One would think that recording live sermons would not be so difficult in these technologically advanced days we are living in at the moment. Well that one would be mistaken! The process of live recording sermons and distributing them through your church’s web site can be quite difficult, to say the least. Obstacles abound! If your attempt to inch slightly ahead of the learning curve you are introduced to by the technology involved doesn’t sink you, the seemingly never-ending electronics shopping by trail and error will. Hint: If you don’t know what you are doing, you don’t know what to buy! Sometimes all who wander are in fact lost! All of this wandering around the electronics store, and trying to do it by trial and error, only results in more work and time lost.
The Value of Time, Energy, Resources, and Frustration
Let me clarify the context before I continue: I’m speaking from a church planter’s perspective. I’m speaking from the perspective of one who does not have a technology staff of one, much less five people. I’m speaking from the perspective of a planter who has to wear more hats then he ever asked to wear! Church planting is different, obviously. It is hard, labor intensive, and incredibly gratifying, spiritually speaking. The goal is to limit the hard and labor intensive aspects of planting, and maximize the spiritually gratifying aspects. If you do this, you’ll last a lot longer as a planter and pastor. Your family will thank you too!
So, how does one maximize the gratifying aspects of planting and minimize the sinkholes? The first thing to do is to stop trying to take short-cuts! Dedicate yourself to doing the high-priority things right the first time! Do these high-priority things once and be done with them! If you do not, you will spend needless amounts of time, energy, resources, and frustration (you’ll want to save this frustration for other events church planting will introduce to you!) on half-baked mistakes; in the end you will end up doing what you knew you should do in the beginning anyway. Do yourself and your ministry a favor and just do it right the first time out.
This is no more true than in the process of recording live sermons and distributing them online, through your church’s web site.
I spent nearly two months trying to make high-quality recording of sermons. I went through all sorts of hand-held devices and desktop application trying to find a decent way to make quality recordings. I failed, over and over and over. I should note that during this time of trial and error, we did not have a PA system. Remember, we are a brand new church plant! So, I tried many, many handheld recording devices. I tried handheld devices with microphone extensions. I tried a lot of things. They all failed. My frustration grew and my time was wasting.
I needed something that could record quality MP3 - or even WAV - formatted files. I needed to be able to easily plug in into my PC and transfer the files. Nothing was working. Circuit City and WalMart were not helping, at all! In fact, they were only compounding my issues.
Enter Guitar Center and the M-Audio Microtrack II.
I had a breakthrough on the day we purchased our PA system. I asked about digital recorders that we could plug directly into the PA board. The guy introduced us to Microtrack II, by M-Audio. It can be plugged into the board or used independently. My first use of Microtrack II was independent. We did not have time to set up the PA equipment for Sunday morning, so I thought I’d give Microtrack II a try without the PA system. It worked awesome, save my poorly set input levels (I had them set a bit too high, which affected the quality of the recording slightly). The recording was the best I had made with a hand-held digital device, ever. The quality will increase as my working knowledge of Microtrack II increases too. So, it’s all upward from this point. I can now stop investing priceless time, energy, and resources into this need and move onto other important things. Thank God.
The moral of the story, church planters, is this: just do it right the first time out. Yes, it may cost a bit more, but the time, energy, resources, and frustration saved is worth any one-time monetary sacrifice. It’ll pay for itself in one month. Stay away from electronics stops like Circuit City and WalMart and go to a professional audio counter near you and ask the young, starving musician working the counter to help you. You’ll be thankful you did!