Today I took part in a simulcast leadership conference called the “Elephant Room.” The contents of the day would be another post that I may do later.
Since this is Thursday, I wanted to focus on the tech side of the day.
I sat in a room with a couple hundred leaders and pastors from around this area and state. All across the country there were similar rooms with other leaders and pastors. I have no idea how many total were in attendance at all locations. The conference speakers were live in a room with an audience near Chicago, IL.
What struck me was how technology has changed conferences and the availability of training and learning opportunities. In the past, for me to attend today’s event would have required at least one night in a hotel and many hours of travel by plane or car. Add the expense of travel to the time required and we are talking a significant investment. While worth it, the cost of all of that is high. Because of that cost, it limits who can attend. By using technology to broadcast it via video, it opens up to many more people for a lot less time and resources. Beyond the live video aspect there was live interaction with the audiences around the country with the ability to live text questions and have the speakers address those questions in real time. On top of this, there were folks “live blogging” the event along with the Twitter stream of quotes and comments. It adds whole new dimensions to the experience on top of opening it up for more people at one time. It was effective.
Some would argue that you lose the human interaction. Not at all. In fact, I think it was better. The reason being, every one in the room where I was lives in a relatively close geographical area. The interactions take on new meaning when these are people one may actually carry on interaction and relationship with even after the event. When traveling to a large event in another city, the interactions tend not to significantly move beyond the event. For instance, I made a connection today with a pastor who is only about a mile and a half away from our church. This has the potential to be a real opportunity for us to work together to make a difference in our community. That doesn’t happen often at large conferences we travel to. The whole feel of the room and the day was nice. There were enough there for a great dynamic, yet not so many that it felt like a crowd being herded around.
These points are significant, because there is much debate about multi-site churches and video venues for ministry. (This was even a topic of discussion in the conference.) The conference itself proved the effective potential of the video venue model for growing churches. Technology makes this possible. The technology continues to improve and advance.
Today, I was a participant with a technology based event. It furthered my belief that technology is a wonderful tool that we can and should use to advance the purposes of God.