On a recent trip to California, I went to visit Sandals Church. This amazing group of people showed us around their building & shared their stories of what they are doing to see people come to know Jesus. Here are a few things that I learned from our visit with them.
1. Their average weekend attendance is 5799 people and in 2014 they had 3890 first time attenders. They run 7 services at 2 locations each weekend.
2. Their kids and youth area were themed in a way that was appropriate for each age group, yet it all tied into the look of the whole building.
3. They have some creative people on their kids staff who write their own songs & make videos for their kids worship. It was fantastic! (Shout out to Andrew & thank you for giving me a jump drive of your videos at CPC. You rock!)
4. They had bulletin board for their volunteers where they communicated “stuff” with their volunteers.
5. Kids got a button on their birthday (just like at Disney!).
I am getting ready to go on another church tour. I am taking some of my key leaders from my Kids Ministry with me. We will drive for about 8 hours one direction, do a little shopping in the US (something Canadians get quite excited about), and spend time attending various classes & services at the church we will be visiting. We will spend time together in the vehicles and get to know each other in the process. We will ask a million questions to our gracious hosts (aka Kids Ministry Staff & Volunteers) . We will come home with our brains ready to explode from all that we saw, heard & experienced.
You should go on a church tour! I am sure there is a church within driving distance that you could learn from. Here are some reasons why you should invest time in going on a church tour:
1. Seeing vs Hearing. They say a picture is worth a thousand words. You can learn so much from seeing something rather than just listening to someone tell you about it. You will notice details and things that people take for granted.
2. Casts Vision to Your Team. You should take a team of people with you. It will multiply the learning experience and the enthusiasm will be way higher than if you came back to try to tell your team all about the church.
3. It’s FREE! OK, well almost free. You will probably have some travel expenses if you are going any distance, but unlike attending a conference, there is no registration fee.
Is there a church in your area you could connect with and go on a tour?
One of the first church tours I ever went to was at Granger Community Church in Granger, IN. Their creativity and innovation was like nothing I had ever seen before. (well, other than Disney) Every kids room was designed in a different theme. They even had slides that took you from the kids check in area, right into the class room. When kids landed in the room, they could look at the monitor and wave good-bye to their parents. The parents could wave back using cameras and monitors at both ends of the slides.
What I love about themed spaces is it communicates to kids… “we think you are pretty important and we hope you have fun here”. If kids want to come to church they will beg their parents to bring them. That means more opportunities to tell them about Jesus and build relationships with them.