August 24, 2007

A tragedy in our department

The two year-old grandson of Linda Ronsick, our Data Quality Administrator, died on Wednesday from an accidental drowning in a pool just a mile from the church. Linda's daughter, the little guy's mom, was distracted with putting sunscreen on another of her children when Benjamin fell in. Despite there being approximately 40 people in the pool area at the time, no one noticed until it was too late. The only blessing in this is that his organs have been donated to help several other children in desperate need. The memorial service is tomorrow morning here at Resurrection.

Please stop and pray for Linda, her husband Gene, their daughter Laura, her husband Matt, and Benjamin's two brothers Luke (4) and Caleb (10 months). They have a difficult road ahead.

Ian quoted in the WSJ

A few weeks ago when "Ten Things Your IT Department Won't Tell You" was published in the Wall Street Journal and made a big stink in the IT community, Ian e-mailed the author. Imagine his surprise when one of his comments was quoted in a follow-up story last week (see #4 in the article) by the same author. Way to go Ian!

August 23, 2007

Short list getting longer

Sure enough, our short list of ChMS candidates is getting longer before it gets shorter. We're adding ACS. And then there were five.

August 15, 2007

Thanks Tony and Chris

Tony Dye and Chris McGuffin spent an hour on the phone with me today going over detailed plans for the RoundTable. I know our event in October will benefit from the insights they gained from planning and hosting the RoundTable back in April. Thanks Tony and Chris!

If you haven't signed up to come to Kansas City in October, do it now. It's going to be awesome!

August 12, 2007

New ChMS, here we come!

The time has finally arrived for us to begin our Next Generation Church Management System project ("NextGen" for short). We're blessed to have Travis Morgan joining our team half-time this week to serve as project manager. Travis is already on staff at Resurrection as the Director of Operations for Resurrection West. He has brought in a person to cover half his duties at Resurrection West so he can work with us half-time for the next 9 months, or so. He joined the Resurrection West staff a year ago from Cerner, a major player in the hospital software market based here in Kansas City. At Cerner he managed projects to implement their health care information system in hospitals, so he brings a wealth of experience with the issues he will face on this project.

We have our NextGen project kick-off meeting next week and will start with requirements gathering from all ministry departments. Our short list is (in no particular order):

Shelby Arena
Proclaim CRM
Fellowship One

Our plan is to make the system selection by early November with implementation in the first quarter of 2008. Game on!

One of the first issues we are facing is the whole question of Software-as-a-Service vs. traditional buy-software-and-run-it-in-house. As I'm thinking about that, this article caught my eye.

August 11, 2007

Willow Creek Summit, Day 3

Personal highlights from today ...

President Jimmy Carter:

Carter was an entrepreneur from as early as 5 years old. Didn't know that. This was more about Carter's life than a lesson in leadership, but he has earned our respect for his humility and his genuine life of Christian discipleship. I'm inspired. ;-)

Favorite quotes:
  • It's not an anomaly that the Bible says we're all equal in God's sight. We actually are equal.
  • War doesn't beget peace. War begets war. (Not sure if that's right, but I respect his viewpoint.)

Bill Hybels - The power of inspiration:
  • Performance difference between motivated and unmotivated employees - 40%
  • Get inspired and inspiring people around you.
  • Do you know what events you need attend to get inspired?
  • Your workspace can add to your motivation. What do you have in your office?
  • Identify and reduce every demotivating dynamic in the organization.
  • Celebrate every sign of progress.

Willow Creek Summit, Day 2

Personal highlights from today ...

Colin Powell:
  • Promote a clash of ideas - a noisy system.
  • Only people get things done.
  • Any subordinate can come in at any time with any issue, scheduled or not.
  • Optimism is a force multiplier. Things will always look better in the morning.
  • War is a failure of diplomacy and a failure of politics.
  • Even the greatest of all strategies must occasionally take into account the presence of an enemy.
  • Prepare to be lonely.
  • The church shouldn't be hijacked by politics.
  • All of us have a debt of service that we may never be able to repay.

John Ortberg:
  • When was the last time you and your team paused for an extended period of prayer (and maybe even fasting)?
  • My shadow mission is my authentic mission hijacked by ego.

Richard Curtis:
  • I'll ruthlessly do the thing that I do to try to rectify this general injustice (HIV/AIDS).

August 10, 2007

Pictures of the Willow Creek Summit

Ian posted pictures here this morning. Give a shout out if your church is also hosting the Summit and have pictures or stories to share.

August 09, 2007

Willow Creek Summit, Day 1

My personal favorite quotes from today ...

Bill Hybels: "Are you an owner or hired hand?" (referring to John 10:11-15)

Carly Fiorina: "There is a gift in everything that happens to you."

Marcus Buckingham: "A strength is indicated when you do something that makes you feel strong, and you are the greatest authority on what makes you feel strong (not just something you're good at)."

August 07, 2007

Info for vendors coming to the RoundTable

Will vendors be allowed to come to the Fall 2007 RoundTable?

Yes! Vendors are our partners in ministry. They supply most of the technology we use for ministry. We hope to honor them and show our appreciation for their service. Accordingly, we encourage them to attend, participate fully in all the social times, participate fully in the large group sessions, and observe the roundtable sessions. By “observe,” we mean that vendors will not have a seat at table and will not be permitted to speak, but will be able to attend, listen, and learn. We are doing this because we don’t want the RoundTable to become a captive audience for a sales pitch or a forum for vendor debate.

Unlike the Spring 2007 RoundTable, we will not have vendor presentations. Instead, vendors are especially encouraged to participate fully in the Topic Bazaar, planned for 2.5 hours on the last day of the event. Vendors can host discussions, informally demo their products (using laptops and WiFi – no projectors or display tables), and join in discussions hosted by others. We don’t intend for this to morph into a mini trade show, just an opportunity to delve more deeply into topics that have come up during the roundtable sessions.

We're expecting 50-80 church IT people and 10-20 vendors to attend. The only cost to vendors is the normal registration fee of $34 per person.

Vendors that would like to sponsor a meal or support the event in any other way should e-mail me: clif.guy at cor dot org. Vendors shouldn’t feel obligated on this at all. It's just a way to help if they’re so inclined. All sponsorship will be anonymous because we don’t want them to feel any pressure of one-upping each other (like that could happen?!).

And yes, a vendor is a vendor for the purposes of determining who can talk at the roundtable sessions. If you are a consultant or have any kind of product or service to sell to churches, then you’re a vendor. :-)

The Topic Bazaar

The Fall 2007 RoundTable will feature a (bizarre?) innovation - the "Topic Bazaar."

In Houston, Brian noticed that the roundtable sessions went something like this:

1. Topic introduced
2. People around the table began commenting on the topic
3. Very quickly and naturally an informal "expert board" formed - those around the table with experience in the topic
4. If Brian wanted to discuss matters specific to our church, or more extensively than the rest of the group, he would make a mental note of the experts so he could talk with them on a break

We wanted to create a way to facilitate step #4 - the more in-depth conversations on individual topics after the roundtable sessions. So we're introducing an innovation to the upcoming RoundTable: the Topic Bazaar! On Thursday afternoon, after the roundtable sessions are complete, we will have a large open room where multiple topics will be discussed simultaneously. Attendees interested in a particular topic will gather in small clusters scattered throughout the room. The topics and locations will be indicated by signs on tall poles. Possible topics would be things like: "Church Management Systems", "Virtualization", "Security", "Budgeting", etc. Attendees will be able to join a conversation around a topic as long as they like and then move on to another topic. A moderator/expert (could be a vendor) will stay with each topic sign to keep the conversation going.

August 06, 2007

Register for the Fall 2007 RoundTable now!

I'm excited to announce that registration is now open for the Fall 2007 Church IT RoundTable at Church of the Resurrection in Leawood, Kansas October 2-4. The society of church IT is small. Many of us are lonely techies in our congregations where we feel that no one around us really understands what we do or why we do it. We need to hear stories of the awesome work God is doing in all kinds of highly effective churches all over the country. We need a forum for peer learning, mutual support, and inspiration. The Church IT RoundTable (CITRT) is that forum.

The roundtable format was inspired by Mark Stephenson, re-ignited by Jason Powell in September 2006, and taken to the next level by Tony Dye and Chris McGuffin in April 2007. Ask anyone who has attended any of these events and they'll tell you that they were energized by the infusion of knowledge, community, and encouragement. It's difficult to describe the feeling of having dozens of church nerds together in one room. The best metaphor I know for it is "critical mass" - it's a church IT explosion!


For the Fall 2007 RoundTable we’re planning an "unconference" that will retain the strengths of peer sharing but will be scalable to involve many more people than you can fit around one table. This event will feature four separate roundtable rooms with up to 20 participants and a few observers in each room. (I've been told this is similar to the approach taken by Leadership Network, but I've never been to their events so I have to take the word of others on that.)

Each room will have two projectors: one showing content from the conversation in that room, and the other showing content from all of the other rooms. Each participant will use their own laptop to join an Adobe Connect meeting with everyone else in their room. Through Connect, anyone in the room will be able to show content (web sites, pictures, diagrams, PowerPoints, etc.) on the primary projector. All participants will be able to annotate/live blog the discussion and have side conversations. Everyone will be able to interact not only with those in their own room but also with the other rooms through room and conference facilitators who will coordinate the posting of questions and content on the secondary projector. Sean McAtee from UMCOM Tech Shop will be here to provide his deep expertise in the use of Connect with the assistance of Leo Johns from our staff.

Capsule Schedule

Tuesday, Oct. 2: Tour of Resurrection IT - Registration opens at 3:30, tour begins at 4:30 pm, followed by dinner out at a local restaurant

Wednesday, Oct. 3: RoundTable Day 1 - Registration opens at 8:30, event from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm, evening banquet and worship starting at 6:30 pm at the church

Thursday, Oct. 4: RoundTable Day 2 –Event from 8:30 am to 5:00 pm, for those who don't need to rush home we'll have dinner at a local restaurant followed by a worship concert at the church starting at 7:00 pm

After the RoundTable is Resurrection's annual Leadership Institute, October 5-6. Leadership Institute is our biggest conference of the year. If you are able to stay, I know it will be a blessing to you as well.

Cost and Registration

The registration site has complete information about hotels, transportation, and everything else you need to know. Due to generous sponsorship from vendors, the cost is only $34 per person and will qualify you for a great discount on Leadership Institute too. What a deal! For any vendors that would like to attend, additional sponsorship opportunities are available. Please e-mail me for info (clif.guy at cor dot org).

I'm looking forward to seeing you in Kansas City this Fall. Sign up now!

August 04, 2007

I went with the Mogul

Thanks for all the advice. I picked up the Mogul (aka PPC 6800) when I was in Fort Worth and have been using it for a little over two weeks. Having not had a smartphone before, it's a whole new experience for me. Many things about it are cool. Naturally I've encountered a few annoyances too.

Things that are cool:
  • WiFi
  • EVDO with easy Internet connection sharing (phone-as-modem)
  • Ability to run Skype
  • Ease of text messaging
  • Ability to run Bejeweled (my favorite game!)
  • Ability to get on the web anywhere, anytime
  • Integration of Outlook contacts with phone, e-mail, and text messaging functions
  • Ability to recharge through USB
  • Ability to multi-task (sync, talk on the phone, browse the web, etc.)
  • Small and lightweight
Things that are annoying:
  • No way to exit an application without going to a control panel (am I missing something?)
  • ActiveSync has had some issues that caused it to force a complete re-sync and lose my voice dial tags. This has happened twice in two weeks. Grrr!
  • ActiveSync doesn't work when connected via USB on my laptop's port replicator
  • The camera application is clunky
  • The folder structure is confusing - Microsoft still isn't consistent in folder naming
Overall? Thumbs up! I've entered the modern world.

Last vacation post!

I know the vacations of other people are not particularly interesting, but please indulge me just one more post before I return to the usual church IT theme of this blog.

After Big Bend, we proceeded to San Antonio. My son took this picture of Laura and me eating dinner at Casa Rio on the famous San Antonio River Walk. Note the shirt I'm wearing!

From San Antonio, we continued to Galveston, the Gulf of Mexico island community south of Houston at the mouth of Galveston Bay. I took this picture of the beachfront just a block from our motel.

On the way home we stopped at the Oklahoma City National Memorial. Laura took this picture of a statue outside the Catholic church immediately across the street from the site of the destroyed Murrah building. The statue is of a crying Jesus with his back to the site.

So that was our Texas sampler vacation: 3700 miles from Kansas City, via Little Rock to Fort Worth, Big Bend, San Antonio, Galveston, and back home via Oklahoma City. Texas is a HUGE state with an AMAZING variety of cultures and vistas. It's a great vacation destination because it has something for everyone: major cities, remote mountains, the ocean, and Tex-Mex food everywhere!

I will be back in the office on Monday after three weeks away. I must admit, I'm not looking forward to it. Vacation is more fun than work!

August 02, 2007

Off the grid

When General Assembly was over, we proceeded to the next destination on our 2007 driving tour of Texas: Big Bend National Park and the surrounding area. Big Bend, so named for the sweeping curve of the Rio Grande that forms the rounded border between southwest Texas and Mexico, is as little-known as it is spectacular.

We stayed in Terlingua, gateway to the park and famous for the International Chili Championship, held there in November each year. Terlingua, home to fewer than 300 people, is the most remote town I've ever visited. It's not on the way from anywhere to anywhere so everyone there either lives in the area or went there, like us, very much on purpose.

Our accommodations were at the Chisos Mining Co. Motel. I wish I could say I recommend it. We had no phone, no TV, and no Internet service. Terlingua has no digital cell service. And then, to make our "off-the-grid" experience complete, there was a total power outage throughout the entire Lajitas/Terlingua/Study Butte area from 4:00 pm the last evening we were there until 8:00 am the next day just before we checked out. According to the locals, the power there is unreliable. Heh. They claimed power was out everywhere south of Ft. Stockton, but we can't confirm that. At the very best the closest town with power was 70 miles away (Presidio) or 80 miles away (Alpine).

We had to scrounge for dinner since no restaurants could serve and then do our best to sleep with all the windows open since the air conditioning was out. As you can imagine, though dry, Terlingua is a very hot place in late July. It wasn't a pleasant way to end our stay in Terlingua, though I'm sure we'll remember it for a long time.

Did I mention Big Bend is spectacular? Here are a couple of pictures I took:

Rio Grande with Mexican cliffs in the background and Texas to the right of the river

Moon over the Chisos Mountains, taken from our motel in Terlingua

New RoundTable friends

At General Assembly I attended some technology workshops and met three new church IT people.

Christopher Higgins
is the Manager of Internet and New Media for our denominational headquarters. He's responsible for

Nathan Hill is a student at Wesley Theological Seminary and works with youth and young adults for the Christian Church Capital Area Region. He blogs at

Jeff Champeau is an uber-volunteer for First Christian Church of Norman Oklahoma. He makes his living as a LAN/WAN technician for the headquarters of Sonic Drive-in restaurants in Oklahoma City.

I told all of these guys about the Church IT RoundTable. Jeff said he would try to get away from work and come to the Fall RoundTable. Cool! We'd love to have Christopher and Nathan too. The more the merrier!