When I accepted the role of Executive Pastor at EvFree Fullerton two months ago, everybody forgot to tell me that I would be the staff contact on the Worship Center remodeling project. I started getting emails from the Next Step team—the staff and volunteers in charge of the renovation. They gave great information but seemed like they wanted something. I wondered who they needed it from?
The remodeling included:
- Removing pews and installing chairs
- New air conditioning system
- Demolishing the old stage, rewiring and pouring a new one
- … and about a hundred other aspects!
After a few of these emails, I realized that they were looking to me for the staff side of leadership. So that’s why I was receiving the emails. I finally understood! I wasn’t opposed to the role of staff liaison, but nobody remembered to tell me that that was an expectation! I learned that they were saying, David, solve this!
This new aspect of my job was in addition to writing new job descriptions for all ministry team staff, coordinating a website renovation, getting to know staff and elders, hiring a new worship leader and other major initiatives. My schedule just went from loaded to overloaded!
As with many projects, there were some unresolved issues in the planning phase. Since I wasn’t at the church when the plans were drawn up, it took some digging to discover the issues. That digging required three meetings—just for me to discover what I didn’t know and ask the questions that I didn’t know to ask:
- Since we were going to lose our air conditioning for two weeks, how would we cool the Worship Center? David, solve that.
- Since we would need to be out of the Worship Center for six Sundays, where were we going to put 1,600 people per service? David, solve that.
- With a need to cut the renovation budget, the team saw “theatrical lighting” in the contract and assumed it was all elevated lighting from the rafters. Therefore they nixed the lighting, assuming it could be installed later. Recently, however, we realized that the cost included $40,000 in conduit that had to be installed in the cement stage. David, solve that.
- The renovation would focus the audience’s attention on the stage area. Yet, there was still design work that needed to be planned behind the stage. We were about to have the focal point of the room be bare-ugly bricks. David, solve that.
Solutions—I or Us
The great thing about having a strong team is that “David, solve that” is really the wrong line. The right question is “David, how can you bring together the team of congregational leaders and staff to solve the problem?” The best solutions are all in the team that you bring together. David is not the solution but a catalyst to get to the solution.
We looked at having all 6,000 of us worship at the nearby Cal State Fullerton University stadium. Mark, our Director of Facilities, did a great job of researching the possibility. However, we finally concluded that the location just wouldn’t work. The off-site location would have greatly hindered our ministry with kids, the disabled and the elderly.
We thought about having worship in our Gym. However, that facility didn’t have air conditioning and the echo would make listening for more than three minutes painful. The worship guys raised many red flags and we listened to them.
We decided to rent a huge tent for 800 people, to be installed on our parking lot. We would also put 400 people in The Commons and 400 people in The Chapel. We kept the same worship times so as to not disrupt Mamma’s and Daddy’s schedule too much: 8:00, 9:30, 11:00 and 5:00 pm. But now we had to program not one but three venues!
For some fun and laughter we called it, “Summer of Love 2013—The Parking Lot Tour.” T-Shirts were designed. The Summer of Love tag line was on the front and on the back it read:
June 9—The Commons Parking Lot
June 16—The Commons Parking Lot
June 23—The Commons Parking Lot
June 30—The Commons Parking Lot
July 7—The Commons Parking Lot
July 14—The Commons Parking Lot
Pretty simple tour … perhaps to get the joke you need to be in California.
How about setting up two 70” monitors, a full sound and lighting system, and everything else for worship each Saturday and take it down on Sunday? We asked every staff person to be involved in some way or another. We delegated complete control on all of the issues and areas. What an adventure! We took the staff out to the tent and prayed—we asked God to show up, give us plenty of grace, and help things go smoothly so we could have fantastic worship.
We also brought the Elder Board up to speed on the added needs and discussed how we would pay for it. Everything is possible and doable but needed planning and communication!
Our first worship weekend in the tent was fantastic. That weekend was followed by five more weeks in The Parking Lot Tour, followed by the challenge of moving back into our Worship Center.
All of that in my first 75 days on the job! I’m as excited as ever about ministry—and wondering what my next 75 days will be like … and what other adventures are ahead!
(As posted on WFM, June 13, 2013)