Thursday, September 3, 2009

Synod Communicators Conference

Last night I attended the first session of a two-day Communicators Conference that the Synod of Lakes and Prairies is offering. Approximately 25 of us gathered at a hotel in Bloomington to hear a presentation on Google applications by Sarah Moore-Nokes who is on staff at Winnebago Presbytery. (I missed the first worship presentation.) The general theme of the conference is “Doing more with less.”
For those of you who don't know, The Synod of Lakes and Prairies is a governing body in the Presbyterian Church. It covers a wide area of the upper Midwest that reaches from the eastern border of Wisconsin, south through Iowa and Nebraska, north through Minnesota and west through the Dakotas. Within the synod's boundaries are 16 presbyteries encompassing with nearly 900 churches with about 150,000 members.
I am thrilled that the Synod is offering resources to the church on informational technology. One phrase that I frequently use is “Jesus is the most innovative religious leader in the history of the world, but the church is one of the least innovative institutions in the world. Why the disconnect?” I don’t think the church is called to be on the cutting edge of technology, but I also find very troubling the resistance to using technology among church and yes, Presbyterian leaders.

If Jesus was alive in bodily form today, I don’t think that he would be calling his followers to use Facebook, blogs, Twitter, blog feeders, I-Google as a requirement of faith, but I do believe he would be using those features to share the gospel and promote community among his followers.

Sarah Moore-Nokes shared some very interesting thoughts on using Google tools. I learned
· that Google has many tools that church leaders can use to be more effective and tools that will not be a barrier to communication and work. They have a tool for almost everything we do at work. Well almost everything. They haven’t invented an Internet stapler!
· about the concept of Cloud Computing. Instead of storing information on our own desktops, information will be frequently stored in another place—the Internet. We will then access that information. This could come in handy for me as I often work in different locations. I could access a sermon I’m writing from work, then when I go home and I don’t to bring my computer home. I could access it on any computer at home. If I had my I-phone and had 15 minutes I could access the information from my I-Phone and do 15 minutes of work on the sermon. We will be able to access information from multiple types of hardware.
· about I-Google. We can create our own personalized E-Google page that has the information on it for our work. For example, we can put a Google E-mail application on our personalized E-Google page. That application can read all of our individual E-mail accounts. This could come in handy. I have four E-mail accounts. I have one at church that I read frequently. I have a MSN account that I use for personal E-mail. I have a Yahoo account which I use to register on web sites. That account gets all my E-mail solicitations. I have an old AOL account that I look at once a month. Instead of logging onto four different E-mail accounts my Google application can keep me posted in one spot about new E-mails I receive from each account. I know, I know—this feature might not rock my world—but it will save me time—it will help me do more with less.
· blog feeds. Instead of sending information on a mass E-mail, we could have people sign up for a blog feed to receive information from the church. Actually this isn’t really a blog, but a way to communicate. I send E-mails almost every day to the folks in our church. I could have them sign up for a feed and then just put the information into a document that is automatically sent electronically to a group.

I know that much of this information that was shared is basic to some folks and confusing to others. For me it is interesting to learn how to use technological tools in our work in the church.

Today we will hear presentations on Presbyterian Neighbor News; we will hear from Paula Sanders the executive coordinator for Local Arrangements for the 2010 General Assembly; we will hear a presentation on “Writing for the Web;” and we will hear a panel discussion from communicators in the Synod.

I’ll write more about it tomorrow.

No comments: