adopters, late adopters. I don’t introduce new tech until I have the early adopters and slow adopters on board. The late adopters won’t jump in until those two groups are in. if they ever jump in at all.

    I think most ministries don’t really think about these things and it hurts them. Great post.

    1. I am all about context, Ben. I love how you are sensitive to your folks and choose what is appropriate. That’s what we all need to be doing. While I have been blessed by a church of people who bring their iPads and laptops to service, my context and your context are different, and our approaches have to be sensitive to our situations. I remember when North Point church’s iPad Christmas music video went viral, there were a ton of people who, to my surprise, were very critical because they used these expensive devices. I think these criticisms were, by and large, due to forcing their church’s context onto another church – while the iPad thing may have been a disaster at their church, at North Point it was amazing. Thanks, Ben. Good stuff.

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