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Technology with a Purpose

This article was originally published in
CHRISTIAN MANAGEMENT REPORT
December 2005 (Vol. 29, No. 6)

A PUBLICATION OF
CHRISTIAN MANAGEMENT ASSOCIATION

Management Resources and Leadership Training for Christian Organizations and Growing Churches

The Power of Building an IT Purpose Statement
An IT Team Project

By Fady Eldeiry

“YOU ARE THE SALT OF THE EARTH, says Matthew 5:13-14. “But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by people. You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden.” A preacher I heard once said that Jesus gave us an identity and a purpose. Being salt is our identity to the world; we give taste through Christ. Being light is our purpose, the purpose Jesus gave us, to be on this earth as light. As Christians, we have an identity and a purpose, and we must be aware of that.

Technology has been around for as long as the human race has been. People discovered ways to make tools that made their jobs flow smoother. God used technology to spread his word throughout history. For example, the printing press has been used since it was invented to print the Bible for people to read about the Gospel of Christ. Radio and satellite technology is being used to reach closed countries. Information technology is being used today as a powerful tool, which is facilitating, now more than ever, the spreading of the Gospel of Christ.

Although we need to be careful not to elevate technology to where it does not belong, it is important to understand that on its own, technology does not replace ministry. Technology is a mechanism that follows a flow process of events that any organization follows. It is important that as technologists we are connecting with the purpose of the organization we are serving. We are called to partner with the community that we work with in order to provide effective technology systems that bring flow to the organization, not become bumps on its road.

Every one of us has a calling. It is important that technology professionals in ministry realize their calling, communicate the reality of that calling, and raise awareness within their community. We have an opportunity and a responsibility to use our gifts. God has paved the way at this time for us to spread the Gospel of Christ. Esther 4:14 says, “For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?”

It is important not to abuse this calling or opportunity we have been given. We are entrusted with important and powerful information, and must ensure that the security and stability of systems we maintain are always in effect. It is then important that we stay focused on exactly where we’re headed.

Psalm 138:8 says, “The Lord will fulfill His purpose for me; your love, O Lord, endures forever— do not abandon the works of your hands.”

Our goals have to match God’s goals as well as the organization we’re serving God through. That’s why we need to have a purpose, which is an essential exercise to keep us focused on our target. In that exercise, I will introduce four phases that will help build a purpose statement.

Key Scripture Verse

In order to have a productive purpose for our ministry, we first need to realize our personal purpose in life is to grow in our relationship with God, honor Him, and bring Him glory. From that, the fruit of the Kingdom will grow when we cultivate our relationship with Christ. While we’re in dialogue with God, we discover Scripture that directs our lives, and inevitably causes us to be transformed. Psalm 119:105 says, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.” The more we read Scripture, the more God will be revealed to us, and we will know him more.

Having a key Scripture verse to set the tone of our purpose statement is essential. We have to look for the position we are in at the time, personally, within our team, and in the organization as a whole. As a technologist that is passionate about leading with a focus on Christ, I discovered some common things about us as technologists; at least about myself!

Because of the nature of our field, we are tempted to be all-knowing people and have an attitude of being the people that know how everyone else should do things. This temptation is naturally there, because of the way God wired us. We are always analyzing better work flow procedures for the purpose of Kingdom building. We are passionate about seeing results. We do not like to sit still and listen to God or to mentors or even to the people we are serving.

Gordon Kirk, my pastor, says, “It’s a sin-infected world.” That is why we have to keep guard all the time to focus on our relationship with Christ and let him guide us to the work flow, because it is his Kingdom after all, not ours! That led me to a Scripture that is key in my life and the growth of our team.

Ephesians 4:1-3 says, “I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” Wow! This verse is loaded with work to do! Realize the calling we have received; be completely humble and gentle… keep the unity of the Spirit. I do not know how we can do any of this without growing our relationship with Christ and making sure we listen to the Holy Spirit every time he speaks!

Purpose Statement

Based on the Scripture that God has given you, study the purpose statement of the organization you are partnering with. Write down all the functions you are responsible for in the organization, and start drafting your purpose statement. Make sure you include each person on your team, so it can be a team effort and they can all focus on and use the statement later on. A purpose statement should not be more than a short four or five lines. Make it simple and let everyone know what your ministry is all about.

Values

Values are important! Values are often one-word (or brief) statements that you and your staff should always check work against. It’s like a checklist for any project.

Examples include:

• prompt response
• integrity
• quick turn-around
• professionalism
• communication
• reliability
If you have quick turn-around as one of your values, then you need to make sure you have a system that supports that. The use of helpdesk software can help with that value. If you have reliability, you should study the backup strategy of your systems, and make sure that you can promptly restore deleted files for users.

Application

Application is project management. If you use project management from the beginning of any project, you will have the least pain down the line. You might not have enough staff on your team to have a project manager, but that is an even more pressing reason why you should use part of your time to do that!

If you have an organized task list, everyone will be happy starting with your “customers” all the way to yourself. People will see that you have an organized task list and will respect your timeline. It is important that you show your organization that IT is running in a stable environment, so they can have trust in the systems you build. And use them!

Information Technology is an essential part of any organization. It is our responsibility to promote our purpose and values to the larger organization. Information Technology is not an expense on the books; rather it is a complement for every member of the organization, whether it is the customer, the vendor or the staff. It is also very important for our ministry, as a church in the 21st Century, to be in line with our purpose. It is an essential, and I might add, required tool for everyone who is involved in ministry.

Fady Eldeiry [was] director of information technology at Lake Avenue Church, Pasadena, Calif. (http://www.lakeave.org).

http://media.salemwebnetwork.com/CCom_Ministries/media/cma/pdf/cma_20051129_d1f0178b-addb-4bf4-b650-5d7765ef1ade1.pdf

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