Internet Campus Project Team homework #1

This post is homework for the Internet Campus Strategic Project Team at Resurrection.  Those of you not on our project team, feel free to learn along with us.

1. Read/view the following blog posts and videos and be prepared to share your reactions at our next meeting.

Senior Pastor Adam Hamilton’s eNote of August 24, 2007 in which he first mentioned the idea of Internet Campus

Church Online: Resurrection Internet Campus? – post by Andrew, read the comments too

A Vision of Students Today – video from K-State’s Digital Ethnography program

A Screen that Ships without a Mouse Ships Broken – presentation by Clay Shirky

2. Attend one service of one of the following churches with Internet Campuses:

Take notes about your experience.  What did you like?  What would you do differently?  What can we learn?  Be prepared to share your thoughts at our next meeting.

Reaction to Shane Hipps

I have been in a conversation with Ben Simpson regarding a post by Steve Knight in which he includes a video of Shane Hipps critiquing the possibility of online Christian community.  This is a subject about which I have thought a great deal as I lead a project at Resurrection to develop an Internet Campus.

I have two reactions to the Shane Hipps video.  The first regards his definition of “Christian community.”  The second regards his comments about the incarnation.

Hipps starts by saying, “We’ve radically altered the definition of [community].”  This premise suggests that at some time in the past Christians have shared an understanding of community that is radically at odds with what happens when people interact online.  It would be helpful to know the source and content of that prior definition, if in fact such a definition has ever existed, in order evaluate the validity of this premise.

Hipps then goes on to give his own definition.  He says, “A meaningful, missional, Christian community should have several ingredients:  1) shared history; 2) permanence; 3) proximity; and 4) a shared imagination of the future.”

Communities can have any or all of the characteristics Hipps mentioned, no argument there, but Hipps is saying a “Christian community” (or more precisely “a meaningful, missional, Christian community”) by definition should have all four of these.  It’s not clear to me that this definition of community is sound, from either a sociological or a theological point of view.

I’m not a sociologist, but I believe a good sociological definition of “community” is a group of people who interact with each other and share one or more things in common such as interests, goals, intentions, worldview, needs, practices, proximity, emotional connection, resources, or identity.  I believe a sociologist would say any one of these or other traits could be the basis of a community as the term is commonly used.

Neither am I a theologian, but some simple illustrations cast doubt on Hipps’ definition.  If church I attend closes, then it wasn’t permanent.  Does that mean the entire time I was part of that church it wasn’t a “Christian community?”  Similarly, if a church I attend never arrives at a shared imagination of the future, does that mean it isn’t a “Christian community?”  If I’m homebound and talk with other congregants by phone and listen to my church’s weekly worship service on the radio, does my lack of proximity mean I’m not part of the “Christian community?”  Further, the term “proximity” is relative.  As long as we’re getting technical here, how close is close enough?  Did people who were close enough to see and hear Jesus but never touched him fully experience the incarnation?

This brings me to my reaction to Hipps’ comments on the relationship between the incarnation and Christian community.  He begins by saying, “Jesus Christ is the ultimate medium and message for God’s revelation in the world.”  He goes on to say it is, “… hard to understand how you incarnate the gospel in a discarnate setting.”  It isn’t our task to “incarnate the gospel.”  God has already done that once and for all.  Jesus is no longer physically present with us in the body in which he was incarnated (or perhaps he is if you accept transubstantiation).  Rather, our knowledge of Jesus is mediated through the Scriptures, the Holy Spirit, and the Church, which is the Body of Christ in the world.  Affirming the gospel as incarnational does not mean we must physically touch Jesus in order to be in communion with God.  My question for Hipps is this: in what way does the incarnation demand that we physically touch each other in order to understand or practice the gospel?

MinistryTECH 2009 is coming!

I just now got an e-mail from Terrell Sanders with the key information about the upcoming MinistryTECH/Church IT RoundTable, April 23-24, 2009 at Woodmen Valley Chapel in Colorado Springs.

Keynotes:

Brad Sheriff – Sonic Drive-ins
Jeff WilsonHenderson Hills Baptist Church
David DrinnonSecond Baptist Church
Mike GoldWillow Creek Community Church

Emcee:

Jason PowellGranger Community Church

Sponsors:

MainStreetOpen.com
Willow Creek Association
Church IT RoundTable
Church Community Builder

April 22 – Ministry Technology Tour:

Compassion International
New Life Community Church
Focus on the Family

Register at: www.MinistryTECH.org

Congress on Evangelism 2009 presentation

I’ve been at the Methodist Congress on Evangelism this week with Chuck Russell. This is the annual national evangelism conference for the United Methodist denomination.  Chuck and I were asked to present on the role of a congregation’s website in evangelism.  Chuck covered the basics and I talked about sermon content delivery, social networking and social media, and Internet Campus.

For fun, I used EVDO on my cell phone and a web cam to live stream our presentation via the Clif Guy Cam on uStream.  When I verified that my EVDO signal was strong enough to support the live stream, I tweeted and within minutes we had 10 people watching. The third time we gave the presentation, I recorded it.  You can watch it here.  Sure, the video production values are so non-existent it’s comical.  Despite that, the video gives a pretty good sense of the presentation.

Web sites/products mentioned in the presentation:

Worst? Buy

I know I’m not the first person to have a bad customer experience at Best Buy.  Neither will I be the last, no doubt.  This is what happened last week.

I went with my daughter, who is a college junior, to Best Buy to look for a laptop.  (Why didn’t we purchase it online?  Because she didn’t want to wait.)  After spending an hour looking at all the models, prices, features, screens, keyboards, etc., she decided on a Dell Studio 15.  It was well equipped and less expensive at $780 than we could get it through any other channel such as the Employee Purchase Program.

So I asked the salesperson if they had one in stock.  He looked around a bit and then checked his inventory system.  The only thing he had was the display model, which he said he would sell for 10% off, but at the same time he wouldn’t recommend that to us.  The inventory system told him that another store 5 miles away did have one and it was listed at $733.  Excellent, we thought, so he called the second store and asked them to hold it for us at the customer service desk.  We immediately took the short drive and found the box waiting for us at customer service as promised.  We paid and went home happy.  So far so good, right?

The next day I unboxed the system to set it up for my daughter.  I expected to see the standard Vista “mini-setup” or sysprep – the final steps in installing the operating system and preparing the new computer for first-time use.  Imagine my surprise when I was greeted instead by a screen showing two user accounts.  As I investigated further, this is what I found:

  • neither of the accounts were protected by a password
  • the system had been in use for 3-4 weeks
  • multiple applications were installed that I didn’t purchase, including Microsoft Office 2007 Enterprise
  • 100 GB of the hard drive was in use, including 23 GB of music, multiple bit torrents of DVDs, etc., none of which I had purchased
  • a document titled “Resume” with a number of revealing details about the user:
    • full name, address, phone number, and e-mail address
    • he graduated from high school in 2005, making him approx. 21
    • he was looking for an IT job
    • he was an employee of that Best Buy store in the Geek Squad

Let that last part sink in a bit.  How in the world had Best Buy sold me a laptop as new that not only wasn’t new but contained a huge amount of copyrighted material that I didn’t purchase?  At the very least this was a serious security breach involving a person who others are entrusting with their computers and data.  How could any Geek Squad employee not have a password on his own computer account?  No matter the circumstances of his use of the computer, how could the computer possibly have ended up being sold to me without him removing his data?  Did he use the computer without the store’s knowledge and somehow sneak it back onto the shelf?  Did the store not know they had sold me an open-box computer as new?  My mind was racing without a lot of information but all kinds of speculation.

Needless to say, I took it back to the store.  Ironically, the person who greeted me at the customer service counter was none other than the previous user of the laptop.  I asked to see the manager.  When he came I asked if there was a place we could speak privately.  When I explained, the manager was shocked and immediately seemed to grasp the seriousness of the situation.  To make a long story short, it turned out that the employee had purchased the laptop and then returned it.  Best Buy’s errors were twofold: 1) they failed to restore the hard drive to the factory load; 2) they sold me the machine as new.  It’s quite possible they knew it was an open box item, accounting for the lower price at the second store compared to the first, but no one at the second store ever told me that.

The manager’s resolution?  He offered his apologies and provided me with another Studio 15 with a slightly better configuration that sells for $865.  (According to the manager, this second unit had been serviced by the Geek Squad to apply latest service packs, updates, etc.  So it wasn’t exactly in the factory shipped configuration.  I took his word for that in spite of the obvious fact that Best Buy had already given me ample reason to question their trustworthiness and procedures.)  He then asked if I was interested in the extended warranty.  I said I would take it if he gave it to me for free, which he declined.  So how’s that for a mediocre response to what was at best major-league mistake?

I’m now attempting to reach the person at Dell who is reponsible for the Best Buy account in the midwest.  Managers far removed from the sales floor occasionally need to hear from real end customers so they can better visualize the kinds of situations that arise at retail and the systems that need to be in place to serve customers well.

CITRT Fall 2008 Days 4&5

It’s difficult to believe I got home from the national Church IT RoundTable at Seacoast Church a week ago tonight.  Sadly, I forgot my digital camera battery, so I don’t have any pictures.  Several other people have posted photos online such as here, and here.  Note particularly Jason Powell’s Flickr set, which includes most of the attendees individually with their name tags, allowing those of us with bad memories to go back and refresh ourselves.  Thanks Jason!

Me with name tag at CITRT Fall 2008
Me with name tag at CITRT Fall 2008

Quick notes from Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday:

  1. The hospitality shown by Trace Pupke, Glen Wood, Geoff Surratt, and the whole Seacoast team was off-the-charts.  We pity the next host if they try to live up to that standard.  Wow!
  2. I posted my raw notes from Wednesday’s main roundtable sessions here.
  3. Based on a quick show-of-hands in the management roundtable session, nearly all of us consider ourselves to be spiritual leaders, but few of us are actively asking those reporting to us about their spiritual lives.  That seems to be a huge growth area for most of us.
  4. Enjoyed meeting Daryl Hunter of LifeChurch.tv, who was there with CITRT-veteran Mark Burleson. The CITRT benefits greatly from the participation of the very largest churches such as LifeChurch and Second Baptist.  They are dealing with things the rest of us haven’t encountered yet and illuminate the path ahead.  They challenge us, stretch us, and inspire us.
  5. Having run an IT professional services firm, I found myself in an instant friendship with Scott Smith, CEO of Solerant.  There are hundreds of IT firms in every major city, but few are committed to serve churches as their primary market and fewer still offer the level of talent and expertise present on Solerant’s team.  One of my action items from the roundtable is to find a project I can outsource to Solerant in order to develop the relationship further.
  6. My first in-person encounter with Blackbaud left me very impressed.  I took the opportunity to have a frank conversation with Liz Marenakos, one of their product managers.  Considering we had just met, she allowed me to push her hard.  She seemed genuinely interested in understanding the needs of local churches and working through the process of adapting their technology and pricing models to fit us.  I strongly urged her to come visit me in Kansas City for an in-depth follow-up conversation.  I hope she will, particularly after what we learned when we toured Blackbaud on Friday.  They have an extraordinarily powerful framework upon which to build products for churches.

CITRT Fall 2008 Day 3

Once again, the Church IT RoundTable managed to be the coolest thing ever.  Here are my quick, contemporaneous notes from the roundtable sessions.  I moderated in Studio B, so my ability to take good notes was limited.

Conference WiFi

  • 24 laptops in the room.  Most if not all connected to the demo Xirrus array in the room.  Worked perfectly.  Kudos.

Mac OS issues

  • magic triangle – term used by Apple to describe AD-OD integration
  • Why do AD-OD integration?
  • Daryl Hunter at LifeChurch not sure why it’s needed.  Mac people have tons of files all over the place, completely unmanaged, not searchable, etc.  Hezekiah Barnes – Mac admin from Southeast very strong
  • Brian O’Neal – faith based support from Apple
  • Biggest issue is setting up ACLs so they sync between the two directories
  • Exchange 2007 even worse problems with Entourage than before.  Entourage database corrupts occasionally.  Problems with people using Entourage on one computer and Outlook on another.  Entourage 2008 is more stable with better features.
  • Don’t need AD integration for file and printer sharing.  Ideally it will work for single sign-on, but this is tough.
  • People love their Macs partly because they’re not managed.  Everyone lets their Mac users be local admin.  Some are doing the same for PC users.
  • Too much Mac data isn’t getting backed up.
  • Can become a certified Apple shop and then do your own repair.  Don’t have to pay for Apple Care.
  • Backup Exec has an agent for Mac.

SAN/Virtualization

  • Compellent has cool interface
  • EMC is awesome performance, difficult to manage
  • EqualLogic is fast
  • SAN Melody is a software-based SAN – does storage virtualization.  Cheap.
  • KVM virtualization for Linux – feature equivalent with ESX.  KVM easier to manage than Xen.  Performance is very good.
  • Windows people love Hyper-V
  • Mark Rock says ESX people are always looking for a place to hold a user group.  Love churches with an open area and WiFi.
  • Compelling reasons for virtualization:  Better hardware utilization.  Quicker disaster recovery.  Lower space requirements, lower heat.

ChMS

  • Joomla has a CRM plug-in
  • Tony says all ChMS are too hard to use.
  • Most discussion around check-in and attendance.  Various theories about hospitality and whether self check-in or assisted check-in is better.
  • David Drinnon built a system using RFID for check-in
  • Text to a short code number (like we did our survey this morning) used by Southeast to do student ministry attendance  http://www.polleverywhere.com/

Desktop management/Help desk

  • Altiris.  Dell is a reseller.
  • Spiceworks
  • AuditISX – open source
  • Easy Audit
  • Everrest Corporate Edition
  • Dave Waters works in the IT Dept. for Numara, makers of Track It
  • Ruckus does authentication integrated with AD
  • Dameware – remote support NT Utilities includes Mini Remote Control.  (Numara resells as Track It Remote)
  • Vista image utility boots from a USB drive.  One image for any kind of machine so long as all drivers are present.
  • Help Desk – Reimage.com

Network monitoring

  • Cacti
  • Ground Work
  • Open NMS

Intranet

  • David Drinnon: “I don’t like Sharepoint.  We’re playing with it.”
  • Daryl Hunter: “LifeChurch built an internal portal.  No adoption.  Abandoned.  What does an intranet give us a search server doesn’t?  We live in e-mail.  Use corporate IM, Yammer.”
  • ACS has a home-built intranet.  Couldn’t work without it.
  • Al Fresco – Sharepoint competitor

iTunes

  • ACS – music not on the network except certain users and certain specific network folders

Remote access

  • Don’t use port 3389 for terminal services.  Consider 2-factor authentication.  Security concerns.

New facility construction

  • 20% “forward thinking”
  • Two 4″ conduits between buildings
  • Two 4″ conduits into the building for the telecom providers

IT Management

  • Surveys of users about help desk experience
  • How to measure IT health?  Key indicators?  My answer: ticket load, project time lines, annual goals
  • Identify felt need -> evaluate how a particular solution fits with mission/values
  • IT Staffing – importance of team affinity is Jason Powell’s #1 lesson of the last year