This blog post is to gauge interest in a Florida Regional Church IT Roundtable event. We seem to have a group in the Tampa area and others along the East coast of Florida from Orlando to Miami. Redundancy could be a good thing, so let’s talk it out in the comments below about what everyone is looking for, if people are willing to drive, and what the focus could possibly be for the event. Whether we land on two gatherings or one, I think it would be good for Florida churches to represent better through some networking, fellowship, and knowledge-sharing.
A Couple Options
I have tentative approval from Christ Fellowship leadership to host a regional event in January on our main campus. If you are unfamiliar with this type of an event and this loose coalition of geeks, here are the topics of discussion they meet on periodically in regional and national meet-ups. Since next year appears to be a tight year financially for many of us, I thought a low-cost training opportunity (typically $50 per person including 2 meals) might be of interest across the many disciplines of Church IT (Websites, Network, Information Systems). We could decide to include vendors in this gathering or not. I tend to want to hold it to just a few sponsor companies ($500+ donation in cash or hardware for give-aways?) so the focus stays on the community of churches. Then again, many of us use contract labor to augment our full-time staff, and they probably should be equally as welcome.
Large Potential Participation
There are roughly 500 churches of size in Florida that might be interested in such an event, including 11 of the largest 100 churches in America. I feel that if we can get participation confirmation from a few influential churches in Florida, many of the other churches interest will rise and our event marketing will go that much easier. For this type of unconference event, you need a broad perspective and so the more participation the better. I think the maximum number of participants my church could reasonably host would be 200 people. Most other regional IT Roundtables call 15-30 people a huge success so I am not that worried about having more people than we can all connect with.
My Thoughts on Focus
In thinking about this since the Fall ’07 Roundtable at COR, I have been feeling a strong desire for the focus of this first gathering to be on Disaster Preparation/Recovery/Response, Storage and Backups, and Network/System Monitoring/Reporting. Agenda is driven by the participants, but these items seem to have a uniquely Florida focus to them that we may not cover as in depth at a national roundtable event.
Kevin McCord of Oasis church shared with me his thoughts by email:
I would propose having that topic with a fairly broad scope. In a world with hurricanes, arson, and terrorism the following could well become just as important to the disaster response and recovery:
- Internet Campuses (for when the church building is unavailable)
- 3rd Party Hosting to Supporting Web Applications (through disasters)
- Moving to Gmail/Google Aps (they have your data)
- IT support in a multi-site environment (some disasters are campus specific)
I am thinking Monday January 19th or the 26th might work great since it is after the weekend and pastoral staff take off Mondays at many of the churches. This might also give those who want to drive in on Sunday an opportunity to worship together and then go tour some of the larger churches along the east coast to see what they have going on.
Ok, So Now What?
If you are at a Florida church working in IT or Web, please let us all know what you think about the idea. If you have connections with other churches with IT leaders, feel free to check-in with them to see if the event seems like it would be of value for their staffs. I hope we’ll narrow down a day/date quickly and start preparing. If someone else wants to head this up and drive it, I am happy for that to happen as well. Just want to see it happen! So, everyone jump in here and let us know if you want to participate, when works best, and how many people you might bring.