Regional Church IT Roundtable Event in Florida

Whose Interested?

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)

But When?

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.

Posted in Community, Knowledge Management, Production & Maintenance, Strategy & Planning, Training, Web Ministry
16 comments on “Regional Church IT Roundtable Event in Florida
  1. Mike Gayle says:

    Jason, thank you for taking this step for all of us. Please count me in. Either of the January dates work for me.

    I have a couple of interests:

    1. Shared services that can be provided for other churches that can help them get up and running leveraging our resources/expertise. (e.g. church management)
    2. Shared Disaster Recovery. Instead of having to pay a hosting site, maybe we can help each other out with redundancy. Not great if a huge hurricane hits, but….

  2. Likewise, count me in. We would definitely bring a couple people down for a day or two.

    Mike Gayle and I have both talked before about some of the same topics. I would definitely be interested in the same ideas.

    Other topics I would like to talk on more:

    1. Church legal requirements with regard to IT.
    2. Anything Multi-site

    Very cool, hope this happens.

  3. Clif Guy says:

    Just now tweeted about this. Awesome. Blessings as you reach out to your Florida area church IT colleagues.

  4. Derek Berg says:

    As part of the west coast contingent (of Florida) I too am excited to see this happening. I’ll be happy to help in anyway. If people are not connected with the national Church IT group stop by http://www.citrt.org and check out everything that’s going on.

  5. This CITRT Event is more my style :) Pure IT! I’m open to attending as well. When you firm up the dates and make an announcement, let me know and I will post a note and a reference URL on http://citrt.org

    VOIP may be a good topic to include as a way to recover Voice Communications during a disaster as well. I personally like Asterisk for that topic myself: http://asterisk.org

    Jeffrey Thompson
    jthompsonic@gmail.com
    http://itdiscuss.org

  6. David Bolden says:

    Please count us in. We are grateful for the opportunity to attend.

    David Bolden
    dbolden@idlewild.org

  7. Count me in. Let me know if I can assist in any way…

  8. Derek Berg says:

    No one has said much about the dates but my preference would be the 26th as the 19th is a holiday for schools.

  9. Jason says:

    By my count this makes 9 Florida churches with high interest. Should be plenty for a great conversation. Good catch Derek on the MLK holiday.

    Let me try to finalize the 26th on my end. Then I will make an announcement here first part of next week including the registration link. Everyone good with $50 a head, so long as I give you a good breakfast, lunch, and plenty of fanta & water?

    Derek and I are talking about putting together a little website or page for the event, but it will be a few weeks before that is up and going.

  10. Jack says:

    I’d be interested provided we’re not too far south of the I-4 corridor. I don’t know if anyone else from our church/group of churches would be interested, but I will check. If you can tie it to the MLK holiday, that would be great, but otherwise, January is much better than February.

    Jack L. Wolfgang II
    Volunteer Web Servant
    First Christian Church of Tallahassee

  11. Great idea! You can count ServiceU as a major sponsor given the vast number of customers that we have in the state. Having been to several of the CITRT events, I’d strongly suggest having at least two off-site dinners — that’s where some of the best interaction occurs. The roundtable format makes these events some of the most interesting and beneficial events to attend. Just let me know how we can help!

  12. Jeff Garboden says:

    count me and my team in, for 3 total. I missed last month and have been regretting it. We are up in Ocala, but are willing to travel within the state.
    Thursday, I am attending a regional user Group for Fellowship one and would like to mention it to them. Should I direct them to this site?

  13. Dean Lisenby says:

    Count ACS in to help as needed!

  14. Tony Dye says:

    I know I’m way outside your target area, and have no idea what my calendar will look like come January, but if you’ll allow for remote visitors, I’d love to come hang out, and even help if there’s any way I could do that. Anything that helps move CITRT idea forward is worth a trip for me… Thanks for all your efforts in this!

  15. Jason says:

    Just an update guys. I had to submit a budget for the event to show we could pay for it through vendor sponsors at $500 and per attendee price of $50. I hope to hear something back Wednesday of this week.

  16. Jason says:

    Still waiting on the stamp of approval, but all things seem to be a go.

    Extending a gratis invitation to Tony Dye, Jason Powell, and Clif guy in case they would like to roll in and help run this thing. Those are the only non-florida folks I think we’ll bring in the fold unless some high-powered CIO/CTO wants to come keynote for free (Chick-fil-a CIO?). We should have more than enough Florida churches to fill the break-out rooms with chatter and plug our bandwidth up good. I suppose if there are some folks from some of the islands that are in large churches, we’ll make an exception for them since they probably have thought more about disaster recovery than we ever will.

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