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Is Jesus the Next Killer App?

May 1, 2006 by

You know what they say: follow the money. And there’s lots of it coming from churches trying to match audio/video wits with MTV, concerts and TV. So the big guys have gotten involved. Here’s proof:

  • “Tech companies are getting religion. Companies such as Sony, Panasonic, Avid and Hitachi are helping churches spread the gospel as part of an effort to cash in on an exploding market known as ‘house of worship technology.’”
  • “An illustration of the market’s growing clout came this week at the National Association of Broadcasters 2006 electronic media conference. For the first time, NAB dedicated an exhibit area to tech and consumer electronics companies that are catering to churches.”
  • “The dollar value on Lakewood’s [Joel Osteen] video and production facilities is about $4 million, according to CIOinsight.com.”
  • “At Willow Creek Community Church in South Barrington, Ill., the technology budget is $1 million a year out of a total annual budget of $27 million, CIOinsight.com reported.”
  • “Churches have wanted to get their hands on this technology for years,” said Teagarden, managing director of Sharing His Light Productions. “In the past it was too expensive, but in the past few years, prices have dropped. This has allowed even small churches to go high tech.”

None of this should be news to anyone here. But the fact that large manufacturers smell money ironically means that more affordable equipment and training may become available for churches who haven’t been able to take the media dive.

Post By:

Mike Atkinson


Mike Atkinson has been in Internet marketing and strategy since 1995, with Youth Specialties and as a consultant, and serves as the webmaster at his church. Check out his site, blog, and article series on improving church web sites.
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10 Responses to “Is Jesus the Next Killer App?”

  • Brian White
    May 1, 2006

    As long as the message keeps ringing clear and is not “lost in translation” that Jesus is Lord… Bring on the gadgets!


  • Jeremy Scheller
    May 1, 2006

    now if I could just get a tech budget I’d be all set!
    Less than 1% of our budget goes to tech and that’s only after a little kicking and screaming…


  • Travis Seitler
    May 1, 2006

    Ironically, I loaded this post in my RSS reader after reading a completely different take on church/money issues. ;)


  • Paul
    May 1, 2006

    I’m usually riding the fence on this one between having an adequate marketing/tech/etc budget to produce good media, and what I feel are entirely lopsided church budgets as the above link (“completely differfent take”) proposes.
    And I usually end up in the latter half. I don’t know if 1/27th of Willow Creeks budget is excessive without more details, but when our old home church Lincoln was rumored to have spent 250k on stage lights I was not happy.
    Enuf of that ramble . . .


  • Jeremy Scheller
    May 1, 2006

    I think too often that funds are alocated outside of a strategic plan or a marketing strategy.
    A few years ago, we spent an unsane amount of money on a high-end CD duplicator. A little pre-purchase surveying and analyzing our demographic would have made the purchase questionable at best.
    Our demographic is nearly 2/3 of regular attenders fall between the ages of 19 and 29. Sermon CDs are a medium that is increasingly relegated to a slightly older generation (just advancing from Sermon tapes:)…
    Our demographic wants mp3′s, wants the podcast, as a result we sell about 5-7 cds a week and we have over 1000 subscribers to the podcast. hmmm….
    We should have thought that one through. We have to get really creative to recoup the cost on the CD burner in the next 5 years. What kind of technology could we have purchased had we strategically planned and forecasted to put the funds to better use.
    I could have contracted someone to make me a beautiful functioning website that could capitalize on our demographic using some of the web 2.0 apps recently discussed. I could have gotten another Mac in here so I could capitalize on all those college media/communications students who want to volunteer their time but don’t have a computer to work on…’
    Our display screen at our services is tragically small. Maybe an investment there would make our visitors hanging out in the back rows of the auditorium able to see the screen and participate in worship…
    I hope costs come down significantly on some worship tech products because it could really make some things accessible for me…


  • RC of strangeculture
    May 1, 2006

    That’s very interesting and makes a lot of sense…
    I think that because of that, it will quicken the mov’t of people pulling away from the big church enviornment to seek authentic community b/c they may perceive that church, McDonald’s and Blockbuster seem to offer little distinction.
    –RC of strangeculture.blogspot.com


  • Gene Mason
    May 1, 2006

    Brilliant article on Travis’ link on what would happen if we were more servant-minded.
    I LOVE to use technology in ministry. But lately I have come to question in my own mind whether our technology really enables us to serve others more effectively, or simply broadcast our message more efficiently. I find many biblical references to servanthood, and think perhaps at times I get out of balance on the technology in to the detriment of truly meeting the grass-roots needs of those I am trying to reach with the gospel.
    So when I hear of companies now beginning to vigorously pursue ministry dollars for technology, I take it with a grain of salt. Maybe our eyes have gotten a little to attached to the blinking lights.
    What if all of us pursued simple, personal servanthood with respect to others as much as we pursue the branding, marketing and distribution of servant-mindedness? I’m indicting myself here, I think…


  • emergingBlurb
    May 1, 2006

    The article mentions that “media helps make it easier for people to pay attention” …. true, but my continuing beef is that this is not real church. It has become a concert, a conference and an event. So if we were approaching the whole thing as a concert, a conference or a Christian event, then the media approach contains validity, but… this ain’t church…it has replaced church. Dialogue had been replaced with monologue….this is not an interactive community but co-ordinated corporateness, …this is not a functioning body since ‘ministries’ have been subcontracted to the few so that the individual has no other function other than to follow a programed event.
    A fun and maybe inspiring event, but its not church. Let’s still have the ‘event’ but let it not be the climax of the Christians weekly calandar, let real church and engagement reclaim its function.
    http://emergingblurb.blogspot.com/2006/01/church-reduced-to-event.html#comments


  • kevin
    May 2, 2006

    I have a hard time believing that the Sunday morning service, with or without technology, is where real community happens in the church. I’ve always found that I can attend the worship service all I want, but if I don’t get involved in other ministries, I won’t really be a part of the community.
    I think that aspect has little or nothing to do with how much technology is used in the service.


  • Dave Miller
    May 2, 2006

    I read frequently at this site and had to respond.
    Great inputs (no pun intended) from everyone.
    One thing to keep in mind is the old saying “just because you CAN doesn’t mean you SHOULD”
    How many of us have entered a sanctuary/gymnatorium/multi purpose room or auditorium in recent years to encounter God only to encounter blinding moving lights and hyper-active video backgrounds? Worship leaders & techs everywhere should be asking themselves the question: Are we speaking the language of the culture or are we as distracting as the local over hyped big box technology store?
    New technology is awesome and can, and should be used to enhance, not distract from, the experience of BOTH seekers and believers. (hmmm…I think that’s a run on sentence?)
    While I’m encouraged to see technology within reach of the smaller churches, I’m also eager to say to potential clients: don’t get so caught up in the TOOLS (digital consoles/moving lights/great video within reach) that the message (Gospel) and even the methods (using equipped volunteers for example) gets missed in the process.
    Great discussions….keep it up
    dave



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