“Church” it’s a loaded word.
For some it conjures up the thought of a building. For still more it stirs feelings of community or family. For some others it may evoke the thought of an organizational system. Sometimes it means the Sunday morning experience. “Church” can mean something local and something global.
For this post, I want to explore what goes into making our Sunday morning experience happen at 3727 W Kiest Blvd in Dallas, Texas. So I guess I’m looking at what takes place locally for Sundays in our organizational system that helps our family or community come together at a building.
Each Sunday that we gather here, it is made possible through the commitments and sacrifices of men and women who have paved the way days, weeks, months, and years past. There is not a day that goes by that I am unaware of the reality that we are where we are today in part from the work and service of previous pastors, elders, leaders, teachers, volunteers, church members and visitors. This week, I am mindful of the efforts of Harry May in particular.
Harry was a beloved member of our fellowship. He served in a number of different ways, especially as it came to the care of the finances and facilities of the church. Harry’s cheerful smile and optimistic attitude helped tackle many of the jobs that needed to be done around the church, even the hardest, messiest jobs. Harry battled cancer for the last years of his life. I did not know the cancer-free Harry, but I know the legacy he helped build upon. I am trusting that the Spirit of God is comforting Harry’s wife Fran and their whole family. We all take confidence in the hope of seeing Harry in full health again when all creation is brought to its fullness in the new heaven and new earth.
So what goes into a Sunday morning gathering? Here’s a list I have compiled. I doubt it is complete, but I think you’ll get the picture.
- Prayer starts long before a Sunday experience. Some of the prayers are around what will we teach or lead people into. Some of the prayer is for the men, women, boys, and girls who will attend. Prayer serves as a critical aspect of getting ready for Sunday.
- Discernment is exercised as the song leaders, class teachers, preachers, and leaders seek to discover what texts, songs, illustrations, and words are appropriate for the gatherings. This discernment process often involves questions, research, and writing.
- Cleaning is needed. This might seem like a forgotten element, but the building where we gather needs to be cleaned and set in a presentable order, to include the parking lot too. Sometimes this means cleaning up a mess that was left or just putting things back where they belong. Additionally, there is a cleaning in the heart and mind of the teachers and leaders.
- Set up of audio visual equipment, illustration aids, and more needs to occur. This usually consists of individuals and teams scurrying through the hallways gathering up items, sometimes even last minute.
- Opening up, which involves turning on all the lights and making sure the doors are unlocked. It also includes checking to make sure the heating and air conditioners are running properly. Occasionally it means chasing down a strange fragrance or odor to find a toilet that needs attention, trash that needs to be taken out, or a room that needs to be aired out.
- Welcoming guests and regulars. For us that means we have team members at the doors, like Georgetta Stephenson who faithful hugs and shakes the hand of everyone who comes through her doorway. It also means that we have signage in place to help people find their way (yep, we’ve got work to do on this) and that the children and parents are welcomed with a smile and a name badge.
- Rehearsals and sound checks take place in both the English and Spanish worship space. During this time the tech team and the worship teams seek to fine tune the sound and lighting to be appropriate for the gathering’s purpose.
- Volunteers come pouring in to teach and care for children, teens, and adults. Currently, we have multiple teams caring for our kids in Sunday school and during our worship gatherings.
- Schedules and agendas printed and circulated so that team members know what is to take place. Though we strive to do things electronically, there is something comforting about a print copy.
- One on one conversations as people enter and exit the gatherings. It is during this time we hear about life from one another and we begin to see how to help one another. This often includes making sure there are places to sit and stand as well as time for people to just talk.
- Contact information for a new attendee or guest is captured so we can follow up with them. (Then there’s the actual follow through that leads to their return visit.)
- Offerings and attendance counted as well as reports provided so that we can know what needs to change or be addressed for the next week.
- Closing up, locking the doors; making sure all lights are off; AC and heating units are set to schedule; kids are safely out of the building; and the alarm is set.
- The Tuesday morning staff meeting where major systems and activities are reviewed while plans are made to do it all over again, usually the next day as we have Wednesday to focus on too.
Certainly there are things that have been forgotten on this list as well as more detail that could be shared on the 14 bullets listed above. What did you notice that was missing? What did you notice that you can help with?
Making “church” happen involves a number of things. Thank you for being a part of church.