Step 1: Dream

Technology is often one of the biggest line items in your budget — but how do you know if the A/V system you’ve chosen is the right fit, both now and in the future?

Tim Corder, part of the production and solutions team at Mankin Media Systems, explains the Mankin process for ensuring that your design best reflects the goals, values and DNA of your church.


Tim Corder

How do you know if you’re due for an A/V system upgrade? Are there signs a church should be looking out for?

Corder: Typically, the functional lifespan of performance technology systems is eight to 12 years. That lifespan can be shorter or longer depending on use, values and goals. When your vision, goals and/or strategy toward the weekend service experience a change — or there’s a change in multisite or leadership — that’s a signal to reassess.

You should also pay attention to any complaints from the congregation concerning sound, video or lighting. If you start hearing a consistent thread of comments about a marked change in, for example, volume, oftentimes there’s something to it.

What’s your “4D” process (Dream, Design, Deploy, Defend), and how does it help you ensure an engaging A/V setup for a client?

Corder: Technology is typically the largest single line item in a church’s budget for new construction or renovation — and often the least understood. We walk alongside the leadership team and guide them in developing a worship space that best reflects their goals, values and DNA.

The 4D Process was birthed and refined from our collective experiences with clients gained over the past 16 years. It’s a defensible, documented and highly collaborative road map for consistent, measurable execution. By engaging in the Mankin 4D Process, we can own the outcome.

What can a church expect when they start step one of the 4D process: Dream?

Corder: Every church has the same ultimate vision of connecting souls with their creator. However, every church has some measure of unique DNA, mission, values, vision etc. Any of these elements can morph and shift over time.

The Dream process is a targeted time when we get to know the client. We ask a lot of questions with the primary goal of developing a roadmap for where they want to be in six months, 10 months, and when the project is completed. We use four stepping stones during this “Dream” period: research and ideation; discover audience needs; clarify goals and priorities; and create a roadmap and budget.

What objectives are there for these stepping stones?

Corder: Research and ideation: We look to other spaces for inspiration, including auditoriums, music clubs, gathering spaces, other churches, etc. This is all with the goal of exposing a team to what is out there.

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Discover audience needs: Needs change over time. We ask, “Where is the church now?”, “Where do you see yourselves in 5 years?” We often create a decision triangle when navigating these conversations to help the church balance capability, longevity and investment.

Clarify goals and priorities: There will always be more dreams and goals than there are resources to accomplish them. Priorities must be determined and enforced. Vision must be kept at the forefront to ensure goals are accomplished to further the church’s mission.

Create a roadmap and budget: All the above must go hand in hand with a budget. The right budget must be deeply rooted in what fits the church’s DNA and will meet their strategic needs.

Do you have any tips or ideas when it comes to creating a budget for a new A/V setup/system?

Corder: A core part of the dream process will be to work together to look at other spaces and churches to evaluate and establish baselines for a realistic budget. The most dangerous thing that a church can do in the early days of the project is to arbitrarily set numbers that don’t take current technology and its market prices in to account, or that don’t include what their vision, values, strategies and DNA are — these two elements need to be aligned.

Editor’s note: In the next issue of Church Executive, Shane Skaggs, Mankin’s Chief Design Officer, will outline steps 2 and 3 in the “4D” process: Design and Deploy.


Tim Corder is part of the production and solutions team at Mankin Media Systems. Mankin Media Systems is an A/V/L integration company who is passionate about leveraging performance technology to help clients better engage their audience.

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