Archive for the ‘Sunday’ Category

Saturday Night vs. Sunday Night Services

We knew we needed to choose either Saturday or Sunday night for an additional service at our new place, so I thought I would let you know why we chose Saturday night.

We talked to a lot of people, checked out a ton of church websites, talked about it in our team, and said a lot of prayers. In the end, I feel like Saturday night will allow us to reach people who do not know Christ or attend Church a little better than a Sunday night would.

In our area, churches have Sunday night services, and they are generally attended by the highly churched.  Nothing wrong with that, but we’re not trying to reach that demographic. I feel like Saturday night is a night out for a lot of people, and that they might make church a part of their night.

A few other reasons…

#1 – We’ve got a ton of families with children, and Sunday night is a school night.

#2 – We feel like we can develop an identity on Saturday night…no other churches are doing Saturday nights in our area. I think we can really gain some momentum and reach new people. We’ve got a full-blown coffee shop in our building, and I’m hoping that people will connect over coffee before or after the evening service.

#3 – One of the most common reasons we heard about churches doing Sunday night over Saturday night was because of staff. Saturday nights are hard for staff. But we don’t do Wednesday night stuff, we aren’t busy with night meetings throughout the week. We’ll do some things to make sure that we’re taking care of people, but our staff is committed to reaching people, and I think we could all give a night a week to that mission.

Multiple Services

I’m amazed when I hear about growing churches who are out of space and considering expanding, yet they only have one service on Sunday. If you’ve only got one service on Sunday morning, and your church has more than 100 people in it, you should move to two services right away. Here’s why.

1. Good stewardship. Don’t go spend money on expansion until you are having as many services as you can in your current facility. We do four services on Sunday morning, and though it wears me out, I can rest the next day. I’m not spending money on bigger facilities only to use them 2 hours a week.

2. It’s better for your volunteers. People say they don’t want multiple service because it’s hard on volunteers. Umm…just the opposite is true. When you have two services, your volunteers can serve one and work one. You can also do away with administering volunteer rotations.

3. It gives people options. People that don’t go to church like options. People in general like options, which is why restaurants serve different things and they make 734 kinds of toothpaste. Some people like an earlier service; some people like to sleep in. Some people would rather go on Saturday night. Give people options, don’t make them cater to your preferences.

EVERY time we have added a service time, we have grown. Multiple services are the way to go.

Virtual Tour

We’re honored to host church planters on a regular basis, and show them everything we do on Sunday mornings at the theater.  But everyone can’t make it on a Sunday, so I filmed a video basically walking people around, showing you how we do things.  Hopefully, it’s the next best thing to visiting in person.  Let us know if you have any questions or if you see anything we can do better.

Last Sunday of the Year = No Services?

I know there are a lot of churches that cancel services on the last Sunday of the year, and I’m not dogging that.  Here’s why we don’t do it.

Sunday only happens once a week, and we want to use every opportunity we have to gather people to hear about Jesus.  People generally go to church on Sunday, and we gear up for 52 big days every single year.

The most common reason people site for canceling services is to honor and thank all their volunteers. While I understand the sentiment, I don’t really get the point.  Our volunteers love to serve and they look forward to Sundays.  Plus, killing people for 51 weeks and then giving them a week off isn’t really appreciating them.  Your volunteers should always be able to take a week if necessary.

There’s a good chance that guests and people who need Jesus would attend your church on the last Sunday of the year.

Not everybody goes out of town or checks out.  In fact, in this economy, I bet more people stayed home and would appreciate something to do that doesn’t involve going to the mall.  We nearly had our ten week average attendance on the last Sunday of the year.

It’s a great opportunity to do something special – like the Lord’s Supper (like we did), or look back on what God did in your church during the year (like NewSpring did).

By the way, I don’t think churches that cancel services are less spiritual or don’t care about reaching lost people.  I’m just sharing a few reasons off the top of my head why we do church at the end of the year.

Killing the Connection Card

About ten weeks ago, we made the decision to kill the handout and connection card in our services.  No handouts, no fill-in-the-blank communication cards.  We’re pushing people to the Next Step area where there is a real person, and to the web and weekly email where there are all the announcements.

We’re still evaluating, but I thought I would update you on one facet.

For the previous ten weeks, we’ve gotten information from an average of 9.8 first time guest families.  This happens when they check in kids, stop by the Next Step table, or write a check.

For the ten weeks before that (when we had the connection card in our services), we had an average of 9.36 contacts a week.

Our attendance has gone up a little bit during that time, so it’s not exactly a wash, but it’s pretty close.  We will keep tracking some stuff and seeing what we can learn.  Having no handout and no connection card in a church like ours is kind of risky, but we haven’t seen a big backlash or a huge drop in information collected.

Standing Announcements

I’m convinced that we should make the same five announcements over and over again in our services. The things that we do on a regular basis matter far more than the one time special event, but we forget to give them stage time. Things like…

  • Journey Groups – why we do them and how to get involved
  • KidVenture – what are the values over there and what are kids learning
  • Recommended resources available in the lobby
  • Partnership is a next step

Teaching Table

After looking for about 8 months for a decent teaching table, ruling out the $1400 custom truss podium that was really cool, and wearing out some cheap thing we bought when we first started, I’ve found a teaching table that I actually like.  And it’s from Target.  And it came with free shipping.  It arrived today and will be in use on Sunday.

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Church in a Movie Theater

Lots of people call and e-mail about how church in a movie theater works, so I thought I would write my thoughts here.

1.  We love meeting in a movie theater.  It makes us immediately different from every other church.  We play to that in our marketing and try to take advantage of "church at the movies."  We print it on t-shirts and signs and most of our outside advertising.

2.  The most important thing hands down is your relationship with the local manager.  He or she can make life great or make life miserable.  From the beginning, we’ve gone out of our way to do more than what is expected.  We give gifts.  We check in for no reason.  We ask if we’re doing everything we can do.  In return, our managers take care of us.  We haven’t had ANY problems with Carmike – we love working with them.  We do not have a contract, so things could change for us quickly, but so far – so good.

3.  The most stressful thing is being out on time.  Movies start at different times based on what’s out, so we have to be out anywhere from 11:30 to 1:00.  Most of the time, movies don’t start until 1:00 so we’re okay, but in the summer, that all changes.  We have to alter what we do.  Going to two services was tough, and we have to stay on time with our services.  We would love to do three services, but time doesn’t allow it.

4.  Our guys get to the theater around 5:30  to start setting up (first service is at 9:00).  We set up a stage, lights, sound, a video projector (we use their screen), and a whole bunch of kids stuff.  It takes a lot of time, but it looks good.  We set up a bunch of stuff in the lobby to make it feel like a church.  As my friend Gary says, don’t let being portable turn into an excuse for being lazy.  Ridgestone does some of the best sets I’ve seen.  It can be done, but you have to work at it.  I guess we don’t HAVE to use a backdrop on Sunday, but we set up some truss and a backdrop every week because it’s little touches that really make a difference.  Our sound team actually unbolts a couple of chairs to fit in our insanely huge sound board.

5.  We use the front of theaters, hallways, the birthday room, and the lobby.  What you use depends on the particular theater you rent.  For kids, we use the front of theaters and it’s tough overcoming the darkness and the space.   We are looking into some ways to step it up in this particular area.

6.  The theater we use for adult worship has 282 seats, 260 of which are usable for us because of our setup.  We outgrew one service and started a second one back in January.  Our 10:15 service is still full, so we’re making the decision about what to do next.  I wish the theater was bigger.

7.  We use a lot of lights in our adult service.  However many lights you think you need, double it.  We use a lot, and we still need more.  Movie theaters are very dark.

8.  We set up an info table and a resource table in the lobby.  We use an iPod and a big speaker dock thing to play music in the lobby. 

9.  You need some great people to pull off a good setup.  We have awesome volunteers.  I don’t know of a church that does portable very well that doesn’t have great volunteers.  I don’t know of a good church period that doesn’t have great volunteers.

Anybody else that does church in a movie theater have anything to add?

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Solving the Electrical Problem

Since we meet in a movie theater on Sunday, and bring in a great deal of sound and lighting equipment, powering this stuff became quite an issue.  Most schools and movie theaters aren’t equipped with appropriate electrical service.  We thought about paying for an additional electrical service in the main theater, but this turned out too be too expensive.  Plus, if we ever had to change theaters or move locations, it’s money wasted.

So we settled on a big generator.  One of our people brings a big generator and puts it outside the back door of the theater.  We power all our lights this way.  It’s pretty easy.  We get it far away from the door so you can’t hear it.  And it works great.  A simple, portable solution to our problem.

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Quick Excellence Tip #46

Don’t ever use those clear acrylic sign holders to display your information.  Go to Target and get a nice 8.5 x 11 frame, print your sign, and display it that way.  It’s so simple, and much better looking.

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