Archive for the 'church it' Category

Published by Brian Slezak on 07 Oct 2009

RefreshCache Reflections

This week I had the honor to attend RefreshCache, the first annual Arena developers meeting. It inspired me to post on my blog after a long, long hiatus.

Having the opportunity to interact with some of the most talented and God loving software developers and thinkers is beyond words. The event was inspiring in of itself, but there were some great highlights.

I was inspired by the hospitality of Nick Airdo and his family, and Nick’s leadership. Nick talked me into staying at his place rather than holing up in a nearby hotel, and I was blessed by that. Nick’s leadership within the Arena community impacts people deeper than he realizes, and we are all thankful for the spirit and energy he brings.

I was inspired by Jon Edmiston and the vision he brings to community software development. His gifts as a visionary are a blessing to this band of developers, and I wait in anticipation for the fruits the upcoming projects will produce.

I was inspired by each individual that attended, and by the sheer fact that God has stationed every one of us in this particular community, and with individual skills that combine to create something greater than each of us.

It was impossible not to take away a great deal more knowledge than one came with. One can not replace the power of physical presence and person-to-person interaction and learning. The off-the-cuff topics that spiral into deep learning opportunies are highly valuable. I enjoyed the ability to commiserate with my peers about common frustrations, as well as celebrate in successes. This was invaluable.

I am thankful for the blessing and direction God has provided in my life, for how He has brought me across a path to this place, gifting me uniquely in the circles I now find myself.

I am thankful for the Arena developer community.

Published by Brian Slezak on 07 Mar 2009

Online Church Fear

I’ve become very bad about reading anything, but Clif put up a post that sparked my interest and it actually sparked a post of my own. I read some of the other posts Clif linked to, and I recognized some old rhetoric applied to a new subject. The new subject is online communities, with the old rhetoric being how destructive “online church” could be to Christian community.

The old rhetoric, believe it or not, was aimed at sermons available via on-demand audio and video. I read posts and heard conversations about how this enabled people to sit at home and watch the sermons rather than “going to church!” People were essentially asking, “What if people stop coming to church,” or to freshen this question, “What if people stop having a full and authentic Christian life?”

Mutant Sub-ChristianMy opinion is that this thinking is founded in fear. Fear that providing a church experience consumed while sitting at home will create some new sub-human mutant race of almost-Christians with hideous skin quality and large eyes adapted to viewing 320×200 video in low light who sit around in tattered underwear. Aaaaahhh!

I am certain that just as many people were fearful of projectors in the sanctuary and on demand audio streams as are now fearful of churches providing fuller online experiences.

So what have churches learned from providing sermons online? I can tell you that Resurrection has found that it reaches people in ways no one could have ever imagined. People around the world, not just in the nearby state, are able to connect to a Christian message and find the narrow path, some for the first time. I wish I could post the hundreds of positive, uplifting thanks we have received by providing this service.

I will suggest that if you are out there discussing the negative ramifications of providing church experiences online, you must recognize that you can not imagine all the amazing and powerful ways God may use that experience.

Acts 5:38-39 – “Therefore, in the present case I advise you: Leave these people alone! Let them go! For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these people; you will only find yourselves fighting against God.”

I admit that fear aside, the remaining question needing an answer is whether an authentic community born and maintained solely online can be a theologically grounded authentic Christian community. If inauthentic online Christian communities could exist, should we be paralyzed with fear that they might happen? Can’t they be horribly inauthentic offline as well?? What might also happen is that God uses those experiences in profound ways that we could have never imagined. Do this for godly purposes, not human purposes. Leave the imaginary sub-human mutant Christians behind and hand it over to God to throw down or lift up.

Published by Brian Slezak on 16 Jan 2009

Steal-Proofing IT Stuff

Steal-proof Cable

Steal-proof Cable

Ok, I have to brag on my co-worker a bit, because I can’t get him to blog on this himself. This morning I came in to find one of extra long networking cables outside our office door. How did you get that returned, you may ask? Why did it not walk away, but get returned outside your office door? Pictures are worth a thousand words.

Let’s break down how Jeremy steal-proofed this girly bad boy. 1. He used a displeasing color. Few people look at a nearly flourescent pink cable and think, “Oh I gotta have that.” 2. He terminated the ends with jacks, not plugs. Looking at it, the novice would surmise that won’t work for them. 3. He finished the cable with ridiculously short jumpers, which no one in their right mind really needs. “Ooo, that would work perfect for my … nothing?”

Evil Genius at Work

Evil Genius at Work

Published by Brian Slezak on 06 Oct 2008

Church Tours, and CITRT

This week I have returned to writing after hiatus. A return prompted by my trip to the CITRT held at Seacost Church in Charleston SC. I am joined by Clif Guy and Jeremy Grabrian from our team at Church of the Resurrection, as well as Jeremie Kilgore . For more links, because I’m incredibly lazy and Clif did all the work for me, see Clif’s post. 🙂

For your enjoyment, I’ve been tweeting only the pointless and mundane events as they happen. :-/ Hopefully I’ll have more interesting stuff as I get back into the swing of this. [Update] But at least it’s not as boring as what JKilgore is doing on 12 seconds. C’mon man, your world can’t revolve around Tony Dye. 😉

Tonight we toured Johnson Ferry Baptist Church. Their network was highly impressive, with a lot of enterprise class hardware in it. It seemed way over engineered, but their network admin said they were overloading the previous gear.

If you a reader here, watch my twitter and blog for more updates of the conference throughout this week and next.

Published by Brian Slezak on 12 Jun 2008

How to Score the Church IT Job

Catching up some reading, I came across Jim’s post about God leading him in his life right now. I decided to give my own advice on scoring the Church IT job:

  1. Know what you’re getting into
  2. Just be yourself through the entire process
  3. Hand it over to God

Nearly 7 years ago from now, I was chosen for an entry level IT position at Church of the Resurrection. I was at the end of my rope. I was 2 weeks away from packing my vehicle and driving home to live in the parents basement because the .com bubble popped, the IT industry crashed, no one was hiring, and I had no money left.

I honestly walked into the interviews at Resurrection not caring what happened, or what they thought. I wasn’t going to try to wow them or try too hard, I had decided I was just going to be me and nothing else. That was either good enough, or it wasn’t. Don’t get me wrong though; I was in good spirits, and laughed and enjoyed the process. I did not sit there yawning and scratching my backside. I simply wasn’t concerned about whether I was the one or not, because I had already handed everything in my life over to God.

I was later told, after being hired, that I was by far the best interviewee of that position. …. 😮 I remember thinking, “That’s funny, because at that point I could not have cared less about that!” Simply stated, I attribute this to my second and third point above.

So FWIW, that’s my advice, good and bad. Point number one from above is important, and I listed it first because nearly 7 years ago … I wish I had been better informed. Hahah! I still would have taken the job, but it would have saved me from the great mental anguish of learning the hard way!

Published by Brian Slezak on 04 Apr 2008

You Can Not Stop Nerds

Ok, I had to do it. Our fearless leader Clif is at MinistryTECH in Oklahoma City as I type this blog post. My cohort in this was Ian, who is there with Clif. Ian was able to set up a webcam in short order and stream Clif to U-Stream:

To the upper right is a shot from my camera phone. This is a projected image on a wall in our training room back in Leawood, KS. Clif is larger than life!

So to sum up – yeah I posted on Clif’s presentation in Oklahoma City before he was even finished, watching from Leawood, KS. 🙂

Given even simple technology – you can’t stop nerds from getting creative and participating, even if we don’t get to be there in person.

Published by Brian Slezak on 09 Oct 2007

The Ministry of Information Technology?

One of the topics that permeated both the Spring and Fall CITRT (Church IT RoundTable) events was whether Information Technology in the church is a ministry. For some, the answer to that was simply yes, while many seemed unsure, and a few others said no.

As I typed this post, I was sitting in a Q&A session with my boss, Clif Guy, and his boss, Brent Messick. Brent is the executive director over operations, one of two executive directors at Resurrection. We were there with a group of interested guests, who were visiting in connection with Leadership Institute, a leadership event Resurrection holds annually. Without my prompting, this topic came up! Brent mentioned that some people have asked if he considers operations a ministry. Brent restated his answer to us, “It is a ministry. Absolutely. I say that unabashedly!” He marked some obvious points of contact such as guest services or finance.

Here’s how I’ve thought about it. If work roles that support ministry are inherently ministry, such as information technology roles, then where does ministry stop? Are the vendors who sell us equipment and supplies performing ministry? Without vendors we couldn’t perform ministries the same way right? Banks. Are banks performing ministry when they assist finance to get invoices and salaries paid? Is supporting ministry inherently ministry too? Or is work a ministry only when it directly impacts the lives of people, such as discipleship and service? It seems to come down to the interpretation of ministry and where you draw the line.

Published by Brian Slezak on 05 Oct 2007

Truly a Blessing

Much like my friends at Resurrection, Clif, Ian, I was filled to overflowing by the opportunity and honor of serving, shepherding, and worshiping with our CITRT ministry partners. It was a blessing to me! There was no one thing during our time together that made the event; it was the event in whole. Being able to host all who attended brought me back to my core of being the servant, being the shepherd, doing everything I could to bless everyone’s time and let God work through me. I think everyone on our team experienced scripture lived out. Isaiah 40:31 😉

I just wanted to say a heartfelt thanks to all, and I’m eager to build new relationships, and continue to renew the existing.

Published by Brian Slezak on 01 May 2007

Spring Church IT Round Table – Round Table Day

I’ve been quite the slacker in blogging this, but better late than never eh?

The round table was a great experience. In short it was about 30 guys seated around folding tables, and discuss we did. The dynamic of the round table went like this. A topic was thrown out and an expert board was formed on the fly. Expert board = the guys and gals that had worked around that topic a great deal. People would ask the board questions, the board would question or concur with each other, and great value was gained by everyone in the room. I thought it was a well-balanced event between free-flow conversation and a structured discussion.

The best analysis I’ve seen, gathered from feedback of the event, was Tony’s summary of what everyone wants. As Resurrection is hosting the Fall event this year, I had walked around the crowd during breaks and sampled feedback on what we should do next – I came to the exact same conclusion as Tony. “Keep it small, but include more people.” Sorry boys and girls – some of you are gonna have to take one for the team. 🙂 In all seriousness, “taking one for the team” is exactly what we want to avoid.

Not to beat a dead horse, but if you haven’t given feedback on our idea of how to truly tackle “small but more people,” take a look at the invite Clif posted and let us know.

Overall, the spring round table was an unparalleled experience. Every individual was great, and they inspired me. The conversations in the hall, and the more structured times blended well. I would hope that if you are in the ministry of church I.T., yes it is a ministry, you have the opportunity to make one of the future round tables and be fed, have your tank filled, or other appropriate metaphor. 😉

Props to all my church I.T. brethren, it was a pleasure and will be again.

Published by Brian Slezak on 16 Apr 2007

Spring Church IT Roundtable

I neglected to mention in my first post that today we are being hosted by Sugar Creek Baptist Church,, at the LYF youth center. Our hosts were very gracious, and I want to thank them for opening up their facility and catering to us. (Image to right is an X-Box array for youth.)

Today we heard from many Vendors and consultants ranging from VMWare, ScriptLogic, DataCore, Service-U and Web Empowered Church.

I was familiar with VMWare and Service-U, and obviously Web Empowered Church, but the other two I’d never heard of before. DataCore is a mind expanding virtualization software that virtualizes your SAN or slack disk space across multiple servers, and synchronizing between virtual storage. I’d have to think about that more, but one thing that is potentially big for churches is synchronizing virtual storage between geographically distributed locations. What we were told was that you can synchronize between 8 different locations. So if multiple churches are using DataCore and have unused disk space, they can use each other as back up locations. Potentially pretty cool.

ScriptLogic produces a toolset of automation and management applications that makes nearly everything in Windows system administration easier. Active Directory users, GPOs auditing and alerting, patching, spyware, file permissions and ACLs, USB port security, MSI packaging, system imaging and software distribution, and file system level auditing. I’m excited about the potential of using ScriptLogic apps in our environment because it is easily powerful enough to make up for a half time network admin guy or more, and our network guy would salivate all over his shirt to have these tools at his disposal. The tools are not only cool, but can replace other tools like Symantec Ghost and MS SMS, saving you some money nad giving you one software manufacturer to yell at when things go wrong. 🙂

All in all, a very cool pre-roundtable day and I enjoyed meeting the vendors, including Tim Whitehorn, CEO and original creator of Service-U. Resurrection is a long time user of Service-U, and I have always suggested it to churches looking for a resource management and calendaring solution.

Looking forward to tomorrow, but first – a good nights sleep. Aaaaah.