As a church tech, solving technical issues can definitely be a challenge. But what can be even more difficult at times is trying to get others (especially our leaders) on board with bigger-picture technology changes, especially if it requires substantial finances.

How do we handle those situations? I know we all want to be good stewards and make our current gear last as long as possible, but there is always a limit to how far the MacGyver paperclip-and-duct-tape approach can get us. And if we’re spending additional energy (either mental or physical) maintaining a stressful Band-aid system, then we really aren’t being very efficient or stewarding our time as well as we should.

So how can we make sure we’re doing our part to help our leaders understand the importance of investing in the right types of technology infrastructure? Here are three quick things to keep in mind:

1. Have a plan.

I was reading recently in the book of Nehemiah, where the author told the King about his desire to return to Jerusalem to help rebuild the city’s wall. When the King pressed him further about what he wanted, Nehemiah was immediately able to answer with a detailed plan of what he wanted to do, what help he needed, and what he hoped to accomplish.

As tech leaders, we need to be able to emulate Nehemiah’s approach. It’s one thing to campaign for equipment upgrades. It’s something else entirely to already have a plan formulated that can help address any questions our leaders may have.

Have I thought through the full cost, not just of the big items, but also of any necessary, ancillary items like accessories, connectors/converters, cables, etc.? Nothing is worse for a leader than to be presented with a budget, only to have someone come back and ask for more money because they forgot about a detail.

Have I mapped out the timeline, especially knowing that there may be issues with timely delivery due to supply chain shortages? How will the labor be addressed, and how long will that take? Does a third party (like a licensed, insured rigger or electrician) need to be involved?

How will the install or upgrade affect our existing workflow and event schedule? Will we have limited features or restricted access to our current system for a certain number of days while old parts are being replaced with new ones?

What about training and after-install (or -purchase) support and troubleshooting? Warranty coverage? Back-up plans if something doesn’t go as planned?

If I demonstrate that I have a well-planned process mapped out, it becomes much easier for my leaders to get on board with my proposal. It allows me to gain credibility and buy-in, and it leads to a level of trust being established because I’ve shown that I can handle the details and address potential concerns in advance.

2. Determine the long-term COO and ROI.

If you’re not familiar, these acronyms are important to note anytime equipment upgrades are necessary, because very rarely is an expense just a one-time thing. It often has an impact far beyond the date of the actual install itself.

Here’s a scenario. I’ve got a proposal to move away from conventional theatrical lighting fixtures and replace them with LED fixtures. I shouldn’t just say that it’s a flat $15,000 expense, for instance.

I need to be able to map out the cost of ownership (COO) for my current situation and the future one, and then be able to show a potential timeline for the return on my investment (ROI).

With the conventional fixtures, we might spend a certain amount of money every year on replacement lamps, gels, lift rentals (to be able to access the lights above the seating area), and a certain amount of time (I can probably extrapolate a ballpark hourly rate for whoever does the work). All of those items factor together as part of my current cost of ownership.

Moving to an LED lighting system removes nearly all of those things. So I’m not just making a bulk purchase of however many thousands of dollars. At the same time, I’m also saving a certain amount of money on maintenance and upkeep, and I can use that number to show how long it will take before we break even on our investment. And on something like this, where I would also be drastically reducing the amount of power required and head load disseminated, I may also be able to show how the church’s utility bills would be impacted as well.

The big idea is that almost nothing is a one-time financial line item as a purchase. It will cost me money to own and use that thing, or it will save me money versus another alternative. But I also need to communicate what the potential lifespan is of my item. Will our board or leadership need to address a purchase like this again in 5 years? 10? I should be able to communicate those things ahead of time as well.

3. Use their language.

Our ministry’s leadership probably isn’t super tech-savvy. When I try to explain the need for an upgrade, living in industry language likely doesn’t help them understand the need at all. Is a deacon board of older businessmen really going to latch on to why a Dante infrastructure will be better for the team as we move more into an AVoiP, IoT workflow?

Um, no.

Most of our leadership will understand things distilled down into two key funnels: financial impact and ministry impact. How much will it cost (or save), and how will it help us be more efficient at reaching and impacting people?

This is where I have to be able to drop my tech jargon and lean into their world. Keep it simple: the gear is cheaper to own and use long-term, it removes distractions that could impact people’s worship experiences, and because it’s more efficient, it will allow us to have a smaller team involved to run it during services.

Those are the types of things that will help get non-technical people on board. It might be a massive technological win, but if I can’t easily sell my leaders on the why and the how, then it really doesn’t matter.

Making big investments in technology systems is a natural step for a ministry that expects to continue growing over time. Congregations grow and so does vision, so it’s natural that the tools used to support those things also grow.

But if I’m not able to effectively communicate all of the necessary details, then I may be stuck in a place of frustration in more ways than one.

Looking for more learning on gear upgrades and working through those with your team? Check out our digital resources! Digital Resources from FILO 2023 are now available!

Picture of Justin Firesheets

Justin Firesheets

Justin Firesheets has been on staff at Church of the Highlands since early 2009. For his first 12 years on the team, Firesheets served as the Production Director, overseeing all of the events, teams, and Production infrastructure for more than 20 Highlands locations, including the broadcast campus in Birmingham, Ala. In early 2021, he shifted into a new Project Manager role, working with the IT and Technology Services teams to oversee the network technology components of construction projects and capital infrastructure initiatives for the church and Highlands College, the ministry school Highlands founded that now has around 1,000 students. He enjoys training and investing in ministry leaders from across the world and enjoys sharing his experiences through online articles, public speaking, and on-site coaching.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Join the Community

Subscribe and never miss a thing

MAY 6-7, 2025