I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Pastor and Director of IT and Web for Second Baptist Church in Houston, Texas, David Drinnon. David is also a on the leadership team with Church IT Round Table (CITRT).

I love hearing how technology is viewed, incorporated, and supported by churches and David shares lots of valuable information about his church and how technology holds a place at the leadership table:

Describe your position and role at your church as IT director. What are some of the biggest challenges you face?

I am one of several pastors on our church staff. Along with my regular pastoral duties of teaching and pastoral care, I oversee the daily operations of our IT team for all five of our locations. This includes coordination of all technology purchases, Help Desk support, network infrastructure, staff training, software development, mobile app and website development, and social media initiatives. Our team works closest with the following staff teams: Accounting, Marketing/Communications, Data Entry, and Creative Media.

The biggest challenges I face are the ongoing training of our staff with the latest changes in technology and how to maximize them in ministry. It is quite the challenging getting someone to learn something they don’t know they need to know. Another challenge our team faces is working across departments and campuses to develop consensus on ministry processes and information needs.

How does your church view technology and how do the pastors and staff support what you do for the church?

Our church views technology as an accelerator for ministry. It allows us as staff to be more efficient and effective in our respective roles, but more importantly our best use of technology is when we equip our church leaders to do the work of the ministry…giving them the right information at the right time to connect with others.

Our senior pastor, Dr. Ed Young, recognized the importance of technology in 2002 when he created my position and thereby gave IT a seat at the table along with the pastoral leadership of the church. This allowed IT to be involved at the many of the highest levels of planning and decision making. As he does with all of our pastors, Dr. Young completely empowers us in our respective ministries. He does not micromanage.

If there is any occasion where IT fails, it is not because of lack of money or support from him or other staff. He is my biggest champion and sets the bar high for excellence in technology.

How do you see internet technology changing the way churches build community and encourage members to get involved and volunteer?

Building community is the popular pursuit of many churches right now with internet technology. I believe we need to be honest about what that looks like and its real results for the local church. If one thinks that setting up a church Twitter or Facebook account or providing chat along with a live stream of their worship service will result in greater community for their church…I think they will be disappointed with the long term results.

The best applications of technology are those built around ministry processes that are already tested and proven. Churches need to look at what already works well in growing their church and then explore how technology will improve it.
One of the ways we are using internet and mobile technology at Second is to create a mobile app that streamlines the prayer, care and outreach of our Bible Study classes. As important life events are recorded in our database, the system will trigger a series of tasks to specific leaders for follow-up on those individuals. These processes are nothing new, but the technology will allow our leaders to have immediate access to the information they need to make a connection and report their follow-up to staff. We anticipate a much higher level of engagement and connectedness among our members and visitors.

You are on the leadership team for the Church IT Round Table. Describe what this organization is about and how it helps churches?

The Church IT Roundtable (CITRT) began in 2006 as a series of events designed to foster networking opportunities and peer learning among Church IT professionals. Since then, the CITRT grew beyond being an annual event to becoming an ongoing community of Church IT people who connect with one another every day through Twitter, IRC chat, and other online community platforms. Earlier this year, we introduced the Church IT Network brand to reflect this growth.  The Church IT Network refers to the ongoing community at large while the CITRT refers to our national and regional events that are known for their roundtable (participant-centered and discussion-based) format.

Churches have very unique IT needs and the ‘marketplace’ for church specific technologies is very small. As a result, Church IT professionals have to get creative in how they meet the technical needs of their churches.

The Church IT Network helps churches by creating opportunities for sharing ideas, solutions, and even resources. And many will be surprised by how little church size plays a role in the conversations. We all share the same challenges.

Our next event is coming up on April 18-20 at Watermark Church in Dallas, TX. We would love for you and any others to join us. Details at http://www.churchitnetwork.com/spring2012/.

Thanks to David for such powerful answers and insight into the role of technology in the Church!

Lauren Hunter is a freelance writer, church technology PR consultant (http://lhpr.net) and founder of the blog ChurchTechToday (http://ChurchTechToday.com), Technology for Today’s Church.