What I Learned From School Churches

As part of my July study break, I visited four churches the last two Sundays to see how they do church in the school building setting. Chesterfield County is extremely receptive to schools renting their buildings on Sundays. And since we will be moving from the movie theater to Tomahawk Creek Middle School in January, I thought it would be a good chance to see first hand how school churches set up and function.

I was well received at all four schools. I was right up front as I arrived at the door. I explained that we were moving into a school and would like to check out how they did church each week. I was given unlimited access to all the set up areas at all the churches.

After my visits I sat down and listed what I learned from my school church experience. Here’s the findings.

If we get in-house storage at TCMS we will be the only one I am aware of at a school in this county.
It is not the quality of materials but the excellence, warmth and energy of the people that made the biggest difference.
People will travel long distances for these elements.
Exponential growth can take place in a school setting.
Everything needs to be clearly marked with appropriate signage.
Each children’s department needs professionally designed signage.
Storage units need to be compact and easily transportable.
All four churches served beverages.
Beverages and just light snacks were served at the fastest growing church.
Preschool areas can be effectively set up in wide hall areas.
K-5th grade needs a larger assembly area with breakout capacity.
The most traditional church had the least guests.
The friendliest church was the fastest growing one.
I was spoken to by the first three people I met leaving early worship, walking to their car, at the fastest growing church.
Rear projection is great.
You can do the entire set up in an hour even without on site storage.
Praying together before services for all set up people was a common practice.
It would be a good idea to visit a school church to get first hand insight.
Video messaging is catching on.
The welcome area can be scaled down and still be effective.
None of the churches offered CD’s of messages, at least I didn’t see any.
Wearing matching florescent t-shirts is a great way to identify children’s workers.
Service times advertised on their website are not always correct.
The fastest growing church gave me a VIP personal tour of their operation.
Schools are cleaner, smell better and are better lighted than theaters.
We are the only church that offers our own apparel line.

So there you have it. It was a great experience as we begin to make our initial relocation and relaunch plans to Tomahawk Creek Middle School.


Summer Study Break

2007 was the first year I decided to take a summer study break to prepare for the next calendar year and teaching schedule for the church. The break consists of four weeks, two of which are suppose to be vacation and two planning for the future. The problem is that the weeks get run together and begin to intertwine with each other. I need to get better at drawing the line between planning and vacation.

I personally think the summer break is the best decision I have ever made in ministry. If not the best, it’s in the top three.

Since leaving on Sunday afternoon, June 29 here’s some of the things we have done or enjoyed;

Visited our kids and daughter in laws in Cinci
Spent time with Audrey our granddaughter
Attended the North American Christian Convention for three and a half days
Ate UDF peach ice cream
Ate at the best restaurant in the world, Cheddars, twice
Celebrated Sharon’s birthday on the 4th of July (Don’t ask the age.)
Enjoyed fireworks in Lexington, KY
Spent eight days with our son, daughter in law and Sawyer in Lexington
(Spent most of that time taking care of Sawyer. Won’t do that one again.
Four days will be the max at kids house from here on out.)
Visited the church in Troy, Oh where I preached before launching NVCC
(All the family attended and we had a big reunion)
Got coffee from my two most favorite coffee shops, Winans and Night Sky
Checked out the 28 acres where the Troy church will relocate to in 09
Slept on an air mattress that didn’t stay up (Do any of them)
Attended Southland Christian Church, a church of about 9000 in Lex
Drove 1500 miles
Recovered from a pulled hamstring suffered during kickball Wednesdays
Attended kickball Wednesday and sat
Prepared the church preaching schedule for this fall and the entire year of 09
Met with Jeff Ellick, principle of Tomahawk Creek Middle School
Read four books, so far
Prayed with and served communion to a dear lady who only has a few wks to live
Listened to numerous CD’s of teaching and music
Ordered materials for future teaching series
Ordered new corn hole bags for kickball Wednesday
Developed a plan for our vision team for the fall
Had my pacer checked
Scheduled a routine colonoscopy for next Wednesday
Ordered and picked up new church signs
Reworked parts of Discovery 101 and 201
Wrote updated welcome letter for first time visitors
Researched blogging and enhanced my own blog
Began preparation for August 3 message
Ate breakfast at IHOPS, twice
Grilled steaks
Enjoyed my outdoor shower

I’ll stop for now because I am tired and need a rest, and I still have ten days of the study break to go. I miss you all and look forward to returning. I am going to visit a few thriving churches in the area the next couple Sundays to see what I can learn from them.

I can’t wait to unpack the plans for the fall and 2009 for NV. Great things are ahead.