The Sean Sperte Interview



I have had the priveledge of getting to know Sean Sperte over the past several months. He is the Director of Web Ministries at The City Church and Generations Church (both of which were listed on a top 10 Church sites article featured on the Digg homepage).

Sean also publishes his own weblog, one of my favorites, Geek & Mild.

Sean Sperte

I love Geek & Mild’s design. What all went into it?

Well thanks! I’m quite fond it it myself. The current design took about two weeks worth of free evenings (or about 30 hours) to complete, from concept to launch. I had some inspiration:
  • The black band across the top was inspired by an early design for 31three.com that Jesse Bennett-Chamberlain showed me. His design featured a masthead that resembled a stitched ribbon. When he abandoned the design, I was disappointed, so I decided to try it out for myself.
  • The upside-down tabs were inspired by a website I happened across via CSSImport about a year ago. I love the way they implemented the different color schemes per section.
  • The typography is inspired by the sites of Matt Thomas, Greg Storey, Cameron Moll, and John Gruber.
  • Of course, the layout of links and posts formatted as inline was popularized by Jason Kottke and John Gruber.
I designed Geek & Mild like I do all my web projects. I started with a blank canvas in Photoshop. From there I used guides to fashion a grid, and then I worked on the design elements. The design has evolved slightly since I created and launched it — mostly the typography and vertical rhythm. I have some plans for upgrading the design in the near future. I’d like to unify the archives a bit, and make the first-time visit more usable for readers.

You’re the ‘Director of Web Ministries’ at your church. What does a good day look like for you?

I’m at my desk most of the day, most days. I have two regularly scheduled meetings per week; one is an all-staff prayer meeting and the other is a media department meeting. On most days I have one or two major projects (website redesign, mini-site, logo, book cover, etc.) on my task list. Those projects take the majority of my “productivity-time”, or the time I don’t use for repetitive tasks, such as simple website updates, podcast updates, etc. It’s been said that The City Church has just two speeds: Wait and Go Fast. For the media department (of which the Web Ministries is a part of), the Go Fast speed is pretty much the constant. My job really takes on the form of whatever it takes for the current emphasis or season the church is in — so no two days look the same.

How do you think Christians can use the web and technology for revival purposes?

It’s all about communication. Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God. If we can harness the incredible power and potential of the internet for communicating, and couple it with the timeless truth of the Word of God, I believe we will see supernatural results. The key is to obey the Holy Spirit. He’s not oblivious to technology, and He knows best how to utilize it to advance the Kingdom. If we, in our own ingenuity and strength, try to prove our methods of reaching the lost or changing our culture, we may at best see some (non-lasting) fruit, and at worst possibly disqualify ourselves from what God wants to do. Remember what the master said to the servant who buried his talent. He called him wicked. Yikes! To put it simply, we have an advantage the world does not: The Holy Spirit. All we need to do is obey His prompting and be open to His creative methods.

Do you have any advice for pastors who blog or are considering blogging?

The nature of blogging is very subjective and emotional. Be very cautious when you’re writing to not say anything you may regret in a year or ten years. Remember that what is spoken from the pulpit may be heard by hundreds, or perhaps thousands, but what’s written and published on the internet has a potential audience of millions upon millions — and isn’t easily deleted once it’s published. Server and search engine caches keep that data stored indefinitely. Be careful!

What programs do you use to do your job?

For email I use Entourage (to access our church’s Exchange Server). For design I use Adobe Photoshop CS3 and Illustrator CS3. For development I’m using a combination of TextMate, Coda and CSSEdit. For video podcast preparation I’m using QuickTime Pro and the Turbo.264 from el gato. For PowerPoint creation I use PowerPoint on a PC, as well as Keynote on occasion. I also use a few online web apps: CampaignMonitor, Backpack, Mint, and FeedBurner. I’m sure there are more, I just can’t recall them at the moment (and I’m not at my work desk).

What Apple gear do you own?

I have my 15-inch PowerBook G4 (January 2005), a 1st-gen iPod nano (white) and a 2nd-gen iPod shuffle (orange). At work I use a dual-2.3ghz PowerMac G5 and a 23-inch ACD, and a 5th-gen iPod video (black). I should also mention I own (and carry with me) a white Nintendo DS. :)

PowerBook Glow

If money was no object, but you could only purchase one thing from Apple; what would it be?

Hard question! As much as I think I could benefit from upgrading to an Intel-based laptop (probably a MacBook Pro), I think I’d have to say I’d go for the iPhone. Reason being: The iPhone is Apple’s flagship product at the moment, and everything they’re doing seems to be focused on or around it. I feel very much out of the loop not owning one. Although my PowerBook is definitely feeling its age, it’s still chuggin’ along like the work-horse it is — and I don’t NEED to upgrade.