Church IT: Strategies and Solutions

Does your church have a computer?

It is hard to believe that as recent as 1987, one of the major issues church administrators were wrestling with was the question of IF they should buy a computer. Today, however, most of us cannot image doing our jobs, leading our ministries or even functioning in everyday life without a computer.  How times have changed…and in less than 30 years!!!!

Today, most churches have IT departments or outsourced IT help centers.  I would venture to say that the preponderance of churches and ministries have computers and use technology nearly every day in their operations processes.  So, when you have a church IT situation, concern or need a strategy…WHO YOU GONNA CALL (not Ghost-busters!!!)?  I know who I would call…it would be my friend Nick Nicholaou.  I have great admiration for Nick and the MBS team.  Not just from a technical perspective…which they are top notch…but from a ministry and heart perspective.  You will find no better.

Which leads me to a conversation Nick and I had recently about the release of his new book.  I am so excited for the church world to have such a resource available to them.  Yeah, it is cool that Nick wrote a book and that his name and picture are on the book…but knowing his heart…that is almost embarrassing to him as his desire is to provide the best resources to the Bride of Christ…and he has!

Here is a portion of our conversation:

Tim:    Nick, you just wrote a book [Church IT: Strategies and Solutions published by Christianity Today] to help those overseeing church Church IT Coverinformation technology, and it looks terrific. Why’d you write it?

Nick:   Thanks, Tim! I’ve been working with churches and ministries nationwide for nearly thirty years as an IT strategist, consultant, and engineer. The working title for the project was Learning from Others: Avoiding Common Church IT Mistakes, and my hope was to help many avoid some of those mistakes that affect team productivity and cost a lot more than good strategies typically do. Having helped so many hundreds of churches and ministries over the years, I have seen patterns of mistakes that could have been easily avoided if those making decisions knew about them in advance.

Tim:    We all have computers; why is it so common that churches make mistakes about computer system setup?

Nick:   Computer system configuration for a corporate, or office environment is much more challenging than for a home environment. One example is WiFi. Many mistakenly think that using the same WiFi access points at the church as those they use at home should work. It never does because of a few reasons, like the connection loads and the needed filtering issues. This is just one of many issues I wrote about in the book.

Tim:    Is the book written in technical terms that only IT professionals will understand?

Nick:   Great question, Tim! Though there is enough technical meat in the book for an engineer to work with, the book is written so that those responsible for making IT decisions—who are usually not engineers—can benefit from it.

Tim:    What was your favorite part of writing the book?

Nick:   Well, knowing that it would help many churches and ministries was key, and was the driving force behind the book. But the most fun for me was writing the glossary of terms! I like communicating technical information in non-technical ways, and had fun writing the glossary so that those who are not engineers can have a quick reference on the terms that can so easily cause confusion for those not familiar with the expanse of IT terms.

Tim:   Nick, as you know I am a facilities guy, and facilities are a part of church operations, just like accounting, IT, food service, etc.  Given that, what correlations or similarities do you see between IT and facilities…and…how can one benefit the other?

Nick:  That’s a great question! Facilities equipment needs reserves to satisfy maintenance and repair replacements. Churches can approach this proactively or in reactionary mode and there can be significant impacts.  Some of this is cost related, but for sure, the stress attached to the maintenance or replacement cycle is dramatically different depending on the strategy chosen.

Computers similarly need to be replaced on a regular basis to keep staff functioning at its most efficient level possible. One of the chapters in the book is devoted to BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) and cloud (data that’s hosted offsite) trends, both of which impact the cost of system refresh rates in a very good way—lower cost and a more efficient/happy team. But it needs to be approached strategically, or it’s result will be no different than that of using home-class WiFi access points in a corporate setting.

Tim:  WOW…you sound like a facility management professional.  There really is a lot of correlation between our realms.  Thanks again for the time today, Nick.

So…go on line…and get your copy of Nick’s book HERE. You will want this as part of your INTENTIONAL stewardship library!

nickNick Nicholaou is President of MBS, Inc., a team of IT strategists who evaluate, engineer, and support servers, Mac & Windows computers, and mobile devices. In MBS’ private cloud data center they host Exchange email, SQL databases, VoIP phone systems, SPAM filtering, and file storage/ synchronization.

Nick and his team have served thousands of Christian churches and ministries nationally, and he speaks on a regular basis at national and regional conferences from coast to coast.

Nick’s Contact Info:

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