Today was different. Pretty much every Sunday of the year I am either at New Psalmist serving or preaching out at another church. Very rarely do I have the opportunity to attend or visit another church. Well today I had that opportunity.
In Phoenix for a conference this week and we decided to try out a new church. My big brother Armando Fullwood, Executive Director of WAVE, suggested that we check out Sun Valley Church Church's Gilbert Campus. We agreed and began to plan out or visit.
I started at their website. From the moment I clicked on, I knew that this was the place to go. Everything was designed for making a potential guest, like me, feel welcomed and excited about attending their worship service. They were intentional about making the experience as convenient as possible. There were even directions for where to park as a first-time guest!
We decided to attend the 9AM service. Pulling up to the campus, we began looking for the New Here, Park Here signage. Excited, we parked and walked up to the building. The team members greeted us with smiles and welcomes. They directed us to the first-time guest information area where we learned more about the church.
Taking our seats in the middle section, the video announcements shared upcoming events. Then praise and worship began. The worship was engaging and ushered us into the presence of the Lord. Pastor Chad preached via pre-recorded video, but we thought he was physically there! The technology is designed to enhance the ministry vision. Worship in surround is revolutionary!!!
As the service concluded, we spent some time walking around the campus, chatting with team members. Each touch point of the ministry embodied the culture of the church. From the children and student teams, to the greeters and production staff, everyone made us feel like we were home.
Driving off the lot, my mind was flooded with ideas and concepts for ministry. What happens from the pulpit is great, but the experience from discovery to arrival, to the people you encounter on the way end is just as important. The worship can be great and the preacher amazing, but if the parking lot leaves you confused and frustrated, it's all a waste. We must not think about making church work for those who are already there, we must think about the people who are coming for the first-time. It's not about us!
This must be the mission the Church. We must think about the people who are looking for Christ and desiring a connection with His Church. This is the season for us as church leaders and ministry workers to change our bait. There are some things of the old that we need to let go of. Not because it's bad, but rather there are new opportunities to reach new people. After all, the mission of the church is to make disciples of ALL people...