by Terry Wilhite
Last month I shared with you how important your presentation skills are in getting church members to support technology tools in your office and on the church campus. Often, however, the biggest hang-up in adopting technology concerns the pastor's communication with the finance or stewardship committee. For that reason, I want to give you some advice that, in my opinion, will help you.
First, our top job in leading the finance committee is to re-focus the discussion from technology and finance to the spiritual challenge that is at hand. The only reason we're talking about technology in ministry is because it will help us be better stewards of not just our treasury, but our time in reaching people for Christ. So question number one for the finance committee is: Does this tool help us to be more effective and efficient in bringing people to Jesus?
Secondly, we must remind our finance committee that we are at war. The war being waged in Iraq has similarities to historic battles, but the tools employed today are far more sophisticated than they were in the past. As I stated last month, it's my opinion that the Lord is unleashing technological tools at a record rate in order that we might reach every corner of the globe with the Good News. So question number two is: Are we willing to employ the latest tools to help us reach people at record speed?
Thirdly, our finance committee needs to be reminded that technology is a short-term investment. It is much different from buying new carpet or even replacing an air conditioner. The lifespan of software and computer equipment is about two years before obsolescence. Therefore, the options need to be thoroughly researched. So question number three is: Have we researched the best options and settled on the very best singular recommendation for the church's consideration?
Fourth, we've got to be willing to provide those who use the technology with the necessary training. Training is not an option! You will not be a good steward of your technology unless you invest in training. Question number four, then, is: Do we realize that we must budget for training?
Fifth, the finance committee and the church must realize that with all technology there is a learning curve. Training helps to lower the learning curve. But the only way to gain proficiency is with experience. It leads to the question: Are we willing to be patient in the short term until we get "up-to-speed"?
Sixth, whatever you decide to buy, a year from now the price will be half of what it is today and you'll get far better and faster features. Perhaps this is the biggest hang-up of all for church finance committees considering technology. Consequently, as pastor, you'll need to simply state this fact to the finance committee and to the church, when the proposal is up for consideration. Everyone must understand that we can't get hung up on second-guessing our past decisions or even wait until the price falls a year from now to adopt technology. We have to make the best decisions today to employ the right tools to reach people—because we are not promised next year, nor even tomorrow.
Seventh, the use of technology will only rise as high as the pastor's vision of reaching people for Christ and discipling believers. You and I have both heard, and we may have even said: "But we just don't have the money to buy this new-fangled stuff." It's my opinion that churches often lack financial resources for technology, not because church members have been disobedient in their giving, but because there has been absolutely no communicated vision of how to reach people for Christ.
In my own experiences over the years, I can't tell you how many times the money simply has not been there to purchase synthesizers, video projectors, projection screens, software, and computers. But when the pastor presented the "whys," the "hows" took care of themselves. The congregation got excited and jumped on board and the dollars were there to purchase the technology.
Let me remind you of a resource I've recommended before: Church Media Made Easy, a book by Tim Eason, that is, in my opinion, a must-read for pastors and finance committees who are considering the use of communications technology. You can order the book at www.churchmedia.net. Other resources are available at my Website, www.terrywilhite.com.