Leader vs Geek – Church Communication Breakdowns

As I mentioned last week, Kurt and I spent Friday and Saturday at the Interactive Church Conference in Daytona which was led by Matt Farina and Bob Christenson who do the Geeks and God podcast.  We originally planned to blog life from the conference, but then figured most of you probably had something better to do than read a dozen geeky blog posts Friday afternoon and Saturday.  So, we decided to post notes and thoughts on the conference throughout the next 2 weeks.

One of the first sessions touched on communication problems between church leaders and the tech staff/volunteers responsible for the church website.

Why talk about this?  It’s a barrier (to ministry, community, and a good church website)

Characteristics of most leaders

  • Non-technical
  • Time is focused on ministry
  • Goal-oriented,
  • Lots of contact w/people
  • Is accountable for result

Characteristics of most tech people

  • Skilled in technology
  • Love for technology
  • Talks tech
  • Not the primary user of the website
  • Easy to forget why they’re doing what they’re doing.

The difference between leaders and tech people boils down to vocabulary and worldview.

Vocabulary (Leader vs Tech person)

  • Talk Churchy vs Speak Geek
  • Macro vs micro
  • Outside the box vs tools they use
  • Trained in communication vs introverted
  • Lack tech vocabulary vs less understanding of ministry issues
  • Afraid to say “I don’t understand” vs talk down to people who don’t get it


  • Talk in abstracts (lack of details) vs can’t grab the big picture

Tomorrow we’ll talk about how to resolve and avoid communication breakdowns.

Until then… Do you agree or disagree with these descriptions of the differences between leaders and tech people? Have you ever experienced tension or a communication breakdown in your church because of these differences?

Paul Steinbrueck is co-founder and CEO of OurChurch.Com, husband, father of 3, blogger. You can follow him on Twitter at @PaulSteinbrueck and add him to your circles at Google+ as +Paul Steinbrueck.


  1. Interactive Church Conference Info | Church Marketing Online - Mar 3, 2009

    […] Leader vs Geek – Church Communication Breakdowns […]

  2. » 10 Tips to Overcoming Leader/Geek Communication Breakdowns - Mar 4, 2009

    […] Yesterday I posted about communication breakdowns between church leaders and the people building and managing church websites (aka, geeks).  Today we (as my pastor likes to say) move to the solution side.  Derived from a session at the Interactive Church Conference, here are 10 tips to overcoming communication breakdowns. […]

  3. » Are you a bridge person? - Mar 9, 2009

    […] Last week I blogged about a couple of sessions from the Interactive Church Conference that talked about communication breakdowns between church leaders and tech people and how to overcome them.  One of my big take-aways from the conference was the value of what Matt and Rob referred to as “Bridge People.”  Bridge people are people who can bridge the communications gap between church leaders and tech people. […]

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