Archive for May, 2007|Monthly archive page

Where We Get Stuff

Several of you have emailed asking who does our website, where we get the metal series tins, and who prints stuff for us.  Here you go.

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How Volunteer Central Works

Our greatest asset on Sunday mornings is our team of volunteers.  People are drawn to our church for many reasons: Michael’s teaching, our incredible band, our “cool” location (most people in Cartersville have never heard of a church meeting in a movie theater), but the reason people keep coming back is our volunteer team.

We have over 150 volunteers that serve at least once a month on Sundays.  About 75 of those are serving on any given Sunday.  So that we can stay connected to our volunteers each week, we set up a volunteer check-in room called Volunteer Central, located in the tiny Birthday Room off one side of the lobby.

From an organizational standpoint, Volunteer Central allows us to know who is there and how many folks to deduct from the count for that day because they are there during both hours of ministry.  More importantly, Volunteer Central allows us to give a personal greeting to all of our volunteers, and lets us say “thanks for serving” every week.  Volunteers love it when they are known and appreciated.

I would say that I know by name, 90% of the volunteers who serve.  That’s a lot of people’s names to remember, but I love knowing their names because it allows me to personally thank them and encourage them. Here’s how it works:

We keep wo sets of volunteer rosters for workers to sign in – one for KidVenture volunteers (children’s ministry) and one for all the other volunteers.  We separated them out because KidVenture workers have special numbered lanyards for their area for security reasons. Each roster has the name of the volunteer (last name first) and where they serve.  There is a box to indicate if the volunteer will be at church during both hours of ministry and another box to indicate how many of their children will be at church during both hours.  There is also a box to update email addresses.

Kids teachers pick up their rolls, lead teachers pick up walkie-talkies, and every volunteer picks up a lanyard.  We give every volunteer a little half sheet of announcements – The Inside Scoop – with has extra announcements and insider information.

We open at 8:20 a.m. for volunteers to begin checking in.  We encourage all volunteers to check-in between 8:20 a.m. and 8:45 a.m.  This allows them to get in place before guests arrive.  We even expect those who serve during the 10:15 a.m. service to sign in that early.  We want them to attend the worship service during the hour they’re not serving, so they should be at church early anyway.

We have two separate tables for check-in: one for KidVenture volunteers and one for all other others.  The rosters stay in the same place each week, to avoid confusion. As people enter the room, we call them by name (if possible), say a quick encouraging word, make sure they get all the gear they need for that day (including gum) and thank them for serving.

Volunteers return lanyards, roll sheets, offerings from the children, and radios to Volunteer Central at the end of their hour of service.  Children’s volunteers check off that their lanyard was returned. At the end of the day, our Pastor of Administration takes the rosters and counts how many were at church during both hours of ministry.  He then deducts the number from the total count for the day, giving us our total attendance for the day.

We have found that Volunteer Central is a crucial part of the success of Sunday morning and integral part of encouraging our volunteers.

– Tim (Connections Pastor)

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Click Resources

Here’s a zip file with message notes, Keynote presentations and graphics for a series called "Click."  We talked about Play (getting involved and volunteering), Fast Forward (the vision of the church), Rewind (the Gospel) and Skip (baptism).


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Updated Podcast Links

If you’re having trouble getting the latest podcast episode, you might need to re-subscribe.  Here’s a link to subscribe with iTunes.  Here’s a link to the RSS feed where you can just listen online.

We have also updated the Oak Leaf Leaders podcast and blog.  Just go to
There we provide training and encouragement for our leaders and
volunteers.  There’s a link there to the RSS feed of the blog and a
subscribe link to subscribe with iTunes.

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PreService Mix

Here’s an iMix of some of the tunes that we play in the lobby and in the theater before and after the service starts.

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Behind the Scenes @ OLC

We’ve been meeting for nine months, and we’re happy to share what we do with other portable churches and church planters.  The pictures below are from May 27, 2007.  There are some others in the photo album to the right.

This is our coffee table.  We use a banner we hand printed (was a three peice section at one point) hung between two display stands and a little metal starbucks sign that we bought off of ebay.  We brew the coffee out of sight and let people come up and help themselves from the airpots. 

We run most of the adult service from one MacBook Pro.  We use ProPresenter for the song lyrics and videos, and Keynote for the message.  We have a great volunteer who creates the Keynote presentation and two or three very cool people who setup all the video stuff each week and run the services.

This is our information and resource center.  It’s straight ahead at 12:00 when you walk in the front doors of the theater.  We use some pipe and drape for the background and a couple stands to display some shirts.  Two skirted tables with information and products.  It’s run by 2-4 volunteers on Sunday mornings.

Kids check in is pretty basic.  Two tables and some registration cards.  We use for two part sticker labels.  This area is staffed with some volunteers.  We use the ropes of the movie theater to further rope off this area.  Only parents and kids with proper labels and adults with security lanyards are allowed in.

This is a basic kids class, nothing too fancy.  We use the front of the theaters to create a classroom.  Some of our best volunteers are over in KidVenture.  It’s one of the most important things we do every week. We’re actually about to redesign and reinvent the kids area.  It will re-launch this fall when school starts and kids move to new classes.

Here is a close up of some of the stuff on our resource table.  We have four different t-shirts right now, as well as a few popular worship CDs and a few popular books.  Today, we had a clearance sale on shirts because we want to clear them out to get some new ones.  If we order 100 t-shirts, we generally use Bargain Tees.

When a series is over, an awesome volunteer named Mark takes all the messages, burns them to CD and puts them in this packaging.  We don’t sell a whole bunch of these, and sometimes we give messages away for free.  We podcast our messages, so only those who can’t figure out how to work iTunes and the Internet buy them.

This is how we set up the projector in the movie theater to project onto the big screen.  It’s a heavy duty tripod, with a little custom shelf built for the top.  This was the creation of our sound guy.  It allows us to adjust the thing at every possible angle, and it doesn’t take up much space or block anyones view.  Very simple, very small, and very effective.  We really want to get a brighter HD projector, and if someone wants to write me an $8,000 check, I’d gladly make the upgrade. 🙂  When you are portable, you improvise.  There are lots of solutions to problems, and lots of people can brainstorm solutions.

This is our sound board and effects rack.  Brad actually removes a couple of seats every week to fit this beast in the theater.  It’s a 56 channel Midas console and who knows how many effects processors.  Brad is one of the best sound guys I’ve ever worked with.  All the speakers, processors and amps actually belong to him, and he’s been letting us use all the gear since we started the church.  It’s really good stuff and the theater sounds amazing every Sunday morning.  Brad and his wife are some of our best volunteers. I couldn’t imagine Oak Leaf Church without them.

This is our basic stage setup.  The main area is 12×24 and about 40 inches high.  It actually goes over the front row of seats.  We set up a truss and attach a black backdrop.  There’s some stage lighting attached at various places, but most of our lights are elsewhere.  Our setup guys get to the theater before 6 AM (first service is at 9) to get all this setup. 

By far, one of the simplest things and most effective things we do is check in all our volunteers.  We use the birthday room at the movie theater.  Tim (our connections pastor) checks off all the volunteers and gives them a lanyard.  Kids lanyards are numbered so we can be sure to get them all back.  Every greeter, kids worker, counselor, and usher gets some kind of OLC lanyard.  Volunteer Check In gives us face time with every volunteer.  We know who is late.  We have the opportunity to thank them personally.  We give the greeters gum or mints. 🙂  Tim does a great job leading this environment.  All our volunteers check in 30 minutes before the first service.

These are some of things we do every Sunday morning.  Hope it helps.

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Guest Surveys

We send a thank for coming e-mail to every first time guest.  In that e-mail, we provide a link to a guest survey.  We use a free service called Icebrrg. Here’s a link to our survey.

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Other Communicators

We’re blessed to have a couple of guys on our team that can teach.  But I don’t just turn things over and ignore what happens.  This church isn’t built around me, so I don’t have to teach 52 weeks out of the year.  But on the weeks that I’m not teaching, I will help our guys do the best they can.  I’m ultimately responsible for everything that gets taught.  Here’s the email I just sent a couple of our guys who will be teaching some this summer during the "God @ the Movies" series.

Two weeks before the Sunday, I would like to see  your one main message idea, key scripture, and any key metaphor.  i really want  you to focus on communicating ONE THING.  Everything you say needs to back up the one driving principle or point.  If you have three points, then you’ll make no point.    I’m going to stay on your case about keeping it focused and simple.  I think my driving gift is teaching and I want to leverage that to help  you guys do the best job you can in communicating to this church.

One week before, I want to see your completed message.  Written out however you want it.  But everything needs to be there.  It needs to be your completed message, worked out like you were delivering it right then.  I am going to review it and make notes and comments.  I’m going to be as bad as your worst English teacher and mark it up.  Again, I want you to do the best you can do, so don’t get offended.  It’s my job to make sure we communicate clearly and effectively.  We get 52 weekends a year, and probably about 40 with even our most committed members to communicate for life change. 

Tuesday of that week, you’ll send your message notes and any related materials to Todd, who will create Keynote.  He’ll send that to you by Thursday so you can review it.  No changes after Thursday night.

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Working with the Movie Theater

Two months before our first preview service, we had no idea where the church would meet.  We’d been working on the movie theater and got the go ahead just in time.  It’s been our home for the first nine months of our church.  We’ve grown from 140 people at that first preview service to nearly 550 last Sunday.  We’ve gone from using one theater and some hallways for children, to using a bunch of theaters.  We have a GREAT relationship with Carmike and with the local management.  We’ve never had a problem – they have been very flexible, and we just love working with them. 

I think a key in dealing with a theater (or school or other rented facility for that matter) is to simply be a nice person.  This is so simple, but so many people don’t do it.  Being nice will go a long way, not to mention it’s a Christian thing to do.  We’ve had the privilege to work with two different managers and we’ve liked both of them and we’ve been nice to both of them.

How do you act nice?  I go by during the week sometimes with no agenda, just to say hey.  We get extra donuts and leave them for the staff.  We do what’s expected of us.  We are kind with our words.  We chit-chat with the staff.  We give Christmas presents.  I don’t act like a jerk. (that’s hard for me sometimes)  Last week, the manager asked us if we would promote the Children’s Miracle Network fundraiser that they are doing to our people…we’re glad to do it.

I understand that the place we use for church doesn’t make their income from us – they show movies.  We’re guests.  And we act like guests.  We don’t complain about things and we pay our bills.

Because we are nice, when we need something, we can ask.  We’re working on getting Internet access so we can go to online check in of our kids.  We were able to get a Pod and put it behind the theater.  We didn’t ask for this on day one…we built a relationship and asked naturally.

A bunch of the employees come to work early on Sunday so they can attend the service.  The very nice lady who takes tickets comes to part of the message every week (the music is too loud for her) and she calls us "our church."  She’s the one who got me free movies.  Some of the employees actually help us tear down! 

So if you’re portable in a theater or school…that’s my advice.  Be nice!

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Why We Advertise: Part Three

We think advertising is a form of outreach, so we want to give it our best shot.  I wanted to just give a couple tips on advertising.

1.  Play to your strengths.  Get your team, or some volunteers together, and ask this question:  what makes us different from every other church?  For us, it was pretty easy.  We meet in the only movie theater in town, so we chose that as our angle.  All of our advertising played up "church in the movies."  We didn’t really focus on our kids program, contemporary music, or anything else.  Trying to promote everything results in promoting nothing.  Pick one angle, your strongest angle, and go with it. 

2.  One thing won’t cut it.  Don’t think a direct mail will save the day.  Or a road sign.  The power comes when you do a combination of thing.  When people get a postcard, see a sign, and then someone invites them…that’s gold.  You need to diversify.  I don’t think putting all your $$ in a billboard is smart – you can get more bang for your buck.

3.  You have to commit to do things more than once.  It takes time to build name recognition.  One postcard isn’t good enough.  You should commit to several.  Do one, then do another similar looking one three weeks later.  Send it to the same people.  If you have enough money to send out 10,000 postcards.  Send 5,000 and then send another 5,000 to the same people three weeks later.  You will get better results.

4.  You don’t have to spend a ton of money.  We’ve done helium balloons, invite cards and door hangers.  Those were all cheaper than direct mail.  I would encourage you to spend as much as you can on this – without sacrificing quality of your program or church.  You can’t advertise a big event and then have the event stink, but you can have the greatest event in the world, and if people don’t know about it, they won’t come.  Read through the archives here and I like to all the people we’ve used for print and promotional stuff.

5.  Advertise creative series.  We didn’t send out a postcard when we went through Jonah.  But we did the next month when we talked about sex.  Market your most creative and interesting sounding things.  We generally advertise an upcoming series – not just the church or the kids ministry. 

6.  Read a book called Buzz Marketing.  It’s not a Christian book, so you know there will be some good insights in there.  🙂

7.  Don’t use stock designs and templates.  Design stuff yourself.  Find a really cool image at  Get a freelance person to do some design work.  Find a college students.  Make sure your advertising looks like YOU.  This will help you play to your strengths as a church.

8.  Don’t do the same thing other churches are doing.  If six other churches do direct mail in your area, I’d find something else to do. 

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