To ensure your technology solution ends up in more churches, you simply must solve the one problem all churches have. And to do that, you’ll need to understand why, exactly, they’re having the problem in the first place.
It’s not that technology hasn’t been widely adopted, or that the exponential increase in performance coupled with the overall decrease in costs hasn’t allowed more churches to add in technology that was only for the largest and wealthiest congregations a scant decade ago. No, for all of the advancements that have been made and the rapid growth of technology within the house of worship market, the biggest swing-and-a-miss has been that manufacturers and systems integrators haven’t yet solved this single issue in every church.
The problem is hard to solve. The problem is even harder to understand. The problem, dear readers, is that until and unless you identify why churches are looking for technology to solve a non-technical problem, you’ll never build the right box or sell the right solution because gear can’t solve it.
What if the Problem Isn’t the Problem?
While all churches have struggled (or still struggle) with common issues such as poorly designed rooms, or acoustical challenges, or limited tech infrastructure, the common theme is that more technology cannot solve the problem that technology began. In the never-ending quest for the technology that makes everyone happy, no one is happy.
It’s ironic, but the very first step into technology is a step into a black hole for time, training, technology, and budget; it will never, ever be enough. And not because there isn’t a point where technology can’t meet the technological requirements (I think we’ve exceeded that point for most audio, video, and lighting technology), but because adding technology adds complexity to the human element.
Identifying the pain points of a church are correct, but being able to step back and ask ‘why are those pain points?’ is a part of the sales process few ever dare to tread. To really help churches use AVL technology well, the question must be raised so that the church can re-think their assessment that more technology will truly solve – once and for all – the problem they’re facing: the illusion created by post-production perfection.
Our Culture Demands Perfection
Any casual consumer of iTunes, television, or movies has heard and seen the very best production and post production known to man. The polished results of massive technology, talent, and time are, quite frankly, impossible to recreate in the live venues of local churches.
And yet, the advertisements still promise the possibilities of everything while the actual technology can only ever deliver under the laws of physics in live environments.
I once attended a church where every weekend, or, at least, every sermon series, was bigger and better. It was a glorious time to be video director when we went High Definition before more most network television affiliates did. We had, literally, the very best technology at our fingertips. I distinctly recall learning from the manufacturers rep that the broadcast switcher I was directing on was the exact same model as the one used in the NFL Super Bowl just weeks before. It was a bit surreal.
And then something happened: the line between bigger and better became thinner and harder. The paradox was that it was only possible to get bigger, better, or more and sustain it until the line becomes asymptote; that is, the point of diminishing returns smacked us right in the face.
Following this season, I looked back and wondered where things had gone wrong. The answer was that we were trying to solve the wrong problem. Technology couldn’t solve it, only we could.
Realize the Truth: There Is No Spoon
The blockbuster movie The Matrix, depicted a key point in which the main protagonist, Neo, realized how to beat the technological world in which people were unwittingly trapped. It happened when a young boy seemingly bent a metal spoon using only his mind. When Neo asked how this was possible, the young boy sagely and simply gave him the answer.
Spoon boy: Do not try and bend the spoon. That’s impossible. Instead, only try to realize the truth.
Neo: What truth?
Spoon boy: There is no spoon.
Neo: There is no spoon?
Spoon boy: Then you’ll see, that it is not the spoon that bends, it is only yourself.
The problem wasn’t the problem at all. The problem was that by understanding that it was not possible to do what was physically not possible, it forced Neo to re-evaluate why the issue existed in the first place. The answer was that his ability to perceive the problem affected his ability to solve the problem. And so it goes with churches and technology.
The problem is not insufficient or inadequate technology. Churches don’t need more of your tools unless and until they understand how to first address the problem they’re trying to solve. When they do, then and only then will certain applications of technology, in concert with how the church addresses the problem, be wise purchases.
Will you help churches redefine the problem they’re trying to solve so that when it is identified, your technology can help them approach the solution differently?
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