“The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low cost is forgotten.”
- Benjamin Franklin
We all have struggled at one point or another, some more than others, with the dreaded reality that you have a need but you don’t have the money to purchase the equipment to fix the need correctly.
Let’s forget what the actual need is for a moment and focus on why the money is not available. Sometimes, it is because small churches struggle with having enough to pay the monthly bills without the added burden of new AV equipment. Other times, it is the upfront cost of the equipment that is needed can send people into shock.
I’m going to go out on a limb here and suggest that more often than not the reason our churches struggle to have the available funds is simply because tech is not made a priority. It is viewed as an expense line item on a balance sheet instead of the necessary and evangelistic tool that it can be when treated as such. This underlying mindset affects how people think about tech and thus the long-term value of quality audio/visual equipment is not weighed fairly against the up-front costs.
I cannot tell you how many times I have walked into a church, whether I am just visiting or I am doing a walk through for a client and it is plainly obvious that they have been more interested in saving money upfront than looking at long-term value. Hacked together systems with components that have questionable sources and manufacturers and the only common element is the word cheap.
Remember, good stewardship is not about how much money you save but rather how much money you don’t waste. Both mindsets ultimately aim to achieve the same goal but if you are solely focused on price, you will always look at the lowest cost option and ignore the value that a slightly higher priced item brings to the table.
By comparison, if you are focused on getting the most value for your money, price will only be one of the factors you consider. What additional benefits will a more expensive system or set of equipment provide? Are those benefits and/or features worth the extra cost? Talk to your pastor and/or tech team about the options, do your research to understand exactly what the differences in the equipment are so you can make an educated decision.
Get demos if you can, talk to others online about their experiences and realize that while some corners can be cut, in the end the old adage is still very true and very relevant: “You get what you pay for.” If you pay for garbage, you will get garbage.
You see, value is not only measured in what money is saved, but also in the benefits, ease of use, capabilities, flexibility and future-proofing are realized. These are all tangible results and should not be ignored. Of course, I must mention that upgrade proposals can also get quite large because consultants are trying to over-engineer a solution or a tech department is trying to get a new toy rather than a set of equipment to accomplish a particular goal. This is why establishing what the vision of the church is for the next 10 years and establishing how an equipment upgrade or new equipment will help the church achieve that vision.
Ultimately, it’s about spreading the good news of the love of Jesus Christ and that is something we can all agree is worth investing in.