© 2014 by Nick B. Nicholaou, all rights reserved President, Ministry Business Services, Inc. Reprinted from Christian Computing Magazine
Most people who work at churches and ministries are in behind-the-scenes positions. There is a group of these modern day heroes of The Faith who focus on IT that began gathering as peers in 2006 to and encourage each other. They have formed the Church IT Network, and their impact is huge!
Who Is The Church IT Network?
Jason Powell, IT Director at Granger Community Church in South Bend, IN was blogging about church IT needs nearly a decade ago when he offered to host a meet-up of church IT people for a roundtable gathering– a gathering of peers helping and encouraging peers. That first meeting was in September 2006. Since then there have been eleven additional national gatherings, and each time the group grows.
Those attending CITRT (Church IT Roundtable) events include IT engineers, net admins, help desk people, and web development people. A few supporting vendors also attend.
What Do They Do At CITRT Events?
The events usually start with worship and a devotional message that speaks directly to the needs of IT people. That is followed by a schedule of roundtable discussions that focus on general issues, IT Director issues, spiritual challenges of serving where you worship, and various skillsets and solutions and concepts. And, of course, there is awesome geek humor and eating! (I heard one person explain the geek humor this way: “There’s lots of geek humor, and you never have to explain it!”)
Why Do We Need Another Conference?
At this year’s national CITRT I especially enjoyed the vulnerable sharing at one of the spiritual roundtables. I had been asked to lead the session, and we shared amongst each other how challenging it is to do what we do where we worship, and that we believe we’re called to serve in this way. Then I asked if anyone in the room was at the end of their rope– at the point of discouragement where this was their last hope for the encouragement they needed to continue on. One said he was, and a couple of others were close. It was a privilege to serve, encourage, and pray for them.
Another terrific aspect of the CITRT is the free resourcing we do for each other. Everyone there is a peer, sharing challenges and solutions and victories, and asking how others have solved challenges and gained victory. We all want to serve well, and at CITRT we help each other to do exactly that.
When Do They Meet? And What’s The Cost?
There are usually two CITRT events scheduled each year: simultaneous regional events in the Spring and a national event in the Fall. The amazing thing is how inexpensive the events are! The national event is usually just $75– and that’s for three days of conference with meals included! And we eat very well. The regionals are even more affordable.
How do they do that? The events are usually hosted at churches, and the attending vendors pay fees that steeply underwrite the cost. As such, the vendors are called partners rather than vendors or even sponsors.
What’s The Next Step?
Do you know someone who works at a Christian church or ministry in the field of IT? Or in a related field, like web development? I strongly recommend you encourage them to get involved in the CITRT community. They can do so a few ways:
- Add a Twitter search for the hashtag #citrt. Many in the CITRT community tweet with that hashtag.
- Login to the website, which you can get to via www.citrt.org. There you’ll see communication threads and a schedule of events, including monthly live podcasts and the various scheduled roundtable meetings.
- Plan now to attend a Spring regional CITRT event. The cost will be minimal, and there will be many of them (the goal is to have them within a four hour drive of almost everyone).
- Plan now to attend the next national CITRT. It will be in the Fall of 2015, and will be hosted by Harvest Christian Fellowship in Riverside, CA (this year’s was in October at Northwoods Community Church in Peoria, IL; they bounce around the country).
I hope you act on my recommendations! Whether the person doing so is you or someone you know, it’s more than worth the time and cost. The benefits will be huge for the attender and their church or ministry. I hope to see you there!