Sunday, February 21, 2016

Don't Go It Alone this Year

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Can I ask you a question? How many of your new year’s resolutions have you already broken? Some of them are probably career oriented—things like network more, learn more, be more efficient, be less busy and more effective, etc. If you work in ministry technology as a career, or if you volunteer, let me encourage you to actually do something about networking this year and not to attempt going it alone.

The cliché is silos vs. synergy.  I started in ministry technology as a volunteer in the mid-1990’s.  That turned into a full time career in 2001.  When I started there weren’t many technology resources for ministries and I felt like a silo trying to solve the worlds technology problems on my own.  Google didn’t show up until 1998 and wasn’t very helpful during those early formative years.  

In 2007 I was introduced to a group of folks who worked in church IT that existed to provide synergy.  I attended my first meeting in Chicago and realized I wasn’t alone, my problems weren’t unique, and there were lots of people with more experience than I had who were willing to share and help me get better.  What amazed me is that this wasn’t an organization trying to sell something or with some other agenda.  They don’t even charge membership dues.  It was simply a group of church geeks trying to help advance the cause of the Kingdom.

I was also impressed that theological differences didn’t get in the way.  They weren’t out to solve the questions of the ages but rather to simply help each other apply technology to ministry.  Technology in churches and non-profits is different from technology in the corporate world and this group got that.  Everyone was willing to share and help everyone else out.  No one was trying to protect any trademark secrets.  There was no competition.

It was also encouraging to see IT folks socializing.  As a group we can be rather introverted and awkward.  Put a bunch of those type folks together in the same room who are all struggling to solve the same technological problems and all of a sudden relationships start to form.  Then when we leave that room those relationships continue thanks to our understanding of social media and communication through technology.

If you work full time in ministry technology, volunteer in ministry technology, or manage ministry technology staff and/or volunteers then consider joining this group or encouraging those you lead to join this group.  Did I mention it’s a free group of peers all learning from each other for greater ministry effectiveness?

What is this group you ask?  I’m speaking of The Church IT Network.  Their website says, “If you are passionate about serving the body of Christ through technology, the Chruch IT Network is for you.”  Whether you work or volunteer in help desk, IT management, audio/visual, web development, ChMS, DBA, and more you will find a place in the Church IT Network.  

The biggest hurdle most church tech folks have to being a part of a group like this is time.  We are all busy, we are all being asked to do more with less, and we all have more to do then we could possibly get done in one lifetime.  Instead of using busyness as an excuse let me encourage you to use it as a motivation.  There is a big difference between being busy and being effective.  Often it is best to stop and make time to make sure you and those you lead are being effective.  

Being a part of a group like The Church IT Network doesn’t take much time.  They are there if you need them but don’t require that you participate in required membership meetings.  Did I mention it’s free?  There are no annual dues.  It is simply a group of IT professionals all working towards the same common goal.

I have found that being a part of the various online communities and discussion has actually saved me money.  I’ve posted questions online and received answers within minutes that have saved the ministry I support thousands of dollars.  

The Church IT Network is also a great place to learn about IT in ministry.  Pastors, CFO’s, etc. are all welcome to join and learn more about church IT ministry.  Volunteers are also welcome and encouraged to participate.  Church tech uses volunteers more than any other technology organization in the world and we should want our volunteers to be well equipped.

There are 2 meeting options each year that are available to those who want to gather together.  A regional event in the spring and a national event in the fall.  While there are travel costs associated with these events and some minor event registration fees (the last national event was $75 for 3 days, including meals) they are both well worth it.  We learn together, worship together, and enjoy great food and fellowship.

Proverbs 11:25 says, “A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.” (NIV).  My involvement in The Church IT Network has made me a better IT pro, a better employee, and a better servant of the King.  Take this opportunity at the beginning of the new year to consider growing in your generosity and taking the opportunity to refresh others and be refreshed.  

For more information on The Church IT Network please visit, follow on Twitter @CITRT and join the conversation using the hashtag #CITRT.