4 Essential Questions Pastors Can Use to Troubleshoot Technical Problems

Church leaders are increasingly relying on technology to deliver their weekend service experiences. Audio, video and lighting systems are now a standard part of many Sunday mornings in churches across the country. Most pastors aren’t naturally technically inclined but we heavily rely … that’s a recipe for anxiety! How can a pastor interact with the technical teams when things go wrong with these systems?

PluggedInI have found the following four questions can be used by church leaders to help push towards technical solutions when we face them on Sunday. I know these seem very simplistic but remember Occam’s razor … the simplest explanation is usually the correct one. Time and time again all you need to do is find the answer to these four questions and you will be able to solve most of your technical issues.

  • Is it plugged in? // Are all the connections firmly connected (on both ends)? Are they put into the right place? Are all the cables that need to plug in to make this thing work plugged in?
  • Is it turned on? // Does it have more than one power switch? Is there a toggle switch to turn this particular piece to turn on?
  • What changed since we last used it? // Often when things don’t work it’s because something changed since it was used last … find the change(s) and put it back to the previous state.
  • Who do we need to communicate with? // If something isn’t working it’s going to have an impact beyond our team. Who do we need to update on the progress of this situation? Is there someone that we can get on the phone to help us troubleshoot this issue? Go into over-communication mode when things go wrong … don’t go silent!

Just yesterday I was visiting a campus and we had a lighting system only partially working … these four questions helped us find the problem in less than 5 minutes. One power switch was turned off (who knows why!) and when we turned it back on everything was fine! It really is that simple.

1 Comment

  1. Hey Rich,

    These are indeed 4 great questions to ask when there’s tech trouble… however, can I suggest these are not questions for the non-technical pastor to ask? If you have the right people doing the technical work (including volunteers), you can teach these 4 to the tech crew. Shouldn’t the advice to pastors be “train your volunteers” and “trust their expertise”? As a techie, having non-technical people asking well-intentioned questions right in the middle of troubleshooting time-sensitive, high-stress issues usually distracts me and may lead me to miss something. And if it’s the pastor asking, there IS a certain pressure/expectation that I need to give a full answer as to how I’ve already done what they’ve suggested (thus wasting time, energy and focus). 🙂

    Sorry if I’m way off base – I’m just reflecting on my own experience. 🙂


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Rich Birch
Rich Birch is one of the early multi-site church pioneers in North America. He led the charge in helping The Meeting House in Toronto to become the leading multi-site church in Canada with over 5,000+ people in 18 locations. In addition, he served on the leadership team of Connexus Church in Ontario, a North Point Community Church Strategic Partner. He has also been a part of the lead team at Liquid Church - a 5 location multisite church serving the Manhattan facing suburbs of New Jersey. Liquid is known for it’s innovative approach to outreach and community impact. Rich is passionate about helping churches reach more people, more quickly through excellent execution.His latest book Church Growth Flywheel: 5 Practical Systems to Drive Growth at Your Church is an Amazon bestseller and is design to help your church reach more people in your community.