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When Your AVL Dreams Come True
By: Dave Kalahar

That day finally arrives. Your pastor and committee members have decided to update, remodel or build a new worship facility for your church. You’ve been dreaming of this day and all of the technology it brings. Yes, your dreams are about to come true. Or are they?

Every tech person or media minister faces old technology, worn-out and/or obsolete equipment that can often make doing your job harder than it needs to be. Sometimes you outgrow the current worship space. After a while, your pastor will have heard the complaints from you and the congregation long enough.

Your dreams will come true but at a cost. As the media person at your church, be prepared to tap into your leadership ability. In fact, the experience will require great leadership, wisdom and huge patience. Because the needs of media in a project of any scope will require a budget, be ready to skillfully explain needs and requirements to your pastor or building committee. Remember, your pastor has a much different vision for a project like this. A team at your church led by the pastor will be focusing on how to raise the funds.

As for the technology, don’t do this on your own. Make sure your church looks at audio-video-lighting (AVL) consultants with experience and an ability to work with a project architect. You may choose to go with a “design-to-build” firm that has experience in the church market and a strong A-V-L team. Get a solid company and build a relationship with the consultant right away. Budget travel funds and go visit projects these firms have done for clients in similar circumstances as your own church. Do your homework. It’s a long-term, expensive relationship, and you better be dating them before the ring goes on a finger.

Some other things to consider:

1. Budget percentages for AVL will be higher than initial estimates. In the old days (2000), most church building or remodel projects budgeted about 5 percent of total cost to AVL. Today, that number is much higher and typically in the 15 to 20 percent range. My church is in the middle of a remodel, and the AVL is at 33 percent of the total cost. It will be your job as the media leader to make these needs clear early in the process.

2. Life is always full of compromises. You can’t have everything you want. As a media leader, you understand accountability. Sacrifice is always made congregationally to pay for projects like yours. Figure out what you must have to assure excellence for the immediate future. You might want to consider a hard investment in infrastructure. This will allow easier expansion over time with audio and lighting equipment. You may not need a top-of-the-line audio console.

3. Don’t equip the facility with equipment your volunteers can’t master. Keep them in mind when you design things. That goes for accessibility too. I have some fantastic camera operators who are in their 70s. They don’t need to climb a ladder to reach a camera platform, so we designed stairs in our plans.

4. Lead your team through the process. Keep it in balance. The amount of work involved for a project like this eats up huge amounts of time. You still have to do your day job…getting ready for Sunday.

5. Projects like this mean your congregation is growing. The enemy is not going to be thrilled at souls reached for Christ and lives strengthened. Be prepared for attack. It will come in ways you never saw coming. Put on your armor of faith. Lead your team through it and stand with your full staff. You will have victory.

Remodel and building projects are exciting high points in your service as a media person. Take plenty of photos and journal the experience. Your technical dreams will come true, and in time, you’ll look back and wonder how you pulled it off.

Dave Kalahar is media director at Valley Baptist in Bakersfield, California. This article is courtesy of Lifeway Christian Resources, www.lifeway.com.

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