Every Sunday I walk the halls of Mountain Lake Church (MLC) greeting people and paying close attention to our systems that result in people either having a positive or a negative experience. At MLC we are constantly telling people that we will change the way they think about church. We do this so we might ultimately change the way they think about Jesus. Paying attention to our systems is an important part of this process. Why? Because your church can only care for people to the extent your systems can handle them.
Put yourself in the place of someone who is disconnected from Christ and the church for a moment. You are attending for the first time in years. You turn right heading toward the campus a few minutes before the service. Parking is unclear and a bit congested. It takes you several uncomfortable minutes to figure it out and find a parking place. Next you are a bit confused about where to enter the building and what to do with your two preschoolers. You find someone wondering the halls that might be a Children’s teacher. They are obviously rushed, but they help somewhat. While you are getting your child checked-in you hear the band crank up, you’re late. You drop the kids off. One is crying the others okay. You find the auditorium and enter in. It’s dark so it takes a moment to adjust your eyes. People are standing and singing which intensifies your search for a seat. You finally settle on one in the front row, you make your way up right as the lights come up. You are late for the service, a little frazzled, but at least you made it. About that time a script comes up on the corner of the worship screen, “Will the parent of child #438 please see their child’s teacher immediately”. You look at your handwritten sticker, it looks like 488, no it’s 438. It’s your child. Thirty minutes after you arrive, you are headed home. You think, “Maybe I will try it again in a few weeks…maybe not.”
That’s why every weekend I make my way around the halls, poking my head inside classrooms, and making sure I sit through at least one of our services. People matter! Often we have only one shot with someone who is far from God and who happened to decide to give church and give God one more chance that day. That’s why every Monday our team gathers for what we call a “Blocking and Tackling” meeting. We don’t always get it right, but we are constantly working on it and committed to being a place where people can belong in a healthy relationship with God and others and become more like Jesus.
Here are a few questions every church planter and pastor should ask each week:
1. Could people get on and off our campus with ease?
2. Once they were on our campus was it clear where to park and enter?
3. Were they greeted warmly and were first time guest put at ease quickly?
4. Did we provide a warm, safe, and efficient system for checking in their children?
5. Were parents and children greeted and helped in the children’s area?
6. Was the transition to the Adult Worship environment warm, friendly and clear?
7. Were they able to find a good seat with relative ease?
8. Did they connect with the worship experience and message? Was it a positive experience for them?
9. Did we give them some next steps to take?
10. Did we follow up with them in an appropriate way?
11. Did they have an opportunity to connect with people and with God?
Good healthy systems allow us to care for the people God sends our way. Paying attention to the details and consistently working on them allows us to create a place where people can experience, explore, and experiment with faith. In a post-Christian world this kind of environment can be key for those who are far from God and have little or no Christian memory. Over and over again we connect with people who have never attended a church beyond a wedding to those who haven’t been in years. More importantly we are seeing them come, have the way they think about church changed, and ultimately the way they think about Christ changed. It doesn’t end here. We are seeing people belong in healthy relationships with God and others and become more like Jesus. Lives are being changed. It’s amazing!
Our weekend experience may not be where it ends, but it’s certainly has a large part to do with where it begins.