What is church IT? – Part 1

What is church ITA question not asked often enough in churches, be they big or small, is “What is church IT?” At first run, you may think that the answer is self evident. Most of us, though various work experiences, have a good handle on how IT looks in most corporate organisations, so we reasonably view it in the same context, just with the organisation being the church. While partly correct, we do ourselves, our church, and the ministry to which Jesus calls all of us, an injustice by limiting it to that context alone. In this series I will share my thoughts and experiences as to what church IT is. In sharing these thoughts I need to say that I don’t have all the answers myself .Hopefully these posts will spark discussion and you will find the best answer that suites your ministry and your church.

The series will be broken up as follows:

  • Part 1: Providing a service
  • Part 2: Servicing the staff
  • Part 3: Servicing the church
  • Part 4: Servicing the mission

And so, on to part 1…

Part 1: Proving a service

Size does not matter

Some churches may be small with a small staff. Maybe a pastor or two, and someone who comes into the office a couple of days a week to help with admin. Or maybe you’re from a larger church with a pastoral team of five or more and a couple of people in the office full time. You could even be a “mega-church” with staffing and an organisational structure that would rival many mid-sized enterprises. On the surface you might think that the needs from small to medium to large all differ, and in a sense they do, just not in the way you think. At the end of the day it really is just a matter of scale. In a small church, what one pastor needs to do is simply scaled up to a pastoral team at a large church. Similarly, what a (voluntary) treasurer does on his home PC for his local church, is scaled up to an accounting department in a large church. It really is all just scale. I speak from experience, I’ve spent time at both ends of the spectrum in various leadership and/or staffing roles.

What services?

Each church’s needs are going to be different, and while size does play a part it is not the key consideration. More important are the ministries that your church chooses (or has been chosen) to focus on. Case in point, I visited a small church some time back with only 50 or so people in the congregation, however they have a big online streaming audience so they have a significant IT investment in web, streaming and having an online presence.

So, depending on your churches priorities (and size), the table below is one possibility as to how you might service the needs of your church. Where multiple options are listed (Eg, “V/E”), they are listed by priority (IE, Volunteers, then External).

Supported services Small church (<200) Medium church (200-500) Large church (500-1000) Mega church (1000+)
Infrastructure
(server/network)
V/E E/V E/I/V I/V/E
PCs (inc applications) E/V E/V E/I/V I/V/E
Mobile devices and BYOD (phones/tablets) S/E/V S/E/V E/I/S/V I/S/V/E
Cloud productivity (Office 365, Google Apps) S/E S/E E/I/S I/S/E
Database/Church Management V/I I/V I/V I/V
Accounting, finance, HR, ERP S/E/V S/E/V S/E/I S/I/E
Website V/E V/E E/I/V I/E/V
Video on demand, podcasting V V V/E/I I/V/E
Social media V V V/I I/V
Development/programming V/E V/E E/V E/I/V
E External resources. Eg:
-Service provider
-Supplier/VAR
-Developer
-Contractor
I Internal staff (part/full time, other duties)
S Self (IE end-user DIY)
V Volunteer(s)

Regardless of what your focus is, your size, or what resources you utilise to provide services, it is important to remember that as leaders within the church community we need to do as if we are are doing it for The Lord himself (Colossians 3:22-25), because in this case we actually are.

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