I'm not going to tell you that it'll be easy, but I will tell you that it'll be worth it.  When we discuss adding technology to the worship setting, we do our best to always communicate the importance of proper planning and preparation.  Does it take time?  Is it easy to think through your needs?  Would you rather be doing something else?  Yes, no, and probably. 

The Monday after Thanksgiving the world woke up to the fact that, despite President Barack Obama's re-election and Hurricane Sandy's devastation of the expanded New York City metroplitan area, Christmas was still less than a month away.  Oddly enough, the calendar didn't stop for those events. 

For the month before Thanksgiving, we had a mix of business as usual and of the wait-and-see type.  It was the wait-ers who woke up last week in a panic, and that's not good.  At this time of year, it's not unusual to have product shortages and/or events that take place pre-Christmas for which the need is critical.  It's also not so unusual for some of the wait-ers to hold off until the very last minute for whatever reason. 

And sure enough, on Friday night at 6:30PM, I got the call on my cell phone, "Hey Dave, I'm in a bit of a sticky situation, and I need your help.  Our first service is Sunday, and I need a _______."  Our warehouse was closed.  Our suppliers were closed.  Fedex and UPS don't pick up on Saturdays. 

For 4-5 weeks prior to that Friday evening, we tried to get that church to come to the planning table.  We literally pleaded with them to think through their self-install with us, and our advise went unheeded. 

Just to show you that it doesn't have to be this way, let me share another story.  Also on Friday night, I enjoyed the town square Christmas tree lighting in the town where my sister and her family live.  Afterwards, I ran into the pastor of a church for which we installed a sound and video system about six months ago.  Despite a couple follow-up phone calls from me, I hadn't heard from him since a couple weeks after the system was installed, and I asked him how things were going.  He said, "Great. Everything is working just as we'd expect, and we're very pleased." 

Plan ahead.  Make sure that you buy the right product.  Allow yourself enough time to get the gear installed, to learn how to use it, and to make sure that it meets your needs.

The Message of Christmas is too important to trust to chance.  We're all busy, but don't let yourself get stuck without options when a dose of advance preparation could have saved the day.