Brentwood Baptist Church, located in the the greater Nashville area, is one of the largest and fastest growing churches in the country. With over 9,000 members, and having grown from just one campus a few years ago to five currently, Brentwood Baptist faces many of the same challenges smaller churches and churches of a similar size face, as well as some unique to them.
Like many large churches that have a multi-site model with staff serving in different locations, Brentwood Baptist has faced the challenge of maintaining security while providing secure access to data for an increasingly mobile, and dispersed staff. Enable Ministry Partners has worked with Brentwood Baptist to ensure that all Brentwood Baptist devices, across all campuses, are encrypted for security. Access to data stored on the church network is via secure VPN or Terminal Server, and as Brentwood Baptist begins to make the move to cloud services for some of its needs, like Microsoft Office 365 for email, and One Drive for personal file storage, Enable has partnered with the church to carry out the migrations and put in place the needed security for these services.
Additionally, Brentwood Baptist experiences unique challenges of providing technology support to the staff supporting their Deaf and Chinese congregations. As an expression of Enable Ministry Partners’ commitment to go going the extra mile to serve those who serve, Enable has customized its support to include additional on-site hours that allow face to face support for those deaf staff and Chinese staff for whom interacting with a remote service desk can be both daunting and challenging.
Brentwood Baptist’s multi campus model provides centralized service to the remote campuses while allowing the campuses much greater autonomy than a traditional multi-cast site model does, but those shared services require an effective, reliable wide area network that goes beyond just providing access to centralized data. Given the nature and model of Brentwood Baptist’s expansive ministry objectives, seamless communication between all campuses and staff is vital. Enable engineers helped develop a wide area network that, in addition to site to site data connectivity, allows Brentwood Baptist’s campuses to enjoy a single voice-over-IP phone system with extension to extension calls between campuses. The network is also used, once a year, on “Vision Sunday” to simulcast an address by the Senior Pastor at the Central campus to all the remote campuses.
Brentwood Baptist’s manifold creative mission initiatives often pose unique and interesting challenges, including outfitting a mobile Medical/Dental unit with a self-contained network that employs solid state drives for reliability in a mobile environment, all devices encryption to protect patient’s data, all while supporting on-board digital imaging equipment and providing secure wireless access for portable devices used for registrations. Other Brentwood mission activities in the areas of prison ministry, care for the poor and homeless, ministry to refugees, and adoption and foster care, all are supported by technology that enables staff and volunteers to serve others in an effective and efficient way.
From desktop support to assisting with developing technology roadmaps and strategy, Enable Ministry Partners works alongside Brentwood Baptist to bring world class solutions to the unique challenges of a vibrant and growing church. Brentwood and Enable both share a passion that peoples’ lives will be changed as they are served by others committed to them and the Gospel of Christ.
In the words of their Executive Pastor, Brian Dodridge, “Enable has been a valued ministry partner with Brentwood Baptist Church since 2007. Since then, our church has grown in size and complexity as our multi-site strategy has led us add five more campus locations. Whether it’s strategic IT planning, managing special projects or providing help desk support to our staff, Enable has the technology resources that our church needs to help our church be ready for the next ministry opportunity God has in store for us.”
Irving Bible Church is a large church in the Dallas area, dedicated to spiritual growth and community service through its various ministry initiatives, both inside and outside the walls of the church. When Enable Ministry Partners first connected with IBC in 2008, IBC was dealing with some significant technology issues that were hampering its ministry and operational objectives. IBC had an aging network structure and employed an ad hoc, reactive break-fix strategy to maintain its technology infrastructure and equipment. Due to its ministry plans and goals, however, IBC needed and wanted better. Since IBC was the frequent host of worship services, conferences, concerts, and other events, IBC leadership wanted to provide the best possible technology and data experience to everyone who came through the doors.
To meet these goals IBC required a partner who could not only manage technology, but one who understood how to leverage technology strategically to build stronger ministries. Irving Bible turned to Enable because our team of engineers and consultants has been working with churches since 2000 to support, enable, and extend ministry via the strategic use and implementation of technology.
One key concern for the IBC community early on was the pain and difficulty associated with the timely, efficient and effective check-in of children into Sunday school classes through centralized check-in stations. As IBC grew, check-in lines got longer, and created a crowded, chaotic feel in the hallways. Families attending IBC regularly had come to expect this, but it created a jarring experience for new attendees. This was not the first impression IBC wanted to make, and it had a negative impact on the subsequent worship experience. Enable worked with the Irving Bible team to upgrade the check-in experience to realize some “quick wins.” Updating the network and check-in hardware greatly improved the speed and reliability. Spurred on by these initial improvements, all children’s check-in was wholly redesigned to continue improving the experience for families. Enable was able to provide guidance and assurance throughout the project, from consultation to design to implementation to completion. Families now experience a calmer, more orderly and more welcoming atmosphere as they walk through the doors.
In addition to serving the congregants of Irving Bible, Enable has worked hard to connect personally with the staff and serve them with excellence. At the beginning of our partnership, IBC’s phone and voicemail system failed irreparably, cutting off a key method of communication for staff, volunteers, and ministry participants. (While Enable had been preparing IBC’s leadership for this possibility, IBC’s hope was that the old system would last a while longer.) Knowing that important work of the church was crippled, Enable immediately contacted our industry partners and made them aware of the criticality of the situation. Working in partnership with IBC and its industry partners, within three days the Enable team had fully installed a brand new VOIP phone system, complete with new phones for each staff member, and provided the necessary training on how to use them! Not only did the new system offer more features and flexibility to the staff, it saved the church money as well. Enable Ministry is proud to serve and support Irving Bible Church and to be able to assist IBC in helping to change lives as IBC pursues its specific ministry calling.