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.


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


Jason PowellGranger Community Church

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:

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, 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.


  • 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.


  • 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

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 –

Network monitoring

  • Cacti
  • Ground Work
  • Open NMS


  • 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


  • 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

CITRT Fall 2008 Days 1&2

On Monday I traveled with Brian and Jeremy to Atlanta for the Fall 2008 Church IT RoundTable. Here are my quick notes for Monday and Tuesday:

  1. The flight from Kansas City to Atlanta was the best kind: smooth and uneventful.  The airport rendezvous with Jeremie Kilgore was flawless.  We managed to get a rental car with a trunk large enough for 4 suitcases and 4 laptop bags. The Sprint Navigation GPS software on my Mogul directed us perfectly to Moe’s, though it is quite buggy and requires frequent reboots of the Mogul. While at Moe’s I installed the latest WMWiFiRouter software, which is schweet!
  2. Johnson Ferry Baptist Church.  After dinner, Derek Schwab gave us a tour of JFBC.  Derek is a very busy network manager who has made the best of a small closet for use as a server room.  If you imagine a small data center and then cut that by a factor of 8 or so, you have Derek’s server closet.  😉  A few things caught my eye: metro Ethernet service from Bell South, which makes me jealous; a cool LED message system with a web interface and wireless connectivity; and a monster Xirrus WiFi array, covering their 3-story entry foyer and adjoining rooms.  Derek has done some solid work of which he is justifiably proud.
  3. North Point Community Church and their adjacent office building.  Tuesday morning we enjoyed a tour of NPCC’s IT and A/V infrastructure given by Ryan Clevenger, the head of their network and server team.  We saw and heard many of the things Tony mentioned when he visited 18 months ago, but new things as well.  They are currently in the process of expanding and completely rebuilding their data center in the NPCC main building, but of course everything has to keep running even while the room is under construction.  They’re making the best of a tough situation.  By contrast, their data center in the office building is a thing of beauty.  Sean Strickland, the IT Director, explained that their network infrastructure is “overbuilt” as an intentional strategy.  They want to install infrastructure once and then not mess with it any more so they can focus their efforts on areas that add more value.  They also have clearly-defined processes for day-to-day prioritization as well as annual goal setting.  My team was impressed with that.  They want more structure in their lives.  Heh.
  4. Next we ran over and had a very quick tour of Perimeter Church – only the main auditorium, the data center and IT offices, and the original demarc/MDF.  I just couldn’t stand the idea of being that close to Perimeter without my guys having a chance to see a bit of it.
  5. Following lunch at Zaxby’s, we drove the 5.5 hours to Charleston, checked into our hotel, and left immediately for the pre-roundtable dinner.  Was awesome to see so many friends and meet a few new people too.
  6. After dinner, we went over to Seacoast to help Trace finish last-minute setup.  We got to see his incredibly neat data center and then helped him put out four demo Xirrus WiFi arrays.  Cool!  The CITRT crowd will push them to the limit on Wednesday and Thursday.  By the end of this week, we’ll definitely know what they can do!
  7. The Courtyard WiFi is giving 2.2 Mb/s down and 1.7 Mb/s up.  Not bad; only problem is, connectivity keeps dropping.  Jusin Moore thinks it has something to do with the configuration of their Nomadix box.  Grrr.

Charleston, here we come (but first, Atlanta)

Yay!  It’s time once again for the national Church IT Roundtable (CITRT).  This time it is at the hub of Seacoast Church in Charleston, South Carolina.  I’m stoked because I’ve wanted to visit Seacoast for several years.  Full details of this week’s events are here.  Even if you haven’t made plans yet, it’s not too late to join us.  Register immediately so Trace will know you’re coming.

Rather than flying straight to Charleston, I’m taking my team early and going to Atlanta for tours of Johnson Ferry, North Point, and Perimeter.  Our hosts are Derek Schwab, Ryan Clevenger, and Tony Dye respectively.

Due to Jason Lee’s first child being due any day now, he won’t be able to attend this time.  Jeremie Kilgore is the only one coming from Northwoods.  He’s meeting us in the Atlanta airport Monday afternoon and we’re sharing a rental car and hotels all week.  Excellent.

If you’re not able to attend, we’ll be using the #citrt IRC channel, Twitter, blogs, Flickr, Ustream, etc. to keep you updated on what we’re experiencing.  Charleston, here we come!

Fall RoundTable, yeah baby!


Attention all church IT people.  The Fall 2008 Church IT RoundTable will be hosted by Trace Pupke at Seacoast Church in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina (Charleston area) October 8-10!

Seacoast is among the largest, fastest growing, and most innovative churches in the country. Don’t miss the opportunity to see and learn about this awesome church while connecting with your fellow church IT people.

I will be there along with Brian and Jeremy from my team at ResurrectionI strongly urge you to join us in Charleston to meet a bunch of amazing people and find out if this for you.  We learn a lot from each other and, more importantly, we draw inspiration from each other.  To understand what I mean by that, read my posts after the Fall 2007 RoundTable and the Spring 2008 RoundTable.

Trace has set up a separate blog just for the Fall 2008 CITRT. Check it out here and subscribe to the feed in order to keep up to date with all the details as they come out.

I’m jazzed!  Are you?

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MinistryTECH/RoundTable wrap-up and reflections

Hard to believe it’s been two weeks since the end of MinistryTECH and the CITRT. I still haven’t written the wrap-up post I intended to write the day I got back.  Real life stuff has intruded on my blogging time!

The Church IT RoundTable is just, simply, the coolest thing.  I always come away charged up for another season of ministry.  Why was this week so special?  Here are four main reasons:

1. The pace and variety of the week was terrific.  I enjoyed the drive down on Tuesday afternoon with Ian and Matt.  Our timing was perfect when we picked up Jason and Jeremie from the airport, followed by warm conversation over steak.  Staying at the unofficial conference hotel enhanced the experience as the geekfest continued in various rooms each evening.  We clobbered the poor WiFi, resorted to EVDO, and clobbered that too!  We had the joy of greeting old friends throughout the day on Wednesday as people arrived in OKC and joined the church tours (which I loved – thanks Terrell!).  I liked the combination of general sessions and breakouts Terrell planned for MinistryTECH on Thursday and Friday and met some new people there.  The RoundTable itself was awesome, as always (see notes below).  For dinner on Saturday we enjoyed Buffalo Wild Wings and an important strategic discussion about leading the CITRT, followed by the KU win in the NCAA tournament (sorry Justin).  Sunday morning it was worship at LifeChurch Edmond and then a safe drive home.  The totality of the experience from Tuesday through Sunday was [insert superlative here].

2. That much geek power concentrated in one place is huge fun.  Ian’s parrot-cam (mentioned here and here) is a great example.  I’m old now and more of a manager-geek and leader-geek and less of a geek-geek.  So being around all of the creative energy of the real geeks is reinvigorating for me.  Let’s make sure that we continue to push the boundaries of technology when we get together.  It’s a vital part of our culture.

3. My fellow church IT people inspire me.  I said it at the end of my talk and I’ll say it again here.  Ask anyone on my team about the mood I was in when I got back to the office.  I was glowing like Moses.

4. God has been working on me for a couple of months, pushing me to take my leadership up to the next level.  The week of MinistryTECH and CITRT was a time when that next step came into clearer view.  Many factors came together to make that possible, including some one-on-one time with a close peer.  Thanks.  You know who you are.

Day 5-6 notes:

1. Many, many thanks to Michael Foster for hosting the RoundTable at Crossings.  Everything was excellent, including a spectacular fried chicken lunch and conversation with Sunny and others about the challenges of Internet Campus in the Methodist system. 

2. At Crossings I got 4424 kb/s down, 484 kb/s up, which is good, but when 50+ IT people descend with their laptops on your network, things get hairy in a hurry.  It gets even crazier when you throw video into the mix.  I am volunteering to lead a network design team for the Fall 2008 RoundTable at Seacoast Church.  It will be made up of network people from each of the churches that have hosted the RoundTable so far.  I figure we owe Trace our experience because none of us has the ability to simulate the load and test it in advance.

3. Enjoyed the Sunday 8:30 AM service at LifeChurch Edmond before driving back to KC.  Particularly awesome was the band’s offering of Charlie Hall’s The Solid Rock.  That will get you pumped up in the morning!

4. As promised, I finally uploaded the PowerPoint slides of my talk, "Users or Customers?"

5. Speaking of promises, did Tony Morgan ever make good on his hullabaloo promise?

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CITRT: Internet Campus – Terry Storch

Terry Storch,

Volunteers: Vols are involved in every aspect of Internet Campus: technology, greeting, communications, counseling, missions, etc.

Giving:  They have a way to permit people to donate without having an online account.  Done via PayPal.  They’re working on better UIs for online giving.  Difficult to design a system that works equally well for physical campuses and online campuses.  Made a change that increased physical campus giving 20% but decreased online giving 60%.  That was a bad day for Terry.

Sacraments: They taught on sacraments in a sermon series and lead IC congregants through the process of communion.