5 Tips When Purchasing Gear for Your Church

Jimi Williams —  May 24, 2013

5 Tips When Purchasing Gear for Your Church

As worship leaders, many times the responsibility of purchasing sound and lighting equipment with the church budget falls upon us. Church music has become a major target audience for most gear manufacturers and is a growing market while other markets are shrinking.

Churches are becoming much more tech savvy and, in some cases, worship rooms rival the best music venues in the country.

As pastors and stewards of God’s resources, it is our responsibility to make “God inspired” decisions on spending church money. The following guidance might prove helpful when you get ready to make that next A/V purchase:

1. Do your research. Getting good advice is a huge part of making a smart purchase. Read information on-line. Visit other churches and see what they are using. A sound or lighting consultant is well worth the cost.

2. Make a positives/negatives list for each product. This makes it easier to compare products, especially complex products like a front of house mixer or a lighting package.

3. Target upper mid-line versus top of the line. There is diminishing return on products once they reach a certain price. For example, a Shure SM58 is a great mid-line mic for about $100 and most of your congregations would tell a big difference over a $29 mic. However, the average person could not tell the difference between the SM58 and a mic costing twice as much. There is a diminishing return.

There are some exceptions to this, especially churches that double as a concert venue or if the ministry is tech driven to achieve its ministry goals. But for most churches, you can waste a chunk of precious church funds on high-end gear that no one will appreciate other than your musicians and the person that sold it to you.

4. Leave room for growth. It doesn’t save money to buy a 16 channel mixer if you will need 24 channels within a couple of years. The cost difference to move up is usually way less than trying to re-sell and buy again.

5. Buy used when possible. There are really good deals out there on “experienced” gear. I especially recommend this for items that have a long life such as mics, lighting, amps, guitars, drums and rack gear.

Remember, to be as frugal as possible. Every dollar you save could be a real blessing to someone in your church that is sick or hurting financially. Blessings!

Jimi Williams

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Jimi is VP of Worship Resources for Capitol CMG Publishing, overseeing all Worship Together initiatives and resources. He also leads worship at his home church and at various events and conferences.

4 responses to 5 Tips When Purchasing Gear for Your Church

  1. Angela Graham June 3, 2013 at 5:18 pm

    Tip #6: please make sure you keep any professional you consult informed of your intentions and pay any bills promptly.
    I say this because my son-in-law is a sound and lighting consultant/technician, and he has been let down badly by some churches: some have ordered systems then at the last minute changed their minds, and some have taken months and months to pay him for equipment he has supplied, fitted, and trained them in the use of it. His charges are perhaps lower than they should be, as he understands the difficulties churches have with finances, but he has a young family and a mortgage, and life is a struggle. I do find these issues very disappointing sometimes!

  2. The fellow who does most of the purchasing at our church checks with the store to see what are the best selling items. This has helped in some decisions.
    If one is much more populate than others, there is likely a reason.

    • This can help when you just need gear that is good quality, but you probably wouldn’t want to rely on this in all cases. You may want to do a little more personal research when purchasing mixers, instruments, and gear that has a range of capabilities or will be used to solve a specific need. Like you said, going with popular gear choices can be a quick and effective way to make a decision and there is likely a reason it is the most popular.

  3. Include your sound team!!! They probably know more than you about both the gear any issues. They are the ones that will have to use many of the products week in and week out.
    Don’t necessarily trust the advice you get from sales people at the box stores!! They usually get a commission. They don’t have to listen to what gets put together. Find people who know their stuff and that have your church’s best interest in mind.