One of the things that I love about BridgeWay is our Leadership Team's commitment to encouraging continued learning for our staff and leaders.  About 4 months ago they recognized the need to encourage next level leaders to lead in the absence of current leaders, and the need to be continually learning from other churches.  So they made the decision to require that once per quarter our staff and department leaders conduct an off-site visit to another church.  This accomplishes two things: 1) it allows them to learn from a perspective outside of the BridgeWay experience, and 2) it forces us to hand off leadership to a next level leader (apprentice leader) who we are mentoring.

This week was my weekend to be out on a site visit.  So my family and our Worship Director (Chuck Kohler and his wife Rhonda) hit the highway to Macomb, IL and checked out The Crossing Church.  The Crossing Church campus in Macomb is a multi-site out of Quincy, IL.  Their campus in Macomb meets in a renovated Thompson's Grocery Store.  I thought I'd share some of my reflections on that experience, as well as some video and pictures from the morning.

The Crossing (Macomb, IL)
 The Crossing site visit from BridgeWay Community Church on Vimeo.
Quick Hit Reflections
  • It's clear that the building is an old grocery, but that's not a bad thing.
  • Lots of open space in the lobby and worship auditorium.  Open and simple.
  • Only one greeter at the door, and they were the only person who recognized us or said a word to us.
  • A buzzing lobby full of people.  Chuck said, "At least I knew people went here."
  • Not much interaction from volunteers or congregants (you could be in and out and not have anyone talk to you).
  • That goes for Children's Registration too.  We got there 10 minutes early and there was no one at the Children's Registration desks, and 5 minutes to the start of the service no teacher in the classroom.  Uncomfortable.
  • A very contemporary service, definitely aimed at Christians looking for a contemporary expression.  
  • No mention of guests or explaination for unchurched people.  
  • The message was pretty churchy (on Revelation and metaphor) and gave me a headache...but made Jesus the hero so that was awesome!  The Pastor/Teacher was very passionate about the message and that helped.  Did I mention this was a video campus?  Really small screens for a video model.
  • The Campus Pastor was passionate, personable, and positive...he made me want to be a part of his important.
  • I did think it was weird that Chuck and I both walked around freely in the Children's area without having any identification (name badge, parent id sticker, etc...) without anyone asking what we were doing.
What They Do Well
  • Over the top fun stuff for kids!  Indoor play-place, fooseball, air hockey, and video games.  My kids would definitely want to come back.
  • Great environments (physically).  The worship auditorium, lobby, and children's areas were all very inviting.  Clean, open, and welcoming.
  • Worship service flow.  Good flow and sense of worship during the service.
  • Quality printed material, and video production.
  • Clear next steps in response to the message.  The Campus Pastor did a great job calling people to a response to the message, and giving clear next steps.
  • Nice use of imag (image magnification/video).  For a church their size they did their imag well.
What Could They Improve
  • Volunteers and and First Impressions at contact points.  Only one greeter in the whole place (with about 300-400 people at the service) seemed really light.  No volunteers at children's check-in/registration, children's classrooms, or at the bookstore made it seem like the place was unstaffed/understaffed.
  • Restrooms seemed small for the space and had a funky smell (not all that different than the funky smell in our theater restrooms).
  • Pretty rough sound mix.  The sound mix was almost absent and made the room seem dead.  The stage volume was louder than the house volume.
  • More instruction for guests or unchurched people.  We received communion, but with little direction or explanation about what it was.  Same thing with a baptism video at the end of the service.  Great video, but no explanation of what baptism is or what it means.
What We Could Learn
  • Biggest take-aways for me were the excellent environments they have created that make you anticipate a great experience.
  • The use of a simple (and quality) imag system.  With our deep shotgun style theater it would help big time.
  • The placement of offering and announcements at the end of worship was great and well done.  I really liked how it helped the flow of the service.
  • They renovated the space on a pretty limited budget which is encouraging to me as we look to make a move in the next year or so.
A huge shout out to all our volunteers and leaders at BridgeWay who make our church about so much more than a Lead Pastor's teaching or a Worship Leader's guys make the church!  On my first weekend out for a site visit we had our 2nd highest non-Easter worship attendance ever!  Great job & I can't wait to be back with you all teaching next Sunday!
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