In 2001, I was part of a church plant and shortly after starting to attend there I went to Willow Creek Community church for the Arts Conference. While there, I was on a bus going from Willow Creek’s campus to a satellite location for the technical arts breakout session.

I’d started talking to the guy sitting next to me. Even though I was only a couple of years into doing video for church, I’d already learned a lot.

He, on the other hand, had learned that his church couldn’t do what mine did. Why? They had more people with more resources and the same equipment.

church videoYou read that correctly. We had a projector, a DV camcorder, and an iMac. They had those things too. They also had a larger congregation and people who were more established in their careers who had larger incomes with which to finance ministry. He just didn’t see how they could do it.

Yet, there I sat next to him talking about the videos we’d made that his church (with fewer challenges) couldn’t. These challenges weren’t excuses to me. It was just the way it was. We’d have better equipment some day, but right now we chose to do the best we could with what we had.

When you do technical ministry, it’s easy to have excuses. What’s hard is to overcome them.

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Start with your assets.

To get past the challenge, look at what you’ve got, not what you need. Can you use the handheld microphone you have instead of the wireless lav you think you need? Can you borrow someone’s DSLR and shoot video with it instead of trying to find an ENG style camera? Can you use the software that came with your computer (iMovie or Windows Movie Maker) instead of buying Final Cut Pro or Premiere?

I really want you to see if you have the bare minimum of what you need. Don’t concentrate on what you don’t have, but on what you do and what you can borrow (that’s a legitimate path, too).

Take an Honest Assessment

We didn’t have a light kit. We didn’t have a microphone either. For some productions, these weren’t deal breakers. We did a lot of videos set to music. For one or two, I borrowed a light kit from my school or a microphone from the tech team.

We were blessed not to need a projector because back then they were very expensive. What we had was the bare minimum.

Make the Most of Opportunities to Show, not Tell, Legitimate Needs

Within a year of my trip, I had an opportunity to take my church one step into the future. We’d been connecting directly to the projector, using a hard switch and the projector’s “black” button to switch between sources.

One day, I got a call. The audio guy called me to tell me what he’d heard in the weekly production meeting that the weekend service entailed. The plan was to put a live feed on the screen of someone making pottery on stage and put lyrics over that video. I knew how to do it, but I also knew that we didn’t have a switcher and couldn’t borrow one easily.

I found out that this idea meant a lot to the people in charge, so I sprang into action, calling every rental house within 2 hours of our location. I got quotes and called our church back with what it would take.

After everything went well, I made sure to talk to the “money people” and tell them that the text on the video was why we needed a switcher (software couldn’t do it back then).

The next major renovation of the building got us two new projectors and a switcher.

The Next Level

Always look for opportunities to take your work to the next level, even if it’s just for a week. If your church’s leadership likes what they see (note: make sure you do everything you can so that they like what they see), money has a way of showing up.

Excuses or Challenges

The choice is yours. Will you let what you don’t have be an excuse or will it just be a challenge to be overcome?

What are some ways you could take your production to the next level in the next weeks or months? What are some challenges that you can’t see a way past?

[To win one of two free copies of Paul’s new ebook, Church Video School, leave a comment below and we’ll do a drawing on Wednesday.]