We are in Gilbert, AZ for refreshcache 2011. This is the third year for this gathering, put on by our friends at Central Christian Church. The purpose of refreshcache is to encourage and motivate developers in the area of Church Management Software, mostly centered around Arena. We also had a presentation from David Carroll on bvcms, a product that I have not yet written up on this site. More to follow in another post.
One of the requirements we added this year on all attendees this year was that every church needed to present at least once, if possible. This was initially met with some fear and trepidation but the end result is that RC2011 is incredibly rich and feels like a community effort rather than a few people disseminating knowledge.
Collaboration seems to be the overarching theme of the gathering. One of the things that has really struck me lately is how much better things go when we work together and involve other people. The monday sessions started off with Derek Neighbors talking about collaboration as the second phase of creativity.
After some technical sessions, David Turner showed us some of the awesome things they have been working on at CCV, and then Jon Edmiston got up and challenged us all to work on "Google Car" levels of innovation in the church software field. Jon had very practical things we can all do to make ourselves better, and I really respect Jon as a guy who never stops learning and pushing forward.
One of Jon's closing statements was that we need to focus on major features, not incremental upgrades. While incremental changes are not a bad thing, they take away time and attention from making the next great thing, and church software has a long way to go before we hit real maturity in the innovation sector.
Jon closed with "one more thing" announcing the Spark Development Network, which is a non-profit devoted to developing open source software for the church environment. Their first project is an open source ChMS product simply called Rock.
This obviously is huge news, and I'll post more on it later.
Great meetings so far, looking forward to the rest!