Are you managing your church's technology? Or is it managing you?


In the first article we introduced you to the need to manage your church's technical systems. In this article we will familiarize you with your technical systems. Regardless of church size-small, medium or large-all have the same three kinds of technical system.


Office Systems: Comprised of personal computers (networked or not), with printers, internet connections, email, office software for document processing, databases for giving records, corporate/denominational paperwork, PowerPoint for Sunday worship, Bible research software, financial spreadsheets and budget software, copy machines, and everything else it takes to run a modern human organization.


Phone Systems: Comprised of an on-site PBX unit (the main box that runs a multiple extension phone system) or an off-site system (run from a central phone company site), fax machines, and voicemail system (part of PBX phone system or a box or PC card attached to phone lines).


Presentation Systems: Comprised of overhead projectors (digital or older analog), VCR/DVD players, televisions (portable or cart-mounted), digital big-screen monitors, and portable or permanent sound systems. It may include computers using digital sound manipulation software, and keyboards or other electronic instruments attached to the sound system.


Obviously, some of these systems may overlap one another. A computer the Minister of Music uses in his office may be his primary office PC yet also be a significant portion of the presentation system. Don't worry about being too precise. Slot them in a category where the majority of their use is and let it go at that.


Each one of these three types of systems has its own particular issues which can bite you at the most inopportune moment. Given the church's main role as a spiritual organization in which life-and-death as well as eternal issues hang in the balance daily, where people's innermost secrets and financial dealings are vulnerable, and where volunteers and parishioners are moving in and out of the facilities on an hourly basis, technical disasters of a most personal nature can and do occur.


This means a primary consideration for a church is security and confidentiality. Personal giving records should be restricted to a very few trusted individuals. Counseling appointment records, confidential letters and paperwork need to be securely filed. Appropriate limited access to the internet, preventing porn or hate site surfing is a must. Protection against viruses and email spam is vital. Eavesdropping on private phone calls should not be possible. Confidential printouts or faxes about personal and legal issues should not drop into a tray in a public area.