After touring Steele Creek on Saturday and visiting the GSUMC programs on Sunday, he spent most of Monday with the lead staff.
By Monday afternoon, our heads were spinning. It was both humbling and exciting.
Here are my top five takeaways:
1. We brand our “bullets” but not our “gun.” Even though I’ve never been a gun owner that metaphor has stuck with me. What did Will mean? This: we brand and promote our different series better than we brand and promote our church. He actually held up our Sacred Marriage bulletin and told us, “you all are too creative!” That hyperbole was to remind us to devote the same energy to telling the story of the church as a whole as we do to telling the story of a given series.
2. It’s not as easy to find the church as we thought. Since we are on a prominent corner, we assumed “everyone” in the area knows where we are. Not so much. Our signage is small on one side of our intersection and absent on the other. Our parking lot entrance is a bit tricky to find. Most importantly, there’s no “popcorn trail” leading to the church — no combination of “real estate” signs or road signs to let people know of the life that awaits them at the corner of Moss Road and Hwy. 49. Be looking for that to change. Quickly.
3. Our parking lot is . . . forbidding. In order to protect children and ensure traffic flow, we posted several “Do Not Enter” signs in our parking lot. We failed to see what message that communicates to our guests: Not Welcome Here. Woooops! Of course that’s the last thing in the world we want to communicate. Course correction to follow. Such is the advantage of fresh eyes.
4. Human welcome needs to extend beyond the building. We’ve long been excellent at welcoming people into the lobby. Yet prevailing churches take that welcome and that spirit well beyond the doors of the building — into the parking lot and onto the sidewalks. Our campus is large and not always easy to navigate. There’s nothing like a human face — hopefully one who knows answers to relevant questions — to make it less intimidating.
5. What’s happening in the different program venues is worth the effort. Will’s point is that he wants the experience and vibe outside the church to match what happens inside. From his perspective, BigHouse student ministries, KidVentures children’s programs, and our Sunday worship experience are an excellent fit for the spiritual needs of people in the 21st Century. He simply wants Good Shepherd to stop hiding it all under a bushel.
Watch for changes large and small, subtle and overt, to come to the GS experience soon.