Whether you have a small church with a sole pastor or a large church with a school and child care, you have a tech department. Sometimes it's a volunteer. Often, it's one of the staff members. Even if you have one person dedicated to maintaining all of the technology, you could still use a little help. That's what we like to do at Luthernet, so let's get to helping.
We won't get into much about the website in this article, since most of the content on Luthernet.org discusses the website. The easiest way to handle it is to get a decent website created for you so you can concentrate on content. One paragraph a week on a system that's easy for you. Weebly, WordPress, WIX, or whatever. Hire us if you want the ease of use and a custom design, but the content is up to you. After you finish this article, go and write one of your own.
We can wholeheartedly recommend getting Chromebooks and using Google Drive for most of your staff and students. Chromebooks work, and they are inexpensive. The only flaw is a flexible screen, so if you don't want to be replacing screens, and you want to use your computer as a white board, then get a Cranium Hard Screen Protector/Whiteboard. It's a hard case cover that will cover you in case the Chromebook gets roughed up a bit. Go right to the manufacturer and mention the code "FALLS" if you need some for a Samsung, Acer, Dell, or any other kind of Chromebook. (The Amazon link is just for the Acer 720/740.) Yes, someone on your staff might need Office, but if you transition most people to Google Drive, you will see how well it works. Compare it to the iPearl case here.
The best advice is to make backups and use what's free, plus do it fast. There is no point in recording your sermons if they are going to sit on someone's computer for a year before being posted. Then just record the sermon and upload it to Youtube or Vimeo. Your photos can go on Flickr, Google Drive, or even One Drive and get embedded on your website. Right away. If you want it all indexed and searchable, we recommend uploading at least some images to the website (small files) so you can tag them, and we also recommend publishing articles that link out to your videos rather than just sending folks to the Youtube channel, but the key is to move fast with your media files, since people want to see current photos and videos when they are current.
One of the biggest wastes in technology is the throw-away mentality many organizations have, thinking that newer is always better. I just took my nearly dead Dell running Windows XP and turned it into something usable by installing a stripped-down Linux OS. You can even make some of the old laptops into Chromebooks, capable of trudging on for years to come. Before you throw anything away, consider another use for it. Older TVs can be used as monitors for your video equipment, and older video equipment can be used for recording events at church, or maybe even as makeshift video surveillance systems. It's fun to try to figure it out, and you more than likely have a church member who wants to MacGyver your old gear.
Knowing When Enough is Enough
The most challenging aspect of technology is knowing when to quit. Can you honestly update Facebook, Twitter, and Youtube daily? Plus send a newsletter, and create a bulletin? Could you possibly streamline it into a website? Yes, and you should, since the goal is to get people to your church, not to follow you online. Whatever technology you choose to use should be with the intention of providing the best opportunity to retain church members. That means a website that directs people to what you do and why they need to show up, but it also means avoiding too much time spent editing videos or squabbling about where to put the projector screens. Working mics are very important, but so many churches have issues getting that right, even if they provide fancy PowerPoints, daily email newsletters, and cool Twitter updates. Remember that the whole point of most technology is to make life easier and better. That's how we see it at Luthernet, and we hope you can figure out what works best at your church.