Knowing When Enough Is Enough

I once had a dearly loved truck that I called the “Night Creature.” I got it in used condition, and it showed. It was effectively leaking… well, everything; 3 cylinders were not firing; and every bearing, bushing, and other suspension component was just shot! My friends and I rebuilt every inch of the suspension, gave it 4 inches of lift, installed a custom exhaust system, big tires, a new audio system, custom roof rack, engine mods, and were able to keep it running for years. It was FUN to drive. But as Ministry Tech got busier, that truck just didn’t meet my needs any longer. I also no longer had the time to work on it myself, so I was spending tons of money taking it in before every major road trip to a church.

Before one such trip, I had just had it in the shop for major transmission and electrical work. But as I filled up the fuel tank in town before the trip, I heard this racket under the hood. I threw open the hood, and knew that sound was not good. It was deep inside the engine, and was only getting louder.

I got it home, parked it, and then sat there and pondered… contemplated… and prayed for wisdom to know what to do. A new engine was the answer, but it was clear, enough was enough.

Now some of you may be asking what this has to do with a tech blog… well, actually, a lot.  Many times churches service their technical gear or systems and keep servicing them and servicing them, and keep putting on duct tape “bandaid” over duct tape “bandaid.” After all no one sees it, so things just sort of limp along (sort of) when what is really needed is a big decision, one that requires much thought and prayer. In other words, someone needs to decide that enough is enough.

But how do decide when that time is? When do you stop and start over? And when you do, to what level do you go?  Here are some questions to help you see the forest for all the trees.

  1. Is the Word able to go forth consistently without distraction? Or are buzzes, pops, clicks, volume issues, distortion, etc. a regular occurrence?
  2. What is the congregation’s general opinion of the technical ministry? Does it seem to them that it’s constantly having issues? That things are regularly not working correctly? Are we having to frequently apologize for problems? Do people say, “Well, they try hard… bless their hearts”?
  3. Do you know what works and what does not?
  4. How old is the gear?
  5. What is an honest picture of your church’s financial situation?
  6. What needs are currently not being met?

Begin by honestly answering these questions, before you approach the church about, “We need X amount of dollars to work on our sound system.”  After you have answered these questions, then prayerfully and humbly set up a meeting with your pastor and those directly above you. Give them a written assessment of what you feel the needs are, and be ready to demonstrate to them how those needs affect the day to day operation of the church.

But what if you’re not sure how to answer some of those questions or what the needs are? Then call for help! That’s where an organization like Ministry Tech can come into play. Don’t rely on the opinion of some high school kid who plays in a band on the weekends and thinks he knows sound, or a church member who used to work for a radio station long ago, but get the expert opinion of an organization with of a good reputation and track record of success. Share your list of concerns and ask for recommendations.

So now what do you do with what you’ve found? Sometimes it is best to completely start over. It’s a big job that can be scary and daunting especially for a small ministry, but it’s like putting peroxide on a wound. It stings, but in the end the wound heals faster and more completely. Other times, maybe your wiring and infrastructure is in good shape, and all you need is a few key pieces of gear to really make things right. And maybe all that needs to happen is to get the equipment serviced, clean up the wiring, and apply a lot of good old-fashioned elbow grease.

One statement that I learned from a man who I used to work for years ago is key: “Do it once, do it right. In other words, if you don’t do it right the first time, you will be back to do it over!

If your ministry needs help determining if you’ve reached the “enough is enough” point, get in touch. We’d love to help you.

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