Unplanned blogging hiatus

Why did I launch clifguy.com and then not blog for 6 weeks?

  1. trip to Florida to meet with Christ Fellowship and Flamingo Road
  2. personal briefcase/laptop bag stolen
  3. lost my assistant Amy (promoted to the executive suite – good for her, bad for me!)
  4. interviewed for and hired Amy’s replacement
  5. several staff teams moving from one office to another requiring changes to the cable plant
  6. new private office for me (yea! but a took time to move)
  7. IT staff vacations, leaving me to cover
  8. end of fiscal year for my wife’s church for which I am the unofficial CFO
  9. obtained a new vehicle for my wife (yea! but a pain to research, test drive, etc.)
  10. replacement laptop arrived so I had to move onto it
  11. Glenn Kelley of Vine Hosting in for a 4-day visit
  12. my daughter returned home from 6 weeks study abroad in Europe
  13. major rain storm that flooded the basement of my wife’s church, the cleanup was left to me and Glenn due to many people from her church going on a mission trip
  14. trip to Colorado to take my 16 year-old son backpacking

In his blog roll Brian has me as “Clif Guy Some of the Time”. In truth, for 6 weeks it was “Clif Guy None of the Time”. Now you know why.

The sad tale of my laptop’s demise

June 17-19 Chuck Russell and I visited South Florida to benchmark the Internet Campuses of Christ Fellowship and Flamingo Road. When we arrived at the Palm Beach airport, I hit a snag totally of my own making. Somehow I forgot that I had carried my bag on to the plane whereas Chuck had checked his. So we moseyed on down to the bag claim, whereupon I regained my senses and realized I had left my bag on the plane. By the time I found the right person with US Air’s baggage service, it was too late and the plane was already on its way back to Charlotte. I’ve traveled a lot on business and never have done anything quite that absentminded.

Jason Reynolds, IT Director at Christ Fellowship, had met us at the airport. He waited while I filed a report with the baggage service. They said they would bring the bag to my hotel as soon as it came in. I would just need to be patient. I was mad at myself over the inconvenience, but it wasn’t a huge deal.

Jason showed us around the Palm Beach area a bit and then we went to dinner at a great seafood place where we were joined by David Helbig, Internet Campus Pastor at Christ Fellowship. A church member came into the restaurant and saw us. There were introductions all around. Before we knew it, dinner for our whole table was picked up by this generous man. The evening had taken a decided turn for the better.

After dinner, Jason asked if we would like to go check out the beach before going to our hotel. Being from landlocked Kansas, Chuck and I readily agreed. Here’s the sunset, captured on my (bad) cell phone camera.

Juno Beach in Jupiter, FL

Jason Reynolds at Juno Beach

Little did we know as Chuck, Jason, David, and I discussed Internet Campus while enjoying a beautiful night on the beach that just a couple hundred feet away in the beach parking lot, Jason’s car window was smashed and my briefcase/laptop bag was stolen containing my laptop, digital camera, web cam, cables, and all kinds of personal items. It was a sinking feeling when we returned to the car and I discovered my bag missing and Jason’s window smashed. The Jupiter police were very professional and courteous, but it’s now been 6 weeks and (no surprise) nothing has been recovered.

After filing the police report, Jason took us to our hotel. It was very weird walking in to the hotel and checking in without luggage of any kind. My only possessions at that moment were my wallet and cell phone that were in my pockets.

Jason was very generous and hooked me up the next morning with a Dell D530 laptop out of Christ Fellowship’s inventory so I could at least get my e-mail and have a way to take notes during the trip. However, without all my usual tools (camera, PhotoShop, Windows Live Writer, etc.) I wasn’t able to blog. In fact, due to that incident and a lot of other things I’ll share soon, I’m just now getting back to a normal workload and routine. Hence the sudden return of my blogging.

I wish I had a profound theological comment to add here, but alas, it just sucks to have your laptop stolen. Don’t be like me. Be sure to put your laptop in the trunk or otherwise hide it from the prying eyes of thieves. Also, it’s a really good idea to encrypt the contents of your laptop hard drive. You’ve been warned.

Death of the land line

Eight years ago I hired a software developer in his low 20s, straight out of college. He had a cell phone but no land line at home. It was quite weird at the time, but was the start of a trend. The number of land lines in use in the US has dropped every year since 2000. Newsweek now reports that so far in 2008 the rate of decline has jumped sharply.

In an informal poll, the Newsweek reporter discovered that among his acquaintances under 30, almost none had land lines at home. I can understand why. My family of four has four cell phones and two land lines. Even though cellular service is still one or two orders of magnitude worse than land line service, I’m really wondering why I still have those two land lines at home. The fact that the cell service is worse probably isn’t enough reason to justify having land lines. What are your thoughts? Do you still have land lines at home? If you do, are you thinking of dropping them?

Life Church Internet Campus benchmarking day 1

I’m in Oklahoma City with Chuck Russell, Brian Slezak, and Andrew Conard to benchmark LifeChurch’s Internet Campus by observing them in action and by meeting with Terry Storch (Digerati Pastor) and Brandon Donaldson (Internet Campus Pastor).

Our day began with attending the 10:00 service (“experience” in LifeChurch parlance) at the Edmond campus where the Global Operations Center and Internet Campus offices are located.

worship at LifeChurch Edmond

After the 10:00 experience, Terry took us up to the Global Operations Center where we got a high-level view of what was happening at all Life Church campuses, including the Internet Campus, during the 11:30 experience.

LifeChurch Global Operations Center sign

Terry Storch discusses the Internet Campus while it displays on the lower monitor

We then went over to the Internet Campus offices to chat with Brandon Donaldson while the 11:30 experience was underway.

Brandon Donaldson (Internet Campus Pastor) with his DELL laptop!

Terry’s boss, Bobby Gruenewald, dropped by.

Bobby Gruenewald and Terry Storch

We learned many interesting things and I’m sure have much more to learn when we meet again on Monday.

After hanging out with Brandon, Terry, and Bobby, we grabbed some lunch and went downtown to see the Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum. In this photo you can see the 9:01 Gate with First Methodist Church in the upper right background. Being right across the street to the SE of the Murrah Building, the church was heavily damaged in the blast and played a key role in the recovery following the events of April 19, 1995.

01 Gate and First United Methodist Church

My apologies to Jason Reynolds and David Helbig of Christ Fellowship, who hosted Chuck Russell and me back in mid-June as we benchmarked the Internet Campuses of Christ Fellowship and Flamingo Road. Due to my laptop being stolen the night we arrived (while we were enjoying the beach), I never posted a single blog entry about our trip or what we learned there. I hope to correct that soon!

Should a congregation use technology?

Pastor Andrew Conard of our congregational care team at Resurrection is in a series of posts about the “business side” of the church.  I started to compose a comment to his post on technology and ended up with a post of my own.  So here are my thoughts in response to Andrew.

A local congregation isn’t a “business” in the sense of an organization that is operated with the objective of making a profit from the sale of goods or services.  Though its mission is quite different from that of a business, a congregation is an organization that should be just as purposefully operated as the most efficient and effective business.  We rightfully use different terminology when discussing congregational strategy, yet the parallels to business strategy are as numerous as they are obvious.  I believe God wants us to use our brains fully in pursuit of the mission He gave us.  When that means borrowing great ideas from business, we should do that to the fullest extent consistent with our mission.

So, to answer Andrew’s question, technology is largely created by profit-motive-driven businesses for the purpose of becoming more efficient, more effective, and more profitable.  Why wouldn’t a kingdom-driven congregation borrow those tools and techniques from business in order to become more efficient and effective in pursuing our God-given mission?

Once having decided to use technology, good judgment is required to apply it in a ministry setting.  Not every technology advances our Kingdom cause.  Not every shiny new thing is appropriate, effective, or affordable.  Even technologies that make a huge positive contribution commonly have a dark side that must be carefully managed.  WIth care, skill, and a willingness to invest, technology can be a major accelerator.  That’s why I feel called of God to use my secular technology skills in pursuit of Resurrection’s mission.  For a congregation to make optimal use of technology, it needs people like me to select, acquire, manage, and support it.  I am honored God has called me to serve in this way.

Not keeping up with the price of gas

I bought gas at the Phillips 66 station in Parkville last night.  The van tank holds approximately 23 gallons and it was nearly empty.  Price was $3.799, so that’s an $85 fill up.  Towards the end of the fill up, I noticed the flow slow and then stop exactly on $75. Apparently the pump had authorized my card for $75 and it wouldn’t allow me to pump any more.  I had to complete that transaction and then initiate a second one to pump the last $10.

At $2/gal, $75 would fill any tank except the largest commercial vehicles.  At $3.799, $75 won’t fill an ordinary Ford Freestar.  You think they should change the pump software to authorize a higher amount?