by Terry Wilhite
Adoption of new technology in ministry is one of the most critical issues for pastors today, in my opinion, because a brand new storehouse of technological resources has been made available, ranging from Internet-based tools to computer software. While many of these tools have in fact "secular" uses, I believe the Lord is unleashing digital resources at a record rate, that will help get the gospel to every corner of the world.
It is vital that we as Christian leaders employ them. Pastors must take the lead role in investigating these resources, help committees understand their usefulness to ministry and assist the committee chairman in making a clear, persuasive presentation prior to the church's vote. As an observer of church business meetings for more than 30 years, let me share with you what I believe must always happen for technology proposals to be successful.
First, at the start of every such presentation, our ministry goal of reaching people for Christ and developing believers must be firmly re-established in the hearts and minds of our audience. The primary focus of our spiel should never be the technology, but on the solution it offers us in reaching and changing people.
Secondly, we must continually remind our members of the urgency of our mission. We are not assured when our Master will return. We have to explain to our members that if a tool exists that helps us to be more efficient and effective in helping us reach people for Christ and develop believers, it deserves our utmost consideration. Time is ticking.
Thirdly, the device up for consideration must not be presented as technology, but as a "bridge" to get us from where we are now with our ministry efforts to where we need to be. In explaining technology solutions, employ metaphors and stories liberally so that your hearers understand, not the technology, but the solution it provides. Forget about explaining how it works. After all, can you explain how electricity works?
Fourth, choose the presenter carefully. In fact, it may need to be you, the pastor. However, if it is not, make sure the presenter is credible. A presenter's credibility may be severely lacking, not because of the proposal at hand, but because some past recommendation he or she has made hasn't panned out. The presenter doesn't necessarily have to be technology savvy, just be solution-oriented.
Fifth, research the likely questions long before the formal presentation. Personally, as a committee chairman, I have gone to "known dissenters" in the church before my presentation and although they didn't realize it, I gave them the "Reader's Digest" version of my presentation. Often just asking these resisters their opinion will break down an opposition barrier. But without question, their advice and even objections are extremely valuable in crafting a presentation. In fact, addressing these resistance questions in a positive manner during the presentation, before they come up at the end, is always a good idea.
Sixth, cover the "how are we going to pay for it" angle before it is asked! Too many church business presentations hang up with unanswered questions about money. The bottom line is this: Funding technology that will help us do multiple times the work in the same amount of time is good stewardship. The key is to deal with this issue before a presentation is made. If the source of the funds can be worked out with the budget or finance committee before the presentation, by all means do so, and tell how it has been worked out during the presentation.
Seventh, have your technology presenter practice, practice, practice. Even the best research doesn't ensure a smooth, clear and persuasive presentation. As pastor and as the church's chief communicator, it's your job to help your presenter organize his thoughts and get members exited about a solution so that everyone "buys in" to the solution.
I have authored a new DVD, Technology Sense for the Church Finance Committee, that will help take some of this coaching burden off of you. See my Web site at www.terrywilhite.com for details.