Fighting Big-Church Envy

Prepare to be uncomfortable. You have fallen prey to Big-Church Envy. You know who you are and what I’m talking about, and you’re starting to squirm in your seat.

Just because a church the size of Willow Creek or Saddleback has a fantastic mondo sound, video and lighting system doesn’t justify YOU spending that kind of money on equipment. These Big Churches are a different breed and can set the bar for the rest of us. That doesn’t mean we should copy them.

The Symptoms

It’s fun to drool over a Big Church’s latest $50,000 digital mixer or $100,000 lighting setup. Many small church techs crave the fancy equipment. Yes, it can make the tech’s life easier. Does it make the service sound better or look better? Maybe.

Even if your church had that budget, do you feel it’s the best way to spend God’s resources? I humbly suggest small churches focus more on what can be done for the lowest cost that provides the most value instead of spending more money on fancier equipment.

A properly trained, very competent technical person can make a mediocre system sound better than a fancy system in the hands of an ill-equipped technical person. The biggest bang for any technical dollars is training, training, training. I’ve seen churches spend $100,000 in audio equipment, but the tech crews don’t have the basic skills to properly EQ a channel. Forget those volunteers ever using the whiz-bang effects built into their fancy state-of-the-art consoles.

The Cure

Be better stewards of God’s money by looking at what could be done with what you have instead of having the mindset of “if we only had this.” Does a piece of gear’s coolness factor justify spending the money that could feed the homeless, send out missionaries or help those less fortunate?

I’ve heard the argument from small churches wanting to upgrade to super high-end gear: “People are used to seeing all this fancy stuff at concerts and it helps reach the people.” I don’t buy that argument one bit. Yes, we need to stay current. No one really thinks looking at overhead transparencies while they’re worshiping is a good thing (I know I don’t). But there’s a difference between what we WANT and what we really NEED.

Properly plan for the growth of the church over the next five years. Exercise proper stewardship by asking, “Do we really need this, or is this a nice thing to have?” If it doesn’t help convey the vision of the church, then do you really need it?

The Challenge

No matter the budget, I challenge you to discover ways to work with what you have. You’ll be surprised at what your team can come up with if you don’t write yourself a blank check.