What I Learned from a Church of 300
"Some people will never learn anything because they understand everything too soon."
Alexander Pope (1688-1744)
When I first contacted Brek Cockrell about bringing a team from Granger to visit his church in Buffalo, he wasn't sure I had the right church. He said, "We sent people to your church to learn how you do children's ministry...so it seems really strange that you are now sending people to our church."
Yes, Granger is a church of 6,000, but we also have a real grasp on what we don't know. And it's been twelve years since we did church in a theater. So there is much we can learn from a new church plant that is knocking the ball out of the park.
The Chapel at Elmwood is exactly one-year old. They started last Easter at a Regal Cinemas and are now running around 300 each weekend.
Here are a few things I learned (or was reminded of) from my trip to The Chapel...
- Everything rises and falls on leadership. And Brek Cockrell and Earl Leatherland are great leaders.
- There is a contagious passion and enthusiasm that exists in a new site or church plant.
- A movie theater is a great place to have church.
- Children's Ministry can rock in a movie theater! The Chapel does this really well.
- You can do a lot for not a lot of money to dress up a theater to make it a great experience for people.
- People will come to church because you are meeting in a movie theater who would never come to church otherwise.
- A shared vision will overcome all kinds of adversity...lack of money, shortage of volunteers, hours of set-up.
- Back in the day, we called one of our teams the "Set-up and Tear-Down Team." Creative, huh? At The Chapel, they call this team the "Make-Over Team." Much better.
- A good relationship with the local theater management will make all the difference in the world.
- Some people are stubborn. Even when you tell them you'd like to take their team out to lunch as a way to say thanks, they still secretly pay the bill. Thanks Brek...you didn't have to do that.