Archive for November, 2007|Monthly archive page

Teaching Tables

Lots of you ask where we got the truss podium that we used on Sunday.  I first saw it in use at Elevation, and we ordered it from Displays to go.  Here’s a link.

But then I realized that the video of our service looked exactly like Elevation, so I got rid of it and ordered a new teaching table.  Here’s a link to that one.


Three Ways to Keep People Coming to Your Church

I think there are three big areas that will get people to come to your church. Here at Oak Leaf Church, we’re constantly evaluating and tweaking these things. Running through all of them is the God-factor, because you could do all this stuff, leave God out of it, and fall on your face. So, with that understood, here’s the three areas:

1. Advertising and Outreach. In order for your church to grow, you’re going to need new people to come. Just like a restaurant needs people to come try it out, you want people to invest their time and come to church. There are churches out there that don’t do advertising (I think of Rob Bell’s church), but instead do a bunch of community service – which I think turns into advertising. The bottom line is that the word has to get out. You’ve got direct mail, serving, community outreach, road signs, door hangers, invite cards, billboards, e-mail blasts, and a bunch of other tools at your disposal. If you want your church to grow, what can you to do go after new people?

2. The experience. When someone goes to a new restaurant, they want to have a good experience. The food, the service and the decor need to meet or exceed their expectations, or they won’t go back. When people come to your church service, do they leave happy that they spent the time there? Did you give them something that will matter to their real life? Did they encounter God? In other words, you’ve got to make sure the service is the best it can be. What can you do to improve your overall experience? Maybe it’s as simple as walking through your facility with the eyes of a first time guest, or tweaking how you do the welcome or announcements, or cancelling a meeting so you can work on your message. By the way, the experience factor isn’t just limited to adults…it works for kids, too. Parents will ask their kids if it was worth it.

3. Connection. One of the reasons people come back is because there is a meaningful connection to another person (sometimes it’s the pastor, but most of the times, it’s someone else), or a team. I met a greeter Sunday who said to me, “Do you know what I love about Oak Leaf? It’s that you guys let me serve.” There is a person that is connected to a team of people who are serving. She is needed and missed when she’s not there. Teenagers do this all the time – they make decisions about where to go based on who is going, not just on what it is. Adults really aren’t that different. People want to feel connected to what’s happening. They need to buy in and believe.

Attendance Dips

I think one of the signs that a church is too enamored with numbers is that they only print them when they are good. Now, I want to see more people come to Oak Leaf Church – of course – but it’s not just about attracting a crowd. In fact, since we’ve moved to Woodland, our attendance has gone down – from about 850 to about 700. We lost 150 people in the move. Here’s some of the reasons I think that happened.

1. It was a 17 minute move. About 8 miles through the town. Some people that were coming from a little town nearby decided not to make the additional drive. We believe we had to make the move to a larger venue, and there is technically a higher population density at our new location, but it was still a long move. Woodland is kind of on the edge of the county – the movie theater was in the middle of town. I wish we didn’t lose people over distance, but it’s just one of those things. Coincidently, I do know people that drive more than an hour to come to Oak Leaf Church, and we have some great college students that drive down from Rome.

2. We no longer offered the early 8:45 service. With the move, service times moved to 9:30 and 11:00, and I know of a few people that attended that early service and then went to their own church. I’m okay with this, because we weren’t having church services for church people that are actively involved in another church. There were about 150 people attending that early service, so we basically lost a whole service’s worth of people.

3. I know people left because of our stance on some of the Issues that I talked about during the Issues series. Some people left because I was too hard on an issue (homosexuality, for example). I know at least one person that left because they thought I was too soft on an issue (drinking). I’m okay with people leaving over this, because we’re not going to shy away from the issues because they are tough to tackle. On the drinking message, I even began with stating that I could be wrong completely. 🙂

4. The vibe changed a bit. We’re still the same church. Our music and my messages are the same, but the room is bigger. We don’t have the giant lobby with the coffee and I think that really contributed to the personal feeling we had at the old place. We’ve worked hard on this, but the venue is just different. The movie theater was our first and only meeting location, and there was a lot of sentimental value there. Even I miss it. If we could have stayed, we would have, because we loved it. It was easy to invite people and everybody knew where it was. Maybe sometime next year, we will go back and open a campus there. We have a strategy where we could have one church in two locations and we’re praying through it.

Next time, I’ll talk about some things that didn’t change with the move.

PreService Mix #2

Once people get inside the auditorium, the preservice music changes a bit. It’s a little more chilled and relaxed. Here’s an iMix.

Marking is Outreach

I always recommend that pastors and church planters become the expert in their church on marketing. Marketing and advertising isn’t secular – it can be a form of outreach. You should read marketing books, and the best one I’ve read is Buzz Marketing.

I promise you’ll get some good ideas that you can use. It doesn’t mean that the church isn’t a spiritual thing, and you can market and fall flat on your face if you’re not walking with God. But if you love Jesus and want to reach people, this book can help you.

If You Were Going to Plant a Church…

…where would you go?  What city, town or zip code needs a new church?  Where is there a huge opportunity to make an impact on the Kingdom?

Pictures of Setup

Several of you have asked for some pictures of our setup.  Here ya go.

Setting Up Video Across Three Sreens

When we moved to Woodland, we upgraded our video stuff. We have three 16×9 (in feet, not just in ratio) that serve as our backdrop. We can split an image across all three screens, and over lay words on all screens or just the side screens. We also have two tvs that generally show supplemental video or a series graphic. And we did it all for about 30% of what it should have cost.

Will is writing about the specifics of the setup on his blog, so if you want to know how we do it, check it out.

Preservice Mixes

We play mostly secular music in our lobby on Sunday mornings. Popular stuff, even country. This is a great way to connect with people and let them know that you’re regular people before they even sit in the service. I scan through the iTunes Top 100 list and buy popular songs. Current songs in the playlist include:

  • Big Girls Don’t Cry, Fergie
  • Every Mile a Memory, Dierks Bentley
  • Home, Daughtry
  • Let Love In, Goo Goo Dolls
  • Lost in this Moment, Big & Rich
  • Shadowplay, The Killers
  • Typical, Mute Math
  • Umbrella, Marie Digby
  • Neverending, David Crowder

Here’s the iMix where you can buy the songs straight from iTunes.

Membership Class

Last month, we did a membership class right after the second service. We had about 70 people attend. We’ve experimented with different formats, and so far, we like this one the best. Since it was right after church, we served food and provided childcare. The class is one hour.

At the class, I take about 10 minutes and tell my story and the story of how Oak Leaf started. Then I just go through the 5 G’s – the five things we want people to do.

After that, I just answer a few questions. It’s all very conversational. We give out the membership application and a card with a link to this hidden page on our website. There, people can download much more in depth information and our statement of beliefs.