Let's Launch This Thing! (but first some trouble shooting and technical stuff)
Catch up on part 1 and part 2
Well, people were talking about us at least. We've gotten some press from the local papers, pretty good engagement online, the building was basically finished, the only thing left was to make sure that we had the kink ironed out before launching.
We hosted two 'technical dress rehearsal' services that were closed to the community (we had to make them 'closed' because we didn't have our occupancy permit yet, so everything we were doing was still considered 'construction' and thus had to be limited to just the necessary people). There were still some curious locals who came in for these services, and we didn't turn them away... we just told them that they were part of the construction team for that Sunday.
Splitting hairs? Ya, probably. Luckily, the inspector wasn't swinging by that day to check everything was done according to the letter.
The building was showing signs of being pretty rough. The drop ceiling was still unfinished in some areas, the installation of the HVAC units were still unfinished, the projection screen wasn't in yet, so we had to project on the walls, the TVs that ran the lyrics weren't totally working with the computer and ProPresenter, and a handful of other things that show that you're not done working on the building yet.
I was so ready for this whole process to be behind me. The two technical services went off generally really well: We had multiple sound guys out to get used to the set up in Neepawa. The band needed to get used to new tech too! Because of the small space, having stage monitors would add too much noise in the room, so we switched over to in-ear monitors - something almost all of our musicians had never played with before!
We had settled on using YouTube Live for our streaming, and began to hit some of the limitations of our set up. Video quality wasn't bad, but we had some terrible sync issues between video and audio. We brushed it off as something that would sort itself out... we were wrong and ended switching over to the premium service of LiveStream for our video needs after numerous streaming issues.
My nerves were basically shot during those three weekends: my insecurities were so close to the surface, I could do nothing to hide them.
Would people show up?
Would the like it?
Would they come back?
When will revival break out?
Will people like me?
Will people reject me?
Are we delivering on what we were promising?
So many of those questions rolled around in my head and heart, leaving me a mess of emotion. And if I had the ability to step back and really look at those questions, so many of them don't matter to what the church is called to be! But I couldn't do that then. I don't think we can really ever do it without the help of others around us.
On our Grand Opening Sunday, October 18, 2015, we were ready to go (or were as ready as we could be) and were excited to open the doors to the masses.
I was pacing around the cafe area, excited, stressed and wondering who would actually show up. The cars started to roll into the parking lot and it's a good thing that we had a parking attendant there to help arrange them! With no lines on the parking lot, people, left to park themselves, would create a mess of cars.
We had ordered coffee from Tim Hortons in a large carafe, although it seemed like no one was interested in getting some. Most people walked into the church and immediately into the auditorium. Those with kids made their way to the kidmin area, but there seemed to be a high level of tension in the church (I probably wasn't helping with that), and most people sat woodenly and silently in their chairs.
There were well-wishers from local businesses, curious Christians from other churches, and a handful of people who probably fit into the category of "back-to-church" families - people who stopped going to church, for whatever reason, a while ago and were using the launch day as a reason to get back into church attendance.
When it was all said and done, we had 102 people show up for opening day! This number was SUPER exciting for me and was on the high-end of my expectations. I was pumped! If these numbers continued, we'd need multiple services before Christmas! (naive, I know).
We're now coming up our one-year anniversary, and we've yet to see a triple-digit attendance since that day... but we had managed to launch, and with a full house, to boot!
I am a pastor in rural Manitoba that is passionate about the church, leadership, coffee and bicycles.