Technology Update

Update: March 13, 8:00 PM

Our new internet connection has been installed. Our bandwidth speeds have improved from 1.5Mbs to 100Mbs. We will be at 300Mbs soon, but we first have to make a few hardware changes internally to realize our full potential.

We've also installed our new phone system. The new system is a virtual system, which means we manage our call routing, user extensions, and the like all online. No more hardware PBX system and phone lines that have to be managed in the office. This system has many helpful features that we'll be rolling out soon, but as we do that, and as we train our staff and front-desk volunteers on the system, we're going to allow the system to answer all incoming calls (when you call in, you can always hit "0" to ring the front desk). Yes, it is somewhat impersonal, but it gives us some breathing room in the short-term to make sure we use this system well over the long-term.

Here are a few pointers to make optimal use of the system in the meantime. Whenever you call the church via our main number at ‭(910) 762-9693‬:

  • Option 1 is the dial-by-name directory. This will be very helpful; you can find any staff member using this directory. And, for many staff members, their cell phone is now their only phone. Their extension rings their cell phone so you can call them "at church" and access them even if they aren't in the building. This is very helpful in terms of reaching our pastoral staff who are often out and about.
  • The CareLine is baked into our new system. If you want to hear the CareLine (vs reading it online) then just hit option 2. Catheryn Thomas or Robb Lapp's voice will walk you through the listing of those in our congregation in need of your prayers.
  • Option 3 is for visitors more or less. It announces our worship service times.
  • Option 4 will connect you to our preschool.
  • After hours, option 5 will allow you to connect to our front desk to leave a message in our general mailbox.

Again... during business hours you can always hit 0 at any time for the front desk.

One benefit of the new system is that we can very easily craft custom attendant messages. If we experience another snow day, or more likely hurricanes, we can log in from anywhere and add announcements to our phone system about office closures and worship/program schedule changes. There are many other benefits to share with you, but for now we'll stop here.

So... lots of changes underway. Please pray for our staff as they continue to adapt to changes to systems and processes, and also grant us grace and patience as we fine-tune these new systems.

Update: March 12

A question we hear quite often in the church is, "Why is the WiFi so bad?" Well, the WiFi is actually pretty good. We have coverage almost across the entire main building. What isn't good is the underlying connection to the internet. At the church we have a connection speed of 1.5Mbps. The starting speed for cable internet service these days is often 100Mbps. That is more than 66 times faster that what currently serves the church.

Tomorrow, Tuesday, March 13, we're upgrading our connection to 300Mbs, or 200 times faster than what serves the church today... and we need it. Our church is growing, we're making use of an abundance of new technology services, we want to leverage streaming video for education and teaching, just to name a few things that require robust bandwidth. In addition, our staff needs fast internet to do their work efficiently. This enhancement is long overdue, and tomorrow we will hopefully enjoy a smooth installation.

Along with internet upgrades, we're also upgrading/launching a new phone system tomorrow. Our current phone system is more than 17 years old. It has served us well, but we need a more flexible system with features our current system simply does not have. And on Wednesday we will be installing new copiers to replace the ones we have.

So tomorrow and into Wednesday, if you need to reach someone at the church, need to connect to the internet at the church, or need to make a copy at the church and you run into any kind of trouble, please be patient. In the long run it will be worth whatever short-term hassles we may experience.

Note that we'll make use of our website, Facebook, and Twitter to post any updates related to issues and challenges. Those resources are accessible here:

Oh, and one more thing. All of this we're talking about isn't free - but it won't cost us any more than what we're paying now for inferior services. In fact, it is possible we'll spend less. Praise God!