I Want to be Ready

by vernsanders on September 24, 2010

Back Story

At the church I serve (although you wouldn’t know that I serve there if you looked at their website…sigh — but it is being updated…), we are about to launch what I guess is best called a casual worship room. Let me explain…

The church is one of the oldest protestant churches in the county. The original, very small, chapel is a historical building with wonderful wood floors, high ceilings, and great acoustics. But the church outgrew it many years ago, and built out from the back wall a new sanctuary that seats maybe 180 or so. The chapel is now used for choir rehearsals, youth meetings, and as overflow seating for our one worship service.

But the church is still growing, to the point that a couple of weeks ago all of the chapel chairs were filled as was the sanctuary. For a lot of reasons, which don’t matter for this post, we some time ago decided to not add a second service, but dedicate the chapel space as a more casual alternative to the sanctuary. We expect the chapel to have families with young children, people who are less comfortable with a “traditional” church space, and people who would rather sit around a table than in a pew.

Yes, the people in the chapel (except for a number of the seats which have a clear view into the sanctuary through two sets of double doors) will experience worship via a flat screen video monitor. We expect the space to have a greater noise ambiance. But the congregation will be worshiping “together” and it buys us some time before we need to invest in the things that are required to run two separate services.

The Meeting

So I’m in a meeting with the pastor, the worship elder, and the youth director, all of whom are impacted by this change…and we’re talking about logistics. Now I’ve had these kinds of conversations at many churches, and most of the time the leadership is truly unprepared for the amount of detail and co-ordination that is necessary to start a new service. But unlike my other experiences, the people in this meeting actually have the will to make things happen.

The Solution

In my opinion, project management for something like this, is, reduced to its essence, making a good list and making sure everything on the list gets taken care of. A poor list might look like this:

Set up chairs and tables each Sunday

Make sure coffee arrives by 9:30

Turn on Flat Screen

Take down chairs and tables each Sunday

A better list might look something like this:

Cast the vision to the congregation, and communicate the need for this ministry

Find a hospitality person who is called to oversee this ministry

Assemble a group of people who will commit to this ministry’s objectives for at least one year

Agree upon a “look and feel” for the space, consistent with its historic role, and reconfigured for this ministry

Meet with and work through all the logistical and ownership issues for anyone now using the chapel on a regular basis in order that they see the value of this new ministry, and can contribute to its success

Figure out every point at which people who attend worship in this new space will interact with the campus, and anticipate what a visitor (or a current member) may need in the way of hospitality that is not in place already

Spend several weeks attending worship in the space as a committee to understand what the experience is like, and where the pressure points, delivery issues, and problems are

Address everything you discover in the previous step

Ask a randomly constituted “focus group” of people demographically most like the people one expects, to attend worship in the space, and then get feedback from them: look and listen for things that are unexpected, and address them

Then develop an informational campaign to bring the congregation up to date on what has been learned, plus when and how the space will be used for worship: explain to the congregation again why this ministry is being launched, and ask them to be sensitive to new visitors by remembering their hospitality manners

At least three weeks before the launch, do a test run and get another round of feedback

Address what you learn in the test run

Set up chairs and tables each Sunday…

I’m sure I’m missing some things that should be on this list. That’s where you come in. Please leave a comment and let me know what you know that I don’t know…

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September 24, 2010 at 10:27 pm

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Nancy Jo Doughty September 24, 2010 at 4:45 pm

Vern!! What a great project plan list of activites you created. So much better than the first list (and probably, as you have experienced) what many churches use. I’ve mostly worked in the commerical world, but was responsible for many project plans. Your’s looks great. You can never think of everything, but . . . RAH!

vernsanders September 26, 2010 at 9:03 pm

sounds like you are a perfect candidate for serving on the committee…

Nancy Jo Doughty September 25, 2010 at 10:04 am

By the way. Templeton Pres’ website is doing fine, espcially compared to our former church home. Their website is still under construction after at least 8 years of trying to get it together!! really big SIGH on that one! http://www.mbccucc.org

vernsanders September 26, 2010 at 9:03 pm

you’ve got that right…sigh…

Charlie Little September 27, 2010 at 8:51 am

I was at that meeting…but I won’t take it personally…since I DO have the will to make it happen. :)

Marc Ristow September 27, 2010 at 10:09 am

Being a minimalist, I really like the first list. The second list has some very good points and Nancy will need to sort those out when she chairs the committee.

Charlie Little September 27, 2010 at 10:48 am

Somehow I think this will be a surprise to Nancy…

vernsanders September 27, 2010 at 12:59 pm

Perhaps not…

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