I had the opportunity for the second year to join with other church technology geeks at the National Church IT Conference, MinistryTECH. This year’s conference was held in beautiful Colorado Springs, CO.
On the first day we got to hear from Brad Sheriff, Vice President of Brand Technologies for Sonic Industries. He was able to share some interesting insights from the commercial world and how they use technology not as a toy but as a critical part of their business model. He encouraged us to look at common everyday situations like Jerry Seinfeld and to look for ways to be innovative.
Brad also explained the importance of IT leaders to communicate their vision with the rest of the organization. When is comes to understanding the importance of this he challenged the group with these questions:
- Who is defining where your organization is going technically?
- Can your senior leadership team tell you your technology strategy in 30 words or less?
In the day 1 breakouts I attended, I got some good insights on project management from Ben Jordan, and video streaming on the cheap from Ian Beyer. Ian has mad networking skills and much of what he said went over my head, but there were several interesting things that I made note of from his talk that will be good for the future.
Another valuable breakout was given by Steve Caton on Empowering Ministry Throught Building Community. Borrowing a fair amount from Seth Godin’s “Tribes” book, he talked to us about the principles of turning your crowd into a ‘tribe’. The idea being that tribes are more of a community, linked together for a common purpose. The goal of churches is to get their members to become more like tribes and less like crowds. Technology and tools have a vital role to play in helping do that and I’m excited to learn more about what Church Community Builder has to offer.
Jeff Wilson closed out the first day with humour and insight on the subject of Social Networking in Ministry. I loved the way he used Prezi.com to make his presentation. This looks like an interesting tool for anyone tired of PowerPoint and Keynote software. Jeff was definitely an encouragement to us to continue our work with pastors and church staff to understand and take advantage of social media tools.
Day 2 we stared the day by hearing from David Drinnon, Pastor and Director of Information Technology at Second Baptist Church in Houston, TX. He challenged us all about making sure our focus stays on the message and not the medium. At the end of the day we heard from Mike Gold, CIO at Willow Creek Community Church in IL. Mike did an amazing job of how technology has an important role to play in Sociology, Integrity, and Justice.
In between those two were Church IT Roundtable (CITRT) breakouts. These proved to be very valuable as we get to talk about issues that we want to talk about and learn from each other in the process.
The biggest take away for me from this year’s event was the meeting and networking with many that are also interested in technology and the church. Many were IT Directors and on paid staff from their respective churches, but several were volunteers like myself. The best part is that we will be able to stay in touch now after the conference via twitter, blogs, and other social media.