March 10, 2007

Fall IT Roundtable Invitation

I was part of a group of IT leaders from very large churches that met a couple of times a year for three years or so. The group (which never had a name other than “megachurch IT group”) included Mike Gold of Willow Creek, Terry Chapman of Fellowship Church, Vic Mollett of Southland Christian Church, Eric Busby of Saddleback Church, and others. When last we met in May of 2005 I told the group I would host the next meeting here at Church of the Resurrection in the Kansas City area in 2006. Unfortunately, I got slammed last year with workload and staff turnover issues so I wasn't able to make it happen. I recently exchanged e-mail with Mike Gold about renewing my invitation to host the group here and suggested merging the group with the Church IT Roundtable. He was very supportive and hoped to be able to attend and invite the old gang to join the Roundtable.

Accordingly, we would like to invite you to come to Kansas City for the Fall Roundtable October 3-4, which is right before Leadership Institute, our biggest conference of the year. After the Roundtable you could stay for Leadership Institute if you’re so inclined. I spoke with Tony Dye about getting this on the agenda for discussion at the Spring Roundtable to determine the level of interest. To get the conversation started, please leave a comment here and let me know if this sounds good.

National Church IT Association?

If you read Jason Powell’s blog, you already know about his hope to create some sort of national church IT association. (Tony has arranged for Phill Martin of NACBA to come to the Spring Roundtable to speak about this.) Now as for me, I strongly prefer the roundtable format for meeting with and learning from other church IT leaders. I worry that formalizing and scaling up what we’re doing into a national association would result in losing the powerful, peer-to-peer sharing of the roundtable format. I also worry that we’ll discover even the 25-30 people expected to attend the Spring Roundtable will be too many for everyone to fully participate. So what to do?

Fall Roundtable Format

Now here’s where it gets really exciting (we think?!) or maybe even crazy. For the last couple of years I have been meeting informally with church IT leaders here in the Kansas City area such as Mike Mayfield of Pleasant Valley Baptist Church. I suspect many of you have had similar meetings with other church IT leaders in your own cities. Perhaps some of you have already held roundtables in your cities. This makes me wonder if the best way for us to scale up would be to have roundtables in cities across the country and then link them technologically.

What if we made a first effort at this idea for the Fall Roundtable? What if we limit attendance here in Kansas City to 15-20 people and find some great way to link in roundtable groups from other cities? This idea is partially inspired by the Willow Creek Leadership Summit that brings together church leaders from around the world. We’re imagining some kind of “un-conference” that retains the strengths of peer-to-peer sharing but is scalable to involve many more people than you can fit around one table. We would like for everyone to be able to see/hear each other and use their own laptops to annotate/live blog the discussion and have side conversations. We’re not even close to figuring out how to do this from either a facilitation or technical standpoint, but one idea is to use Adobe Connect (formerly Macromedia Breeze). Whatever the mechanism is, we would need to fully test both the technology and the method of facilitation prior to the meeting. And, no doubt, we’d learn a great deal from doing this once. At that point we would know either a) this works; b) this works but needs to be tweaked/improved; or c) it doesn’t/can’t work.

Please comment and let me know your thoughts or post on your own blog and link back to this post.


Mike Mayfield said...

Tony, Great idea! I love the idea of national networking either through a national church IT group or through a series of roundtable meetings or possibly a combination of the two. I would be happy to help in any way I can to make this Fall IT Roundtable happen and would love to have a seat at the table.

Anonymous said...

Clif, you know my answer since we have already talked about this, I'm in. I think it's a great idea to integrate the church IT roundtable with the Leadership Institute.

I'll be there for both and I'll help out however you need me to.

Anonymous said...

Clif - I think this is a great idea. I'm in as well. I think we might be able to swing being a host site if the distributed conference thing works.

Anonymous said...

Hello Mike,

Thanks for the E-Mail about the round-table. I'm in, looking forward to seeing and networking with others.

Warren Nawroth
The Village Presbyterian Church
Prairie Village, KS

Jim Edwards said...

Clif good to hear from you again! I'm in sounds like a great idea.

Jim Edwards
IT Director
Kansas City Baptist Temple

Anonymous said...

Clif, you know I love both local groups and national get-togethers (and I know that most people have to limit themselves because of time or budget). Like Mike, I think there's a place for a mix and match. I've already set aside the dates on my calendar. I'll give this more attention once we get past our event next month in Houston.


Anonymous said...

Great idea! I'm in. Looking forward to learning and meeting other IT folks.

Jason Wilson
IT Director
Indian Creek Community Church

Anonymous said...

I just heard about this web blog and the proposed IT Roundtable this fall from Mike Mayfield and am interested in being a part of it. I am at First Baptist Raytown (MO) and now am the only IT guy here. I'll keep my eye on this blog too.

Anonymous said...

I guess I should go ahead and say "yes, I'd like to be there!" (If I fit the requirements)

Tony Dye
IT Director
Perimeter Church
Duluth GA

Anonymous said...

Hi Clif!

Thanks for all you're doing to help organize this. Count me in!
Nick Nicholaou
MBS, Inc.
Huntington Beach, CA & Nashville, TN
Engineering & Supporting Ministry networks Nationwide

Anonymous said...

I'll be there.
Bryson Medlock
IT Director
College Heights Christian Church
Joplin, MO

Anonymous said...

I don't know that my budget can afford another roundtable trip this year ... but put Ed and I down as interested.

Jason Powell - IT Director
Ed Buford - Network Admin
Granger Community Church

Andrew Mitry said...

I am definitely interested in attending.

Anonymous said...

Count me in.
Jason Lee
IT Director
Northwoods Community Church

Unknown said...

Fantastic ideas, gang. Very exciting stuff. I am interested in attending onsite in KC.

James Arnold

Austin Spooner said...

i would also be very interested in attending a fall round table in Kansas City. It is a bit closer to Iowa than the rest of them are.

David S. said...

Count me in! David Szpunar, Network & Systems Manager, Lakeview Church, Indianapolis, IN.

I think the technologically-linked conference idea sounds interesting, but when I read this post it gave me pause:

I know I personally am looking forward to face-to-face time.

David S. said...

Sorry this is the link I meant to post: Face-to-Face Trumps Twitter, Blogs, Podcasts, Video...

(sorry, I don't use Blogger often, comments work differently than on WordPress!)

~David Szpunar

Unknown said...

I've added it to my calendar and I'm looking forward to finally meeting a lot of you.

Sean T. Strickland
Information Technology

North Point Ministries
€Browns Bridge Community Church
€Buckhead Church
€North Point Community Church
Direct: 678.892.5455
Cell: 678.576.4149
Fax: 678-892-5601

We enable our ministries to lead more people into a growing relationship with Jesus Christ by leveraging technology to provide excellence in our products and services.

Anonymous said...

The first church IT roundtable in Granger was awesome but, I totally agree with you that 20-30 people limits the effectiveness and intimacy of the group. The small regional groups sound good as the travel would be less and would help churches with smaller budgets. Another idea that has worked well in other areas for our church is to group churches by size. Churches of similar size deal with the same issues, have closer to the same IT budgets and IT staff size. A 500 member church with one volunteer IT guy has a hard time relating to a 20,000 member church with a full time IT staff of 3 or 4 people and 10 volunteers, but their needs to have a round table are just as great (probably more).

On another note, the thing with all the vendors coming to the round table bugs me a little (just my opinion). As IT decision makers for our churches, we are bombarded by so many vendors daily, these round tables are a forum were we can actually just let our guard down and speak and share freely with our peers. I'd rather pay for my own lunch and leave the vendors out of it (just my opinion).

Count me in for KC.


Jesse Goodwin
IT Director
Grace Covenant Church
& Grace Covenant Academy
Cornelius, NC

Nancy Smith said...

Keep me posted.

Nancy Smith
Blackhawk Church, Madison, WI

Unknown said...

I would be interested in their case local or national. The advantage of national is vendors and more people to connect with, and local is cheaper and better for time to work together. Houston will be my first meeting, but I plan on getting involved either way. I am planning on Kansas City it will be real close for me here in Nebraska.

Anonymous said...

After being at the Spring roundtable at Sugar Creek this week, I'm definitely interested in coming to KC in the Fall. Please add me to your list.

Kirk Longhofer said...

Clif and Brian... you guys have a tough act to follow. Looking forward to it!


Anonymous said...

I am interested. Keep me posted Clif. Glad to get reconnected online too.

Anonymous said...


Count me in. After attending the Spring Round Table in Houston, I am even more excited as to how I can serve the group and learn from the group!

Unknown said...

After the last Roundtable how can I say no to this one. So I am in, and I hope I can bring 2 or 3 others from Frist Pres of Bellevue with me.

David Crist
Network Admin
First Presbyterian Church of Bellevue

Hey Norton said...

I'm interested, please keep me in the loop.

Andrew Norton
Business Manager
Grace Brethren Church of Lititz
501 W Lincoln Ave
Lititz, PA 17543

Anonymous said...

Cliff, count me in...I'm looking forward to it!

Chris Todd
Director of Technology
Champion Forest Baptist Church

Anonymous said...

I'm in.

Digital Cross said...

Mark me down as well. I am very excited about meeting everyone and participating. God is going to use this in a mighty way

-Chris Kehayias
Director of IT
Calvary Chapel Melbourne

Anonymous said...

Count me in. Was at the first RT, couldn't make the second but I'm totally down for the 3rd!

Michael Sainz
IT Coordinator
Sunset Presbyterian Church

Unknown said...


Arena guys will be there - so count our team in!

MarCom Coordinator
Arena Division of Shelby Systems, Inc.

Dean Lisenby said...

Knock Knock... can I come in?

Dean Lisenby
ACS - Director of IT.

Anonymous said...

I'd be interested in attending - locally or remotely.

Anonymous said...

I am interested in attending

Thank you,

Randy Smith
Whittier Area Community Church
Whittier, CA

Worldview Blog said...

Clif - great idea to leverage live meeting technology to fit more people around the table.

I'm located in Nashville, TN and work with both a large local church (Bethel World Outreach Center), and the ministry organization of which Bethel is a part (Every Nation Ministries). As such, I'm interested in this discussion both from an end user point of view and a provider of services point of view. Count me and my team in.

We'd certainly be open to hosting a local gathering, as Nashville is home to a large number of active and growing technology-savvy churches

Mark Mingus
IT Director
Every Nation Ministries
Brentwood, TN

Anonymous said...

Hey Folks!

Ken Celecia from Fairway Consulting Group here. We are interested in attending the IT Roundtable again. Who do we get in touch with to discuss speaking opportunities, sponsorship, etc?

Anonymous said...

Wow, this sounds like a great idea. I don't know if our budget can swing a flight out there (we're located all the way in San Diego), so put us down as a maybe, but we would love to participate in a regional roundtable!

Anonymous said...

Hey guys, how are things coming for getting registered? I'm ready to commit flights, hotel, etc. Any guidance? Thanks!