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Small Budget Media Ministry Tips

By February 5, 2015 October 17th, 2016 No Comments
Small Budget Media Tips

David Kennedy posted a great question to our Visual Church Media Facebook Group. He asked, “what are indispensable tips or tricks that you wish every church knew?”

Here are some of the insightful comments from the community.

  • Take baby steps with the technology. Don’t try and out-sprint your volunteer capacity.
  • Scale is hard for smaller churches with little to no budgets. It’s easy to see the mega churches with lasers and flying monkeys and say “I want that.” Encouragement to be original and adapt to their context is good. Making the most with what you have. Camron Ware is a great example of this. He found some old used projectors and an old PC in the closet of his church and decided to project on walls to create beauty.
  • Empowering your church community. It’s amazing what people will do when rallied around a vision and given ownership. We can’t do it all on our own.
  • It is better to have something well-designed (and paid for) than a poor design from a well-meaning volunteer for free. Invest in training your volunteers in design (concepts if nothing else).
  • Learn to put functionality before artistry. If you can’t read it on the screen or hear it from the speakers, it doesn’t matter how good it looks or sounds.
  • Build a core team, get really good at what you are already doing, find a well qualified leader to steer the ship in the right direction, take risks, don’t be afraid to make mistakes, trust people with ownership, make well informed buying decisions and spend some real money (stop wasting time trying to do everything for free).
  • CHEAP equipment (a.k.a. economic) does not mean will last longer, but instead will create more problems and money waist down the line.
  • The tendency is to be so budget conscious that the long-term solution doesn’t even make the shortlist.
  • Thou shalt not covet the equipment in the latest catalog. Appreciate and be thankful for the tools you have to work with. Like making something from scratch or repairing something broken, establish what your goal is, then find the tools to help you reach it.
  • Trying to do too much with too little. If something can’t be done well, it’s better not to do it.
  • If you are going to design your own installations, ‘future think’. Prepare for new technology in the way you build today. Example, don’t pull VGA cable because that’s what your projector needs. Pull twisted pair and use baluns.
  • Give the team a good vision for why media is part of your worship. Then discover who has what skills or interests. Come up with a style guide and a road map for visual styles and execution. Get everyone comfortable with the kit you have and the sources you use.
  • Stress the importance of honoring copyright.
  • With respect to the physical side, equipment etc, get the infrastructure right first (cabling etc) and build up the kit gradually so you can buy the best you can one piece at a time. Our kit isn’t the best but we’re learning as we go and making the most of what we’ve got. Sometimes you can achieve the amazing with very little!
  • Don’t do anything unless you are prepared (budget and people-wise) to do it with excellence. Some things you just might not be ready for and that’s okay. Creatively find alternatives that you can do with excellence.
  • It pays to pay for the secretary to learn photoshop. If need be, find an old used version on Ebay and start slowly, but even the older versions have most of the basic stuff when creating bulletins and other church graphics.
  • Mistakes and errors are going to happen. Have grace with the team when it does. Use it as a learning experience not a tongue lashing session. This starts from the top down.
  • Cheap is cheap for a reason. You get what you pay for. Not expecting small Churches to have a big budget, but always, always buy the best you can afford, even if it means waiting and saving for something decent. Otherwise it’s false economy and may cost you more in the long run.
  • Concentrate on the things you will need and use every week, not the ‘wish list’ stuff. If your Church specializes in hospitality, build your requirements around the regular services and the number of hospitality events you mount each year, like Mothers Day, Fathers Day etc. If you specialize in music or theatrical items, concentrate on buying for that, but do so in a way that allows you to expand if you need to. For example, you can only afford eight lights right now, but you put on plays at Easter and Christmas, plus some other special events. I would suggest, buy your eight lights, then install the backbone such as three phase power, lighting bars around the stage and room, dimming and cabling etc, that will allow you to just hire in the extra lights whenever you mount these larger presentations. It will minimize your hire costs and maximize your capabilities, while allowing you to use the latest lighting technology rather than buying it and having it outdated within a year. The same goes for audio and projection.

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