Small churches tend to be on the more conservative side and as such, there can be those with the perspective that having “good tech” is about being flashy and drawing attention to itself rather than directing attention to God.
While there has been quite a bit of discussion around this idea of whether we go to church to be entertained or to worship, I will let others engage in that conversation. I would rather talk about why having good quality tech is not vanity.
Good tech should be transparent
The primary function of a tech department is to supplement the worship service, adding what is needed to better facilitate what happens during the service. Amplifying sound clearly, projecting lyrics and slides to support worship and the message, providing focus with lighting to direct attention and ensuring quality sound and clear imagery to a live stream audience so they feel like an extension of those worshipping locally.
How often have you sat through a service that is wrought with feedback and up-cut microphones? How about trying to read lyrics or slides on a washed out projector image? Trying to see the face of a pastor who is either too brightly lit or not lit at all? Live streams with poor lighting, bad audio and/or bad connections between the church and the streaming host are terrible.
There is a balance that is right for your church and its tech team; the hard part can be trying to find that balance. Quality church tech is not about meeting some national standard or trying to keep up with other churches; it’s about providing the right amount of support for your particular situation that appropriately amplifies and supplements your service. It’s not gaudy and flashy; worship is not about entertainment. Sure, there are churches that use that style in their services, but theirs is likely a church culture that draws people to the Lord using their technology in that way.
Vanity is defined as the excessive pride in or admiration of one’s own appearance or achievements. I would summarize by saying that when you work in church tech, the focus must be on God and the worship service and how best to support that. I have no problem with taking pride in doing a good job; making sure to hit a particularly tricky set of cues seamlessly or even something small like anticipating a mic being used and making sure it’s un-muted and ready for use at the right time.
These are healthy things to take pride in. However, remember the definition-excessive pride. If your focus turns away from God and the service and to how amazing you are and how you are the most amazing church tech ever, beware. We are servants to God, ultimately, and we, as techs, are in a service position. Humility is a sign of a wise person.
Most small churches have one or two people running their AV systems and are more likely just happy the equipment still functions rather than worrying about being prideful and vain. A question to ask in your church, regardless of size: is there anything in our church that has become an idol or takes attention away from God? If one area of the church is suffering so another can prosper, I would submit that something is very, very wrong.
After all, if we’re being honest, church tech is not the only area in a church where pride and vanity can rear their ugly heads and a healthy church is one that can be honest with itself.