All About Relaunches
Throughout the life of our church, we have gone through many different “launch” moments.
- We had the launch of our first “preview” services in January of 2007.
- We had the launch of our “public” services in March of 2007.
- We had the launch of a new location when we moved from schools and the Holiday Inn to The Long Center.
- We had the launch of a new name when we switched from Southside Church to Lafayette Community Church.
- We had the launch of our first permanent location when we leased space in a building on Braddock.
- We had the launch of our first owned building when we moved to 2301 Concord.
Now we are facing another one.
At the beginning of 2020, the church elders decided to take a bold move. We chose to intentionally reduce our ministry for a time to “regroup” and “refocus” by “reconnecting” the people of the church to each other. We went from two worship gatherings on Sunday down to one, and the plan was to do it for a brief time before “re-launching” back into two worship gatherings. The plan was to experience the energy of getting us all together again in one room at one time to help us get excited and motivated to do the work of outreach all over.
It was a good plan.
But then, in March 2020, the lockdowns happened and our church leaders made the tough decision to prioritize safety and leverage technology in place of in-person gatherings.
In the 16 months since then, so very much has changed in our country, in our community, and in our congregation, that it’s safe to say we are now not only ministering in a different world, but we are doing it as a very different church. In no other year has our church experienced this much change this deeply, and so it’s safe to say that it’s time to do a relaunch all over again.
A Good Launch Pad
So much has changed that it might seem we need to completely revisit what ministry looks like and what God’s call on our church is these days. So much has changed that in some respects, we need to go all the way back to the beginning and kinda start over as a brand new church. In my heart and mind, I’m remembering all the way back to those summer days at Tecumseh Jr. High when every week, our leaders and volunteers just hoped that someone would show up!
Still, in so many ways, we are in a much stronger position than we were back then.
- On the low side, our Sunday attendance has only been around 30 in person and our livestream averages 60 views each week (not all on Sunday morning). But on the high side, we have nearly 300 YouTube subscribers, we have 143 people in our Facebook discussion group, and we have nearly 1000 likes on our Facebook page. Now, none of those numbers indicate anything about potential Sunday attendance when we’re “all back,” but all those numbers do let us know that quite a number of people consider themselves connected to our church in some way. That’s not a bad foundation.
- On the low side, our monthly donations have been averaging about $9,000 for the past three months, but on the plus side, summers are always low, and we are keeping our monthly financial need as low as possible. Right now, our monthly need is just under $11,000. It means we are kinda scraping the bottom each month, but we are still hanging in there.
- On the low side, our volunteer pool is down on every front, but on the plus side, I’ve been seeing a great amount of joy and enthusiasm on the face of each person who is serving. It really is a remarkable pleasure for me to see people enthusiastically serving coffee even when there are only a few people in the lobby! We have a small, but very fun team of Sunday volunteers right now, and it’s pretty cool to be part of it.
The bottom line? Never underestimate the value of an enthusiastic core group of people!
Are you one of the people who has remained a faithful financial partner of the church? I can’t thank you enough for the stability you are offering us at this time.
Are you one of the volunteers who is using your time on Sunday to serve others in Security, Connections, Kidopolis, Worship, or Media? Thank you! Your joy is infectious to me and to everyone around you every week!
Are you one of the people who has been praying for me and for the church regularly? Bravo! You are the true foundation, the true launch pad of the church!
So… A Relaunch?
So, I thought I would share with you some plans for our next steps as a church as we pursue our next “relaunch.”
First: Prayer & Perspective (August)
As you can tell, I have been investing some detail time in our Sunday morning study through Matthew largely because I’m convinced nothing will help us be the church we are supposed to be better than us having the right perspective on things, a clear picture of who Jesus is and what he is calling us to be and to do as his followers. Everything starts there, and I’m glad we are going through this series at this level of detail. Please, join me in soaking up the character of Jesus each week.
But that’s not all, I also know that nothing impacts a church more than when its people are actively involved in spiritual disciplines like prayer, and toward that end, we are going to make August another month of prayer. I don’t know whether we will follow the 21 Days of Prayer structure that we have done in the past or whether we will do something completely different, but I’m asking all of us to turn up the prayer focus throughout the month of August.
Additionally, as I’ve done before, I’m renewing my offer to provide personal discipleship / spiritual coaching to anyone who wants to grow in their faith. I’ll meet you once or twice a week on your schedule to walk you through our coaching materials or your own study of Scripture. I’m looking to build up some leaders, and I’ll take anyone who is willing!
Second: Service & Worship (September)
Our second emphasis, the primary emphasis of the month of September, will be Service and Worship. What that means is that we will be encouraging you all to look for specific and strategic ways to serve people around you. We’ll be giving you little cards you can use to invite people to our relaunch in October, but we will be asking you to do some work of service before you pass out a card!
We will have some Service Project Saturdays. One might be some work in the neighborhoods around the church, but at least one will be all about some work around the church building to prepare our home to be more inviting to newcomers.
And finally, we will use the month of September to really beef up our Sunday worship experience. It’s very similar to the way things were when we first got started. We will do whatever it takes to make the Sunday experience welcoming and inspiring for all who come. We might hire in extra musicians for a week or two (we could really use a drummer, especially). We might pay Kidopolis workers for a few weeks to increase our team. And, I might even resort to light bribery (Dilly Bars? Cotton Candy? Snow Cones?) to encourage you to come back to in-person church and bring your friends!
The month of September will be all about us re-gathering together to re-invigorate ourselves in preparation for a brand new phase of ministry.
Launch! A Fresh Start (October)
After a year of quarantine, political debates, social upheaval and more, I’m betting that the people who live in Lafayette and are not connected to a church already are primed and ready for a “fresh start” in their lives. They might be disillusioned with the churches they have experienced. They might have never heard the actual message of God’s love for them. Maybe they think that all churches are “conservative” or “liberal.” But I bet our town is filled with people who would be inspired to experience something fresh and new. I want us to be the church for them. I want us to be the spiritual home for the spiritually homeless. I want us to be the church that feels “refreshing” to them.
And this October, we will relaunch our marketing efforts to tell people about us. Jesus wants to meet people where they are, and we have the opportunity to step into that place to give people a message that is truly good news.
I’ll finish my Matthew series the first week of October, and we will use that Gratitude Sunday to worship and prepare our hearts, but the very next week, the second Sunday of October, we will launch ourselves into a whole new phase of ministry with a message series focused on giving people a fresh start, a second chance, and the transformational experience of forgiveness and grace!
Let’s Get Ready
So, over the next two months, I’m expecting you to do some work of preparation in the form of prayer, reflection, serving neighbors, giving financially, serving the church family, cleaning the building and more, but I can assure you that Jen and I have been through these relaunches before, and if we commit to it together, it’s going to be incredible.
There are so many people still in our town who need to know the message of Jesus, and God is positioning us to be part of the answer for them.
It’s going to be great, and I’m glad we get to do this together.