September 30, 2007

Planter in residence

Speaking of renewal strategies, I think Mark Batterson's idea about a "church planter in residence" program is right on the money. We need a good way to use our resources to support church planters and make them more effective.

Mainline renewal

One of Church of the Resurrection's three primary visions is renewing the mainline church. For those of you who have never heard the term "mainline" it generally refers to long-established denominations with moderate theology. It includes the following seven denominations and others like them: Episcopal, Lutheran, Methodist, Presbyterian, United Church of Christ, Disciples of Christ, and American Baptist.

These denominations, including Methodist, have been declining since the 1960s. When you take a hard look at the numbers, it's depressing. Of the mainline denominations, the largest is Methodist. And Resurrection is among the largest Methodist congregations. So we have a special heart for these denominations and their congregations. We long to see them remember their calling, reverse their decline, and return to missional effectiveness.

My wife is a Disciples of Christ (DOC) church planter. Because of that, I'm privileged to see the DOC's 6 year-old church planting initiative from the inside. This initiative has been very effective, to the point that it's starting to have a real, positive impact denomination-wide. A few years ago I was personally involved in efforts to revitalize a 60 year-old DOC church. Let me tell you, that was difficult work and it produced only minimal fruit. While church planting is very, very challenging, the DOC experience suggests it is a better strategy for denominational renewal than any program I've seen for revitalizing existing congregations.

Up to now, Resurrection's primary mainline renewal effort has been our conferencing ministry. We hold one main conference each year, Leadership Institute, and host a number of other conferences for the Methodist denomination and other mainline groups such as the Beeson Institute of Asbury Seminary. This is a great ministry and I'm certain it has produced some excellent fruit, yet it seems to me that church planting will be even more important in fulfilling our mainline renewal vision.

Last year, we began by starting our first satellite campus, Resurrection West. Just a few weeks ago, our senior pastor, Adam Hamilton, asked me to start working on plans for an Internet Campus for Resurrection, as one of several other satellite campus locations we are planning. I'm very excited about this, but I also recognize a number of huge challenges. I'll continue to post and, no doubt, ask questions as we work through the issues. Any of you with experience doing an Internet campus, let me know. I'm very interested to hear your strategy and how it's going.

September 29, 2007

Tuesday plans

Many of you coming to the RoundTable from outside the Kansas City area will be arriving through the day on Tuesday. If you're making plans for what to do when you arrive, here are some things to consider ...

Check in time for both conference hotels is 3:00 pm. If your arriving early afternoon, you can go to your hotel, check-in and then come to the church. Our official welcome starts at 3:30, followed by a campus tour around 4:30.

If you are arriving earlier in the day, you're welcome to come hang out at the church. Be aware though that in addition to the RoundTable, we're hosting our biggest conference of the year next week. So if you come early, expect us to put you to work!

If you are arriving too late to make the tour, we're having dinner at a restaurant close to the church at 7:00 pm. You can go straight there and join us.

Sunset Grill
14577 Metcalf Ave
Overland Park, KS 66223
Google map is here
Call my cell at 913-642-1875 if you get lost!

Transportation needs

If any of you coming to the RoundTable could help with the following transportation needs, please post a comment and we'll hook you up. Thanks!

Andrew Lang needs a ride back to the airport. His flight leaves Thursday night at 7:40 pm (will need to leave the church around 5:45 pm to make it in time).

David Szpunar needs a ride to the church from the airport. His flight arrives Tuesday morning at 8:20 am.

David Szpunar needs a ride back to the airport. His flight leaves Friday morning at 9:00 am (will need to leave the hotel around 7:00 am to make it in time).

September 27, 2007

RoundTable sponsors

We would like to gratefully acknowledge our Fall 2007 RoundTable sponsors: ACS Technologies, The ACTS Group, Fellowship Technologies, and Shelby Systems. Their generous support has allowed us to cover all conference expenses including all meals while keeping the registration fee to only $34. When you see them, please express your appreciation. We couldn't do this event without them.

Help Jason with his presentation!

Can you hep a brotha out? Jason Powell will be presenting at the RoundTable on the survey data he has gathered from church IT departments around the country. This will be a very informative session that will allow you to benchmark your church's IT operation against those of many churches of different sizes, locations, ages, denominations, and budgets. But to do that, he needs all of you to fill out the survey (especially those of you coming to the RoundTable).

So please, right now, go to and follow the directions from there. This data is going to be very helpful for all of us and will definitely help Jason with his presentation!

RoundTable schedule

Here is the schedule for the RoundTable next week.

Tuesday, Oct. 2 - Pre-RoundTable
3:30 PM Registration open - welcome and refreshments
4:15 PM Resurrection IT overview
4:30 PM Facility/IT tour
7:00 PM Sponsored restaurant dinner (optional)

Wednesday, Oct. 3 - RoundTable Day 1
8:30 AM Registration open - welcome and coffee
9:00 AM Large group opening session - explanation and instructions
9:45 AM Break
10:00 AM Roundtable session 1
12:15 PM Lunch (sponsored)
1:30 PM Roundtable session 2
3:45 PM Break
4:15 PM Large group session 2 - Q&A with Adam Hamilton, Senior Pastor
5:00 PM Video - Leadership: An Art of Possibility
5:30 PM Break
6:00 PM Sponsored banquet
7:00 PM Worship
8:00 PM Hang out time until 11:00 pm

Thursday, Oct. 4 - RoundTable Day 2
8:30 AM Gathering and coffee
9:00 AM Large group session 3 - Jason Powell
9:45 AM Break
10:00 AM Roundtable session 3
11:45 AM Lunch (sponsored)
1:00 PM Topic Bazaar
3:30 PM Break
4:00 PM Large group closing session - Tony Dye
5:30 PM Sponsored restaurant dinner (optional)
7:00 PM Worship concert (optional)

Friday, Oct. 5 - Leadership Institute Day 1
Saturday, Oct. 6 - Leadership Institute Day 2

Wednesday night at the RoundTable

We have planned a very special experience for Wednesday evening at the RoundTable. It will be an oasis of quiet meditation and prayer in the middle of an otherwise brain-overloaded event. Personally, of everything we've planned, I'm looking forward to Wednesday evening the most.

We will begin with a candlelit banquet of the best barbecue in Kansas City. Then the band from my wife's church, Fusion 112, will lead us in a time of intense, unplugged worship. We have chosen songs that many of you will know and are easy to learn if you don't know them. My wife, Laura, will then bring a message based on 1 Sam 17:38-39 about David not being comfortable in Saul's armor. It will be powerful and inspiring. After that we will share communion and have an opportunity to pray with each other and linger as long as we like. Nothing will be hurried or rushed.

It will be a time to pause, to remember who we are and whose we are, to forge deeper bonds with our church IT brothers and sisters, and to make sure the main thing is the main thing. I can't wait!

September 22, 2007

ChMS selection goals

As we go through our NextGen ChMS project, I find myself torn by the competing demands of multiple important goals:
  1. Speak openly and candidly about my thoughts on ChMS (church management systems) in an effort to help my fellow church IT leaders and the ChMS suppliers.
  2. Build up the competing suppliers, treat all of them with respect, and ultimately bless them whether or not they sell us anything.
  3. Thoroughly examine and give careful consideration to each of the suppliers on our short list.
  4. Avoid wasting anyone’s time, insofar as that is possible.
  5. Ensure that our user community doesn’t lose any important functionality they now rely upon in Shelby V5 Church.
  6. Achieve executive management’s desired result – to greatly improve our ability to track interactions with congregants (CRM-type functionality) and to provide better reporting/graphing for decision support (management dashboard).
  7. Obtain as much “wish list” functionality as possible.
  8. Stay within my established budget and time line.
  9. Select a great company with great technology, products, and support that we can stick with for the next 5-10 years.
There! What’s so difficult about that???

September 21, 2007

Thanks Hal, Ben, Robin, Dean, Pattie, Steve, and ... everyone!

I'm back in the Charlotte airport on my way home after spending last night and today with the senior management team of ACS Technologies. I mentioned that I was having dinner with Robin and Ben last night. I didn't know that Hal Campbell, President of ACS would also be joining us. Hal is a humble man who has built an outstanding company. The restaurant was a bit loud but the food was good and the conversation was excellent. It was a fun way to begin a relationship with them.

Robin is VERY well organized. She took care of all of the details of our meeting today, which included the same people from last night as well as RoundTable buddy Dean Lisenby, Pattie White, Steve Cumbia, Cindy Street and several others.

I'm glad I corrected my previous error and put ACS on our short list. We talked for more than 7 hours and never once did a product demo - my kind of meeting! I was very favorably impressed by the company. Like my meetings with Shelby and Fellowship Technologies last year, I quite appreciated the openness of the exchange. They graciously allowed me to challenge them as though we had been friends for years. Better yet, they challenged me back with some clear-headed responses. That's cool!

Pattie did wonder aloud if I might be high maintenance. My wife might affirm that speculation, I fear. ;-) Patti's concern was whether I would allow my dissatisfaction with the structure of the ChMS marketplace to stand in the way of making progress on Resurrection's real needs right now. I assured her that Resurrection's here-and-now concerns were very much on my mind, otherwise I would not have made the trip. That said, when I have the attention of the top management of the top company in the market, I won't be shy to cast a vision of a future different from present reality. And I might choose to go another direction if I think it is more likely to get Resurrection to my preferred future more quickly. Did I mention this would be a tough decision?

I'm grateful to say I now have a bunch of smart friends in Florence, South Carolina, whether or not Resurrection becomes their customer. I have Florence on my mind ...

September 20, 2007

Who is coming?

So far we have a total of 60 people from the following organizations registered for the RoundTable.

Church of the Resurrection, Leawood, KS
Asbury United Methodist Church, Tulsa, OK
Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis, MN
Christ Fellowship Church, Palm Beach Gardens, FL
Churches in Covenant, Carrollton, TX
College Heights Christian Church, Joplin, MO
First Baptist Church, Atlanta, GA
First Baptist Raytown, Raytown, MO
First Presbyterian Church, Bellevue, WA
First United Methodist Church, Wichita, KS
Grace Covenant Church, Cornelius, NC
Granger Community Church, Granger, IN
Indian Creek Community Church, Olathe, KS
Lakeview Church, Indianapolis, IN
Lincoln Berean Church, Lincoln, NE
Living Word Lutheran Church, Grapevine, TX
Northwoods Community Church, Peoria, IL
Perimeter Church, Duluth, GA
Pinelake Church, Brandon, MS
Pleasant Valley Baptist Church, Liberty, MO
Seacoast Church, Mt. Pleasant, SC
Sheffield Family Life Center, Kansas City, MO
St. Mark Coptic Orthodox Church, Fairfax, VA
St. Michael the Archangel Catholic Church, Leawood, KS
West Side Christian Church, Springfield, IL
Westbrooke Church, Shawnee Mission, KS

ACS Technologies, Florence, SC
Circle Builder, Santa Monica, CA
Fellowship Technologies, Irving, TX
iBiz Initiatives, Lenexa, KS
MBS, Inc., Huntington Beach, CA
Ministry Management Solutions, Orange Park, FL
Shelby Systems, Cordova, TN
The ACTS Group, Houston, TX
United Methodist Communications Tech Shop, Nashville, TN

Other (not a church, not a vendor):
Trinity Technology for Ministry, Kansas City, MO
Christian Computing Magazine, Belton, MO, Edmond, OK

Dinner with Alfred; Dinner with Robin and Ben

Last night I had dinner with Alfred Johnson, head of sales and marketing for Shelby Systems. He flew in to Kansas City just to spend a few hours with me. I took him to the quintessential barbecue place of Kansas City - Arthur Bryant's. Alfred could eat only half his sandwich. Yes, the beef sandwiches at Arthur Bryant's really are that big! It's ridiculous.

Sounds like Arena is coming along nicely. I'm not sure how much of our conversation I'm at liberty to discuss but I can say that Alfred has Web 2.0 and social networking on his mind.
I'm wondering if Dave Winer is right (see this and this). Will Twitter become a de facto standard for identity on the web? If so, could that eventually allow ChMS providers to integrate seamlessly with things like Facebook and Circle Builder? Hmmm ...

I'm writing this post from the Charlotte airport. Tonight I'm having dinner with Robin Clayton and Ben Jordan of ACS Technologies. Then I'm visiting ACS all day tomorrow to talk strategy. Standby for a report on that trip.

September 19, 2007

GodTube update

Brent Cohen e-mailed me a link to this story on CNN saying that GodTube was the "#1 Fastest Growing Website in U.S. in 1st month of Launch." I commented about GodTube back in March. Do you suppose my less-than-favorable comments were a bit too hasty?

I know most of you out there reading this blog must also be wrestling with the question of how to leverage all of these new developments in Web 2.0 stuff. In particular, right now we're implementing for streaming sermons. Instead of going where the Christians are, we're using a secular site. What are your thoughts about that? Should we also use GodTube?

Hotel deadline

The deadline for hotel registration to get the RoundTable rate is tomorrow for the Wyndham. The deadline has already passed for the Holiday Inn.

September 18, 2007

How about a ride in a church van!

RoundTable attendee, Kansas City-area church nerd, and all around nice guy Jason Wilson has obtained his church van to help transport people to/from hotels and Resurrection. We also have other local church IT people who have volunteered to make a few runs back and forth to the airport. So if you need transportation while you're here, please leave a comment on this post and we'll see what we can do to arrange it.

Registration closes in 6 days

If you're coming to the RoundTable, you best be gettin' your registration in. Registration closes at the end of the day Monday, September 24.

Topics for the RoundTable

The RoundTable is in two weeks! We need to start collecting topics now so we can get organized a bit in advance. Give me your ideas by commenting on this post. To jump-start your thinking, here are some posts by Tony Dye about what was discussed the last time:

What burning questions do you have for your fellow church IT people?

September 15, 2007

Nearly impossible to reach by phone

Travis, Brian, and I are now in the thick of preparing our RFP to upgrade our Church Management System. We are in back-to-back meetings all day long, conducting requirements gathering interviews and getting demos from the short list vendors, not to mention planning a little event and trying to keep up with routine duties.

If you have tried to reach me by phone in the last couple of weeks, you have my sympathies. I strongly suggest e-mail to clif.guy at as a better way to get a response. Even then, it might be a few days before you hear back. Sorry to be such a pain.

To discuss anything about the RoundTable, contact Amy Facemire at 913-544-0743 or amy.facemire at

To discuss anything about our Next Generation ChMS project, contact Travis Morgan at 913-314-6464 or travis.morgan at

One interesting dude

To learn how a Jew from Kansas City worked with an archbishop from Baltimore to build a web site for the pope, you need to attend the RoundTable where you'll meet Brent Cohen.

Although that sounds like the setup for a joke, it's the true story of Brent receiving a phone call in 1995 from Cardinal Keeler, then Archbishop of Baltimore, leading to an ecumenical collaboration and culminating not only in a web site being built but also an opportunity for Brent to meet John Paul II in person.

If that story doesn't interest you, ask Brent about how Haley Barbour (now governor of Mississippi but then chairman of the Republican National Committee) at first didn't see a need for the RNC to have a web site. No doubt Joe Trippi would be highly amused. Brent did end up building the first site for the RNC after Haley saw the light a couple of years later and called Brent.

I was entertained by these stories over lunch with Brent on Wednesday. He now lives in the Los Angeles area, but was born and raised in Kansas City. He was back in town for a family reunion during Rosh Hashanah. He is a strategic thinker and friend of Rick Warren and Eric Busby and is beginning to explore church IT, ChMS, and how they relate to his new company, Circle Builder. You will enjoy meeting Brent and likewise he wants to learn as much as he can from all of you.

If you haven't registered for the RoundTable, do it now. Registration closes at the end of the day Monday, September 24.

September 12, 2007

Vendors coming to the RoundTable

Appian Way reader and RoundTable attendee Justin Kramp asks:
Clif -- Thanks for putting so much effort into this. I'm really excited for the event. Any chance you'd post a list of vendors participating in advance?
Great question, Justin!

Vendors that have registered so far are:
United Methodist Communications Tech Shop
ACS Technologies
Circle Builder
Fellowship Technologies
MBS, Inc.
Ministry Management Solutions
Shelby Systems
The ACTS Group

September 07, 2007

RoundTable registrations

I heard through the grapevine that some of you tried to register for the RoundTable but the registration site was down. Sorry about that. When we came in to the office on Tuesday after the holiday weekend we saw the site was down. We don't know when over the long weekend it went down. It took our vendor a couple of hours on Tuesday morning to resolve the issues and get things working again. If you tried to register but were denied, please try again. You don't want to miss the RoundTable because of a server outage. Computer geeks, of all people, should understand that!

So far 32 awesome church IT people and 10 amazing vendor people from around the country have registered. Wee hoo! We have heard from another 28 who said they are coming but haven't registered yet. Come on and register, please! It's difficult to complete our preparations when the event is only 3 weeks away and we don't know if we will have 50 people or 80 people. ;-)

So that we can get final counts to our caterers, etc., registration will close at the end of the day on Monday, September 24. Register now!

September 05, 2007

RoundTable walkers?

Tony is organizing an early morning walk before the start of each day's RoundTable. If you're a morning person, let Tony know of your interest by posting a comment on his blog.

Local Organizing Committee

Calling all my Kansas City area church IT homies. You are my "Local Organizing Committee" for the RoundTable. We need to meet next week to finalize plans. How about Thursday, Sept. 13 at 12:30 pm? How about Chili's in Merriam again? Leave a comment here or e-mail me: clif.guy at

Transportation between airport and hotels

Some people have asked about getting from KCI Airport to the hotel and/or church and then back to the airport at the end of the RoundTable.

The hotels we have arranged don't have shuttle service. However, there is a KCI Shuttle that operates between the airport and many hotels here in the southern part of the metro area (Johnson County). To use this service, simply stop by KCI Shuttle’s ticket counter, which is in close proximity to all baggage claim areas in the airport, to purchase a ride to your hotel. Advance reservations are not required but are recommended if arrival time is after 9pm. Cost is $49 per person (each way); each additional person within the same party is then $7 to $10 ea. (each way). When buying your ticket you can schedule your pickup, too. KCI Shuttle’s phone number is 816-243-5000.

The hotels are 4-5 miles from the church. We want to bless you, serve you, and ensure that you have a great time when you're here. In that spirit, I'm happy to help you get back and forth between the hotel and the church, but with 60 people coming in, I can't fit you all in my van in one trip! Hopefully, only a few of you will need a ride. ;-)

September 03, 2007

Directions to Church of the Resurrection

Most of you coming to the RoundTable will be flying in. The nearest airport is Kansas City International (code=MCI). The airport is on the far northwest side of town and we're on the south side, so it's a 45 minute drive with moderate traffic.

Directions from the airport:
South on I29
South on I635 (right exit)
South on I35 (right exit)
South on US69 (right exit after 75th street)
East on 135th street (right exit, then turn left on 135th) approx. 2.5 miles
South on Roe 2 blocks, church is on the right

Google map with directions is here.

Park in Lot B or Lot D. Campus map here, or print this post.

Enter the East Building near the SE corner. You'll find the receptionists at the crossroads between the main east-west hallway and the main north-south hallway, next to the Memorial Garden. They will direct you from there. East Building floor plan is here (on the floor plan drawing ground floor is on the left, lower level is on the right). Conference check-in will be in the hallway outside Rehearsal Hall A on the lower level. It's a big, confusing building. We'll have signs up to help you as much as we can.

Hotel info for the RoundTable

The hotel info is provided in the confirmation e-mail after registering, but some people have requested the info prior to registering. So here goes ...

Holiday Inn Hotel & Suites – Convention Center
10920 Nall Ave.
Overland Park, KS 66211
913-312-0900 phone
913-312-5992 fax
Check-in time is 3:00 p.m. Check-out time is 12:00 p.m.
Rate = $90.00
Reservations must be made by 9/7/07 in order to receive the $90.00 rate. Ask for the “I.T. Roundtable Conference - Church of the Resurrection” block of rooms.

Wyndham Garden Hotel – Overland Park
7000 W. 108th St.
Overland Park, KS 66211
913-383-2550 phone
913-383-2099 fax
Check-in time is 3:00 p.m. Check-out time is 12:00 p.m.
Rate = $74.00, no breakfast (or $84.00 with breakfast)
Reservations must be made by 9/20/07 in order to receive the $74.00 rate. Ask for the “I.T. Roundtable Conference - Church of the Resurrection” block of rooms.

Or you could always go the Priceline route, like Mark.

September 02, 2007

Ian eats noodles with Jason Powell

... after worshiping at Granger this morning. He reports that the experience was "phenomenal" and "WOW". Thanks, Jason for your hospitality!

And what vacation trip to the Chicago/Northern Indiana area would be complete without a tour of Willow Creek? Thanks Mark and Brett.

Get the details in his full trip report here.