Ten Things I’ve Learned Visiting Other Churches

Over the past four weeks, I’ve had the
opportunity to check out some other church plants.  A couple of times,
I was able to take some people from our launch team as well, which was
really cool.  I wanted to post an overview of some of my thoughts in no
particular order and not necessarily reflective on one particular
church.

1. Ridgestone wins the award for best setup in a movie theater.  Mill Creek did a
great job at creating a children’s environment in a movie theater, and their children’s pastor was awesome.
Lake Point was very friendly in a school environment…friendly and helpful.  Center Point
Church
in Lexington was doing a great job of spreading the word about
the church.

2. Start on time. Get in the habit of starting on time no matter
what and your people will get in the habit of being on time.  Have
something great right off the bat, so if people are late, they miss
it.  I’ve heard from a couple of different places that people make
their decisions to come back or not to come back VERY early.

3.  Put friendly people at the doors and on your stage.  We went to
a couple of churches that really didn’t come across friendly right from
the beginning – it took a while for them to welcome us.  Your people
that are just welcoming and friendly and friendly looking…they need to
be greeters.  Where’s the rule that the pastor always has to do the
welcome?  You can’t put a price tag on creating a welcoming
environment.  It takes a lot of work, but there’s a big payoff.

4. Lighting helps creates environment.  A couple of the movie
theater churches I attended were just too dark.  This was great for
video and worship, but not so good for the message.  It’s hard to write
things down in the dark.  Shoot some par lighting at the ceiling, I
don’t know…I’m not a lighting guy.  But too much darkness (or too much
daylight) can really affect the atmosphere.

5. Coffee and fruit and muffins and bagels at several churches were
really nice touches.  They were done with excellence nearly every time,
and it looked like some sharp volunteers were all over this.  This went
a long way towards creating a welcoming environment and increase the
“hang-out factor” before the service.  Rigdgestone had a great coffee
area.  Mill Creek had Krispy Kreme donuts.

6. Look for some little ways to create wow experiences.  Maybe it’s
a sticker on a  baby’s diaper that says “I’ve just been changed.”
Maybe you make pens available (that’s not all that exciting, but if you
ask people to take notes or write things down, give them a pen).  Make
your bulletin and signage match your series.  We’re going to take a
staff meeting and just talk about the little things we can do  to
create wow experiences.  (Share yours.)

7.  I’ve got lots of thoughts to post later about words on the
screen.  But if you have a special song that the band plays, always put
the lyrics on the screen.  It’s hard to understand words to songs you
don’t know.  And you should never have more than four lines of text on
one screen.

8.  Signs are important.  Figure out how many signs you need to direct
people to parking, childcare and bathrooms, and then double that
number. Put signs outside and in hallways and in front of rooms.
Signs aren’t that expensive and they make things a ton easier on
guests.  If you’re meeting in a rented facility that already has signs
up (school signs, movie posters, etc.) you need bigger and better signs
that really stand out.

9. Make sure you have enough stage lights.  Setting lights only at
wide angles creates distracting shadows.  Again I say unto you,
lighting is important.

10. Relevance and truth are not mutually exclusive.  I know modern,
post modern, emergent, contemporary, etc. churches often get a bad rap
about this, but these two words are not polar opposites.  Most of these
churches were relevant as well as being true to God’s word.  Lots of
scripture references.  Lots of sharing God’s truth not just man’s
opinion.  When this is done in a relevant, excellent way, it really
hits home.  It’s possible to throw truth out there and make no
difference because people don’t understand it. 

11.    Bonus:  I’ve got a pretty short attention span.  Unless you’re Andy Stanley,
you probably shouldn’t teach more than 45 minutes.  (And if you ARE
Andy Stanley, thanks for reading my blog.) That’s just a long time to
teach and people tune out and forget everything you say.  I’m not
saying you need to teach for 20 minutes, but you cannot talk for an
hour and expect to keep people’s attention.

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