The Importance of Technological Competency for Leaders

dj-865173_1280I’ll admit. I’m a bit biased as I have a natural bent toward technology and gadgets. For the most part, they have served me well and an overall knowledge of what is possible through the use of technology for communicating with excellence as well as culturally engaging ways, has proved to be a useful leverage for my ministry. But this post is not about me, but the benefits that this knowledge has brought me over the years. I would love to share a few thoughts with you, that whether technology is your natural bent or not, on how a better knowledge of it can serve you and your team better. The truth is, while many of us may not be “techies”, technology itself is not going away. In a very real sense (good or bad–that’s another post entirely), it has become the language in which the world speaks.

It helps you connect with your staff and volunteers

One thing a decent overall view of technology will help you do is communicate better with your tech staff and/or volunteers and help you speak their language. They live in a world that the evangelical church for the most part is still struggling to understand, and as a result, they often feel misunderstood and underappreciated. Having at least a cursory sense of what their responsibilities entail and knowing how to communicate reasonable expectations to them, can make a world of difference in your church culture and the practical outcomes that you experience each week. People who feel understood and appreciated will work exponentially more effectively than those who do not. And the truth is, it’s difficult for them to feel truly appreciated if they believe you have no idea what they actually do. By speaking their language, you open up a door to deeper relationships and increased productivity from those who are so vital to the effectiveness of your ministry.

It helps you set reasonable expectations

When a leader has very little concept of what is entailed in a creative project, it becomes very easy to set unreasonable expectations and/or get less than stellar results. Your tech and creative staff by nature are often “people pleasers” in that they truly want to please those whom they serve. Because of this, they will often not communicate how they feel about your expectations even when they know they are unreasonable. The result is often either burned out staff and volunteers (at best), loss of morale in the overall creative culture, or disastrous and less-than-desirable results, or all of the above. When you have a general understanding of what is entailed in technology and creative projects, you will set better expectations for your volunteers and staff as well as get more consistent, quality results. I believe you would agree that our people and our ministries are worth it.

It helps you save resources

In many church cultures, the attitude is often that “technology costs money, therefore we don’t value it, because we can’t afford it.” The truth is actually often quite the opposite. A well known financial radio host often says “Never spend more than $300 on something you don’t fully understand.” This is great advice. However, as with much technological advancements, when fully understood, what costs you $300 could save you thousands or more over the long run.

There are many things in life that technology, no matter how advanced can never replace–mainly meaningful human interaction. However, I’ve seen so many processes in churches that don’t increase the value of human interaction but are human resource intensive or costly that otherwise could be simplified and streamlined through the use of technology. Why would I take good people away from meaningful ministry with others to perform dull, monotonous tasks that a computer and some relatively inexpensive software could leverage at far less personnel costs or the sacrifice of meaningful ministry interaction. Yeah, I wouldn’t and you wouldn’t either. But we don’t know what we don’t know. As a leader it’s important to seek out input from our staff, volunteers and those outside our church walls to gain exposure to ways we can make our ministries more effective by helping people to do what only people can do–make more and better disciples of Jesus. Let people do what only people can do and let’s leverage other avenues for accomplishing some necessary, but less important tasks.

It helps you ask better questions

When you have an understanding of the technological options available and what is possible through those, it helps you ask better questions of your team. While creatives and technical staff seem to often want to color outside the lines, the truth is, most of the time they need (and want) boundaries. Yes, they hate to be micromanaged, but they also enjoy the freedom of working freely within well-defined expectations. When you know what is possible, you are free to ask the questions of your team that they love to hear. One of the greatest questions I’ve learned to ask in creative meetings is “How might we (fill in the blank)?”. I usually don’t ask the question without having a few ideas of my own to help prime the pump, but I also realize that rarely are my ideas the best ideas in the room. Having a general understanding of what is possible through technological means, can help your team enjoy more creativity and achieve better results.

Here are some resources that you might find helpful in gaining a greater understanding of how to better leverage technology for ministry:

I’m glad that at BBC, where I serve as faculty, we are addressing this through more focussed classes on technology in church music and ministry. If you haven’t had an opportunity, click the link above and see if www.gobbc.edu could be right for you. Several online opportunities are available as well.

What would you add to this list? What are some ways in which technology has hurt or helped your ministry?

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