Technology is absolutely a gift to ministry. Whether it’s new HD projectors or a new LED light system, technology can be used to introduce people to Jesus Christ. I can remember the first time the little church I worked at started using an overhead projector – we felt like our little worship service was transformed! The feeling quickly left as we realized that we needed to type up lyrics to all our songs to put on overheads; what a task that was.
Despite its availability, church communities need to be aware of how to approach the use of technology and its impact on the church. Over years of ministry I have found three key elements of that must be kept in mind while adopting technology:
1. Remember technology is the tool and not the content of the Sunday teaching
Projectors and sound are great, but what moves hearts is a great prophetic and Biblically based sermon. Technology should aid the sermon, not overshadow it.
Early in my ministry I was like a slave to Powerpoint presentations. I was more concerned about how the presentations looked than I did the content of what I was teaching. I had to scale back the presentations and just use it for key Biblical texts or points. This gave me the freedom to focus on the sermon rather than what was on the screen.
2. The cost of technology isn’t a guarantee of the impact of technology
Just because you spend a lot of money doesn’t mean you’ll get big impact. The best way to approach purchasing is to first ask yourself what you want to accomplish with the technology and then spend money appropriately.
Our church wanted to install a new light rigging with spotlights, LEDs, and other special illumination. We spent the money (in the thousands) to get all these lights, installed them, and began to use them. Once we did, we realized that we hadn’t thought about the natural light coming through the windows; the natural light washed out all the new technology we bought. We spent a lot of money, but we didn’t see the impact until we solved other, much cheaper problems.
3. Only spend the amount that you can afford to replace
Like anything, technology breaks, wears out, or becomes outdated – or all three! If a projector is a big part of your ministry, you’ll need to have the resources to replace it right away. Don’t overbuy on your first piece of technology only to realize you can’t replace it later.
I bought a projector for our church with special funds that were donated to our church. The projector was top of the line with all the bells and whistles. Unfortunately a year later (conveniently right after the extended warranty ran out) a church member dropped the projector and broke it beyond repair. Since it was bought with money outside the budget there was no money to replace it within the budget. We had to scramble to replace it with a lesser product.
No leader should be scared of using technology, but they should approach its use in a smart and educated manner.