July 7, 2014


Worship Pastors walk a fine line between the world of the artist and the world of church finances and politics.  Like it or not, we need tools to do the job entrusted to us. And like it or not, equipment costs money. Sometimes lots of money. Like the old joke goes, a musician is a person who will take $5000 of equipment in a $500 car 50 miles to make $5 an hour at a gig. 

It can get old after a while, believe me.

When evaluating our equipment needs, we must strike a balance between quality and affordability. We generally shouldn't buy the top-of-the-market-all-the-bells-and-whistles-gizmo-shinyness we really wanted because our churches - most non-profits in general - usually don’t have the budget for that. But buying the right tool - one of quality that will do its job well and last - is usually better then buying the less-expensive-but-of-substandard-quality alternative that will break in a few years leaving us to buy it again (thus driving the cumulative cost of said item UP, not down). As an aside, this is why I own a mac: my laptop is going on 5 years and cost the same as each of my last two windows-based platforms; less if you count the cost of software upgrades.

If it were only about our preferences of gear, this might be less complicated. When push comes to shove, we can work with the cheaper stuff if we have to; in some organizations, we’ll have no other choice. It won't be great, and it shows a church's priorities, but we can make do. Everyone likes working with the best there is, but good artists work with what they have - creativity comes inside boundaries, not from a lack of them.

This isn't just about us though.

This is really about setting up our volunteers for success. As pastors - leaders - our job is to equip and empower those in our care for works of ministry (see Eph. 4); providing good equipment is an act of advocating for those we serve. By providing good tools to work with - tools in good condition that will do what they're meant to without excessive tweaking - the volunteers will grow confidence as they succeed.

For for a long time, I had pitch problems in my singing that I thought were my fault. But it turns out that my mic stand was constantly drifting down, no matter what I did to clamp it tight. A mic stand that's too low will drop a singers throat, which clamps down on air, which messes with pitch. My singing had been sabotaged and I had no idea until someone pointed it out to me.

If your equipment is causing you to fail but you think it's you, you'll quit and the church will be the less for it.

We need to be able to give our volunteers the ability to succeed by giving them good tools to work with. Worship teams will be much more confident when they know they have the tools to sound their best. Confidence will cause more success, which will build more confidence, and so on. This is the positive cycle that reasonable financial investment can provide. Better equipment shows your musicians that you care about their art, and thus that you care about them.

When a church is generous to its artists, they will lead better.

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