Epiphany at Branson

After leaving a show in Branson I had an epiphany: we all want our church to be packed out.  We have bloodied out heads against the proverbial wall trying to come up with the newest design to grow our church.  A packed house is exciting, inspiring, and probably Godly!  Isn’t pulling out chairs for more people the epitome of success in the 21st century?  Don’t we want our pastors to be able to have bragging rights at the ministry meetings?  If you want a packed house every Sunday here are a few things to keep in mind.

1.  Stadium Seating – if you want to reach people for your church you must have stadium seating.  Pews are out, seats are in.  However, don’t be cheap.  Not just any stadium seat will do.  You must have the ones with cup holders.  Where else am I going to put my grande double shot mocha frappuccino?  I will not put it on the floor because during the high energy dance praise session it might spill.

2.  Parking Help and Greeters – have people in place that can direct traffic to perfection and with a smile.  Make sure you have someone to greet them at the door and get them to their seat.  If you offer call-ahead seating this is an added bonus because it secures a seat in a preferred area and personal greeting when arriving.

3.  Multimedia Experience – the sound, lights, and video must be working together seamlessly and flawlessly.  Strobes, colors, neon, flashes, full light, low light, and more are effects that add to the experience and make people want to return.  Use video sparingly so as not to detract from the stars of the show on the stage.  Video is an “add-to” not “take-away”.  Have footage of children, women, and veterans.  These are proven to evoke a positive, and hopefully, tearful response.

4.  Glitter and Rhinestone – all things shiny are important because it reflects the light show.  Nothing is more boring than a dark suit or the latest swag from Old Navy because it sucks in all the light.  Get your bling going!  Use your mother-in-law’s Bedazzler and go to work!

5.  Wardrobe Changes – This is critical because the audience needs a change to re-engage during the time together.  There must be at least 3 wardrobe changes getting shinier and more glittery as the program continues.  Wearing the same outfit might have been good for the Israelites and John the Baptist, but this is the 21st century!

6.  Intermission – this is tricky because you might lose them if you don’t have a quality hook to get them back.  Before releasing the multitudes to the bathroom and concessions make them aware of all the options.  Have video running and audience interaction during this portion to make sure no one leaves.  Make sure you show them all the wares they might find at the concession area.

7.  Concessions – this is a good money-maker for missions…and the general budget in tough years.  You can sell cokes, coffees, and snacks.  Also, you should offer CD’s and DVD’s of the pastors sermons and worship band music.  Offer selected services that were crowd favorites over the years.  Provide 2 for 1 and 3 for 1 deals.  For those who have brought large families give the driver a free pop and candy bar.

8.  Variety of Music – don’t confuse this with a blended worship.  By variety I mean stuff that is familiar to both the Christian and Non-Christian.  We want them to tap their feet, clap their hands, and sing along.  Learn stuff from XM Channel 5-9 as well as the 63.  This lowers the barriers of songs no one knows.  Honor the Veterans.  Include people.

9.  Humor and Timing – Whenever a group of people gather there are a number of learning styles, and generations.  A good production will have serious and humor, laughter and tears.  The timing is important because of the wardrobe changes and the collective audience ADD.  Something must change/shift gears every 6-8 minutes.  20 minutes of songs is a killer.  40 minutes of preaching is an absolute no-no.  Script your theme throughout the experience in a variety of ways and emotions.  Bring the humor.  Bring the noise.  Bring the truth.

What else would you add?  It takes a blog to raise a church these days!

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