God calls people of all different backgrounds to serve His church. When the words “Information Technology” and “Media Specialist” come up, most people would not associate “being called” to either of these positions. However, this is a vital need of the 21st century church. How do we communicate God’s truths in an increasingly digital world? What’s the best way to host small groups in non-traditional formats? How can we streamline the church’s processes and flows to create an efficient environment? Or in the case of a media specialist, how can we create an atmosphere of worship in our church? How can we use our creativity to communicate God’s truths and attract individuals who are far from God to hear the Gospel?
Information Technology & Media is here to stay in our churches. We need people who are called to serve in these areas, otherwise, we will continue to struggle in adapting to our digital culture and changing landscape.
Information Technology is not a synonymous term with Media Specialist. In fact, they are two distinct roles.
Information Technology (IT) is the use of any computers, storage, networking and other physical devices, infrastructure and processes to create, process, store, secure and exchange all forms of electronic data. Typically, IT is used in the context of business operations, as opposed to technology used for personal or entertainment purposes. The person tasked with this role oversees all the communication needs of the church and works to create efficient means of accomplishing the church’s mission and safeguarding its infrastructure.
Media Specialist is a bit harder to define generally because the position in a church may be so different from one church to the next. A media specialist could be a person tasked with overseeing publications or the website; an audio-visual director tasked with overseeing sound, video, and lighting for worship services and other events; a photographer and video specialist; a person who is tasked with setting up audio-visual means for various needs including promotional media, live streaming, and other media-specific tasks.
Sometimes these positions are separate and sometimes they are joined. This could be one individual or many performing these roles in your church. Overall, a person who is called to this area of ministry supports the church to be effective in a digital world.
The Information Technology Director or Specialist is responsible for designing, maintaining, and improving the communication infrastructure for the church. This includes the church’s switches, access points, servers, data storage, phone system, and other hardware connected to the network. This IT person will also administer network and data security, including directory, group policy, firewalls, virus protection, and email security. In addition to maintaining infrastructure and administering security, the IT Director or Specialist will also support software needs including the church management system (CMS). Most churches will require the IT person to perform end-user support in resolving issues on individual workstations as needs arise. An IT Director should maintain a helpdesk system to quickly report and resolve IT issues.
The Media Specialist responsibilities will depend on the specific needs of the church. Depending on the position the church is seeking, an individual may be required to do some of the following: photography, videography, audio/visual setup/execution, graphic or video editing, website creation and maintenance, and much more. Although a media specialist should be an expert in the area they were hired, he or she should be at a minimum competent to engage across all media areas. The media specialist will also be responsible for communicating media needs and supporting ministry endeavors that require the use of media.
There are many great technical programs within colleges and technical schools that will prepare you for this role. There are also a number of certifications that would qualify you to fulfill the role of IT specialist in a church setting. Common certifications include CompTIA A+ & CompTIA Net+ and Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE) certifications. Most businesses require a bachelor’s degree in computer science, informational systems, or related field. A minimum of 2-years’ experience in an IT-related role will also go a long way to prepare you to serve in this role.
Unlike the business world, churches often will not be so stringent on education, experience, or certifications. Churches are often more concerned with your ability to do the job well. However, preparing yourself to have the right tools to do well will go a long way in fulfilling the call of God on you to meet the information and media needs of the church.
The digital divide in churches is real. Many churches are struggling to stay relevant in a time when so much is changing. Worship, communication, small groups, and the way we do church have all drastically changed. Churches need experienced technical individuals who can meet the needs of the church in the digital age. This will be an expanding staff need within churches going forward.
Typically, Information Technology and Media Specialists are not considered pastors in the traditional sense. The position of an Information Technology Director or a Media Specialist is typically not voted on by the church body but hired by the pastor or pastoral staff. Networking is a large part of getting noticed and considered for these roles. Also, many individuals find themselves in such roles by volunteering and created a need that the pastoral staff recognizes as valuable. Churches will advertise on SBC.net, along with other ministry placement sites for such positions. Many churches will look to secular job placement services for people with such skills.