In the Stonebriar Community Church Case Study, the decision of Dr. Charles Swindoll to add a third service at 8:00 on Sunday morning was introduced. Chuck, as he likes to be called, had informed his Executive Pastor, David Chavanne, of his decision in January 2004. It was then David’s role to “make the service happen.”
To help understand the environment of Stonebriar, various items of background information were presented, such as the history of this instant megachurch, the position of the Executive Pastor, and the job descriptions for the Executive Pastor and Senior Pastor. Questions were also introduced to help the reader grapple with the scenario, just as David Chavanne did in January 2004.
In August 2004, Stonebriar began their third service at 8:00 on Sunday mornings. This case study will detail some of the events leading up to the new service and the growth of the service.
David Chavanne set a two-fold strategy to successfully implement Chuck’s vision of a third service. He realized that a church-wide survey needed to be undertaken, so that “Stonebriar could know who Stonebriar is.” This would put objective data in his hands to understand the current make-up of the congregation. David also realized that starting the new service was much more than turning on the lights at the church an extra hour early. A team of people were needed to identify the needed elements and ensure that they were present for the third service. Important questions needed to be addressed by staff and volunteers.
- The church has a choir in the existing two services—how could they be effectively challenged to be ready to sing by 8:00 am each Sunday?
- The church has an effective children’s ministry at the same time as the existing services—how would they staff the nursery at the 8:00 am service? Would there be other children’s education classes at this time? How could they ensure quality? For a member that served the entire morning, how could they ensure “freshness” in the program for their children for the entire morning?
- If the demographics showed that Stonebriar could improve its outreach into the immediate vicinity, how could the third service help achieve that goal?
These and other questions needed to be answered, and Chavanne knew that only a dedicated team could work on them.
Operation Reach Frisco
Stonebriar created a document that summarized their desires with Operation Reach Frisco:
1. Create Reach Frisco Taskforce. Primary function is to coordinate the activities of the various ministries of SCC in order to present a positive, unified, and seamless experience for the unchurched.
- Mary Stark—Communications Director: Advertising/promotion and signage
- Charlton Hiott—Executive Pastor of Pastoral Ministries (John K, Mike J, Sheffie K): Greeting and parking systems
- Les Fleetwood—Executive Pastor of Adult Life: Explorer Small Groups
- John Shapiro—Associate Pastor of Outreach: New believer assimilation
- Gary Siefers—Executive Pastor of Children’s Ministries: Children’s ministry
- Marge Ditka—Special Events Coordinator
- Mark Fortney—Executive Pastor of Missions and Outreach: Day-to-day coordination of taskforce
- David Chavanne—Oversight of taskforce
2. Increase the attractiveness of SCC to the unchurched. Coinciding with the start of three services and the desire to increase the number of unchurched/new believers attending SCC, we desire to make the church “the safest place on earth” (Larry Crabb). SCC should be inviting and comfortable in such a way that complexity and crowds do not overwhelm visitors.
- Preliminary awareness building and expectation setting accomplished via advertising … Real Questions. Real Answers. Real Encouragement.
- Informational signage and greeting/informational center overhaul to increase ease of navigation outside the church and ease of integration inside.
- Greeting system overhaul
- Addition of new “guides” that work with those people parking in visitor parking.
- Clear identification of guides.
- Development of training and reference cards so that each guide is properly equipped to do the job.
- Addition of Explorer Groups to get people “kicking the tires” into a manageable community where they can form friendships and have questions answered. Explore the claims of Christ and the nature of SCC.
3. Add Stonebriar Open House Intended to create a point of focus for advertising and the various ministries to engage the unchurched.
- Target: Unchurched in Frisco (75034, 75035).
- Primarily married couples with children (30’s and 40’s)
- Primarily middle to upper income ($70k-$150k per year)
- Needs: More rewarding marriage, raising good kids, proper balance in life, meaning and purpose of life
- Goal: Generate quality interest in SCC among the target audience.
- Tentative Dates: August 29 (2nd week of three services) and later September
- Come to the 11:15 service. Learn meaningful ways to improve your family life from Chuck. Dress casually.
- Stay after church for an outdoor cookout under the “big top,” including music and games for the whole family.
- Learn more about the various activities of the church at an open house. Various ministries to develop a booth to engage the unchurched in an attractive manner.
- Sign up for an Explorer Group, serving as a first point of intimate connection with SCC.
This document helped Stonebriar identify their objectives for Operation Reach Frisco and provide a framework for evaluating success or failure of the project.
Survey the Congregation
To better understand the congregation, Chavanne hired Manlove Church Marketing to conduct a thorough survey.
The survey is listed below along with the responses from the congregation in percentages. There were a total of 750 completed surveys that were returned.
Stonebriar Congregational Survey
Questions and Answers
Using a pencil or pen, circle the number next to your response for each question. In some cases you may feel several answers apply, however, the questions require you to select the ONE answer which is MOST appropriate. Therefore, read all responses before you select the ONE that is MOST appropriate.
XPastor note: The number after each item is the percent response, such as 56.3 for 56.3%.
1. Which of the following describes your membership connection to Stonebriar?
I am a member 56.3
I am a guest today or have recently started attending 8.3
I am a regular attendee, and I intend to become a member in the near future 24.1
I am a regular attendee, and I do not think that membership is important or necessary 8.8
I am not sure 2.5
2. What influenced you to attend Stonebriar for the first time?
Church building/sign 1.5
Phone book or newspaper advertisement 1.1
I heard about the church from a friend or relative 29.7
A friend or relative brought me to a service or event 9.2
I was familiar with Chuck Swindoll 51.9
The Special Needs Ministry 0.4
I do not know/do not remember 0.8
3. What influenced you the most in your decision to continue attending Stonebriar?
I am a guest and have not decided to continue attending yet 3.2
The worship and music 11.6
The preaching 68.3
The Children’s and/or Student ministries 3.6
The fellowship with other believers 7.1
The opportunities to serve 1.7
Other: ______________________ 3.9
4. How long have you been attending Stonebriar?
I am new (Welcome!) 3.3
6 months or less 11.7
6-12 months 9.2
1-2 years 19.3
2-3 years 19.9
3+ years 20.3
I am a charter member 16.3
I do not know/do not remember
5. With whom do you feel the most connected at Stonebriar?
The senior pastor 18.4
A pastor or staff member 7.7
My Adult Fellowship leader/teacher 3.3
The members of my Adult Fellowship 16.5
The members of my Home Fellowship 8.3
The members of my youth group 1.2
The friends/family who invited me to attend the church 7.9
People in the ministry area in which I serve 15.1
I do not feel connected at Stonebriar 10.9
I do not know 10.7
6. Which of the following describes your involvement in an Adult Fellowship? (choose one)
I do not know what an Adult Fellowship is 2.
I am currently involved in an Adult Fellowship at the church (go to question 8) 37.9
I used to be involved in an Adult Fellowship, but I am not at this time 15.5
I have never been involved in an Adult Fellowship at the church 43.1
7. What is the PRIMARY reason you are not in an Adult Fellowship at this time? (choose one)
I do not know how to get involved 26.9
I cannot participate because I am working elsewhere in the church during that time 11.5
My life circumstances do not allow me to be there 29.9
I do not really feel the need to be in an Adult Fellowship 7.2
I have tried, but have not found a good fit yet 17.8
I do not know 26.9
8. Over the past year, on average, how often did you attend Sunday morning worship?
4 times a month 60.0
3 times a month 24.7
2 times a month 9.5
1 time a month 2.1
I do not attend regularly (go to question 10) 2.7
I do not know (go to question 10) 1.1
9. Which Sunday morning worship service do you attend the most?
9:00 a.m. 52.1
10:45 a.m. 46.4
10. Which of the following describes your involvement in Wednesday Men’s/Women’s ministries? (choose one)
I do not know what Wednesday Men’s/Women’s ministries are 3.6
I am currently in a Wednesday Men’s/Women’s ministry at the church 20.1
I used to be in a Wednesday Men’s/Women’s ministry, but I am not at this time 16.1
I have never been in a Wednesday Men’s/Women’s ministry at the church 59.1
11. Which of the following describes your involvement in Home Fellowships? (choose one)
I do not know what Home Fellowships are 8.7
I am currently involved with a Home Fellowship at the church 14.4
I used to be involved with a Home Fellowship, but I am not at this time 10.9
I have never been involved with a Home Fellowship at the church 65.6
12. Which of the following describes your involvement in The Theology Program? (choose one)
I do not know what The Theology Program is 18.7
I am currently in The Theology Program at the church 5.5
I used to be in The Theology Program, but I am not at this time 4.9
I have never been in The Theology Program at the church 70.5
13. Which of the following describes your involvement in Missions/Outreach opportunities? (choose one)
I do not know what the Missions/Outreach opportunities are 8.9
I am currently involved with Missions/Outreach opportunities at the church 9.5
I used to be involved with Missions/Outreach opportunities, but I am not at this time 4.5
I have never been involved with Missions/Outreach opportunities at the church 75.9
14. Which of the following denominations influenced you the most before coming to Stonebriar? (choose one)
Bible Church 25.6
Assembly of God/Charismatic/Pentecostal 3.1
15. Would you say that there was an identifiable point or time in your life when you became a believer in Jesus Christ?
No (go to question 17) 5.5
I do not know (go to question 17) 2.1
16. Did this occur before or after you started attending Stonebriar?
I am not sure 0.6
17. How long have you been a believer in Jesus Christ? (choose one)
Less than 6 months 0.3
6 months – 1 year 0.1
1-2 years 0.9
3-5 years 2.9
6-10 years 5.5
11-20 years 20.1
Over 20 years 69.8
I am not sure 0.4
18. How satisfied are you with the help you are receiving at Stonebriar related to your spiritual growth? (choose one)
Very satisfied 59.2
Generally satisfied 32.3
I am not sure 6.4
19. What one ministry activity at Stonebriar, more than any other, is influencing your spiritual growth the most? (choose one)
Sunday morning worship 68.7
Adult Fellowship 9.5
Men’s/Women’s ministries 7.1
Home Fellowships 2.4
The Theology Program 2.7
Actively serving in a ministry area (using your gifts in service) 6.0
Missions/Outreach opportunities 0.3
Student Ministries 1.1
Other: __________________ 1.7
20. How many ministry areas are you actively serving in?
I am not serving in a ministry area at this time 54.7
1 ministry area (go to question 22) 26.3
2 ministry areas (go to question 22) 13.3
3 ministry areas (go to question 22) 3.7
4+ ministry areas (go to question 22) 0.9
I do not know (go to question 23) 1.1
21. If you have not actively served in any of the ministry areas, why not?
I did not know we had ministry areas (go to question 23) 1.5
I do not know how to get involved in a ministry area (go to question 23) 18.5
The time is inconvenient (go to question 23) 26.8
I do not see the need (go to question 23) 1.0
I am not interested in any of the current ministry areas (go to question 23) 6.6
I do not know (go to question 23) 45.6
22. If you have actively served in any of the ministry areas, which one has been the most meaningful to you? write in (Received 332 write-ins of 750 responses)
23. How would you describe your giving at Stonebriar?
I regularly give 64.9
I give, but I am not consistent 25.7
My financial situation does not allow me to give 6.9
I am skeptical about giving to a religious organization 0.3
24. What subject would be of most interest to you in the church at this time?
Meaningful relationships 21.1
Personal significance 32.4
Other: ____________________ 2.9
25. During the past six months, how many times did you invite an individual or a family to attend Sunday worship with you? (Count repeated invitations to the same person or family and include invitations even if they did not attend)
1 invitation 22.0
2 invitations 24.3
3+ invitations 33.6
Did not extend any invitations 19.5
26. What is the PRIMARY reason you do not bring guests with you to the Sunday service more often?
I do not think the topic would be of interest to my friends 3.3
I do not think it is up to me to bring people to church 1.3
I do not know anyone to invite 16.3
I am busy serving on Sunday morning and would not be able to be with them 8.0
I am not comfortable bringing friends to Stonebriar 3.2
27. To what ministry, other than Sunday morning worship, would you be most likely to invite a guest?
Adult Fellowship 24.9
Men’s Ministries 17.1
Women’s Ministries 11.2
Home Fellowship 3.9
Missions/Outreach opportunities 2.0
Special events 37.7
28. How often do you read the monthly newsletter, Connection?
I do not know what Connection is 7.5
I do not get Connection in the mail 12.3
I get Connection but do not read it 1.9
I read Connection sometimes 17.7
I read Connection every month 78.3
29. Would you prefer to receive Connection through email?
Yes, email only 17.6
Yes, but send it through post office mail also 19.3
No, I prefer a copy through post office mail only 59.5
30. What do you see as the most pressing facility need at Stonebriar?
Worship seating 24.7
Adult Fellowship areas 10.0
Children’s Ministries areas 13.7
Student Ministries areas 4.1
Recreational ministry areas 4.5
31. Other than facility needs, what do you see as the most pressing need at Stonebriar? (40.1% answered)
32. What do you see as Stonebriar’s greatest opportunity to minister to our community? (35.3% answered)
33. Please indicate your gender.
34. What is your age?
Under 12 0.4
35. What is your ethnic background?
Hispanic or Latino 2.7
Black or African American 1.3
36. What is your current marital status?
Single (never married) 8.9
Married (first marriage) 68.8
Divorced or separated 6.7
Divorced and remarried 13.9
Widowed and remarried 0.3
If you do not have children, go to question 41.
37. Do you have any children under the age of 18 living at home with you?
No (go to question 41) 55.3
38. Circle the number of children living at home in each of the following age group: 5 years or under
1 child 37.9
2 children 19.0
3 children 2.1
4 children 0.0
5+ children 0.0
39. Circle the number of children living at home in each of the following age group: 6-12 years
1 child 36.1
2 children 15.9
3 children 2.4
4 children 0.0
5+ children 0.6
40. Circle the number of children living at home in each of the following age group:13-18 years
1 child 21.1
2 children 6.1
3 children 0.0
4 children 0.3
5+ children 0.6
41. How long have you lived in the area?
I am new (Welcome!) 1.9
6 months or less 4.3
7-12 months 3.3
1-2 years 11.9
3-5 years 27.1
6-10 years 14.9
More than 10 years 35.7
42. What is your zip code?
43. Do you, your spouse, or both of you work outside of the home?
Me only 34.3
My spouse only 18.9
Both of us 36.0
44. Do you have ready access to the Internet at work, home, or both?
Home only 29.5
Work only 5.3
Home and work 62.9
I do not have access to the Internet 2.3
Thank you for completing the survey!
Summary of Results
David Chavanne also had Manlove Church Marketing summarize pertinent results of the survey. The following data was presented to Stonebriar.
For every 400 people who come to church:
- 386 are already believers in Christ (96%)
- 100 of those people came to the church in the last year (25%)
- 32 of those people consider themselves guests (8%)
- 1 person per year comes to Christ after attending Stonebriar (0.22%)
The number of people who came in the last year (25% of congregation) is higher than the number of people who came each year in the last three years prior (20% of the congregation).
Why did people come to Stonebriar for the first time?
- 5 of 10 were familiar with Chuck Swindoll.
- 3 of 10 heard about the church from a friend or relative.
- 1 of 10 was brought to church by a friend or relative.
- The familiarity with Chuck as a reason to attend is directly proportional to age.
The number of people who came to the church because they saw a church building is less than 2%. Other church marketing surveys report 7-20%.
Why do people stay at Stonebriar after beginning to attend?
- 7 of 10 because of the preaching (68%)
- 1 of 10 because of the worship and music (12%)
- 1 of 10 because of the fellowship (7%)
Observations Related to Worship and Membership
The church assimilates 40% of the congregation to membership between six and twelve months.
- Before six months very few people (4%) became members.
- After twelve months it takes two years to get the next 20% of the congregation to become members.
The 31-50 age segment prefers the later service and the 51+ age segment prefers the early service.
Demographic Comparisons by Age Comparisons for Early and Late Sunday Morning Services
Taken from “Make Room for the Boom or Bust” by Gary McIntosh
Prefer Early Service
57+ years old
38-56 years old
19-37 years old
|Committed to Church||Committed to relationship||Committed to family|
|Program oriented||People oriented||Community oriented|
|Money to missions||Money to people||Money to causes|
|In-depth Bible||Practical Bible study||Issue—oriented Bible|
|Study and prayer||Prayer/share||Study, prayer/share|
|Loyalty to denomination||Loyalty to people||Loyalty to family|
|Minister out of duty||Minister for satisfaction||Minister to meet needs|
|Desire stability||Desire creativity||Desire variety|
|Expect formality||Expect informality||Expect spontaneity|
|Enjoy Sunday School||Enjoy small groups||Enjoy family atmosphere|
|Hymns||Praise songs||Variety of music|
|Expository sermons||How to sermons||Practical sermons|
|Guest recognized||Guest anonymous||Guests respected|
|Low participation||Higher participation||Some participation|
- Twenty-two percent of the church either does not feel strongly connected or feels disconnected (typical for a big, new church).
- Fifty percent of those who feel disconnected have attended church for over one year.
- The current Adult Fellowship structure is serving a little over one-third of the congregation.
Service in Ministry
Forty-four percent of the church is serving in ministry. There are more people involved in serving than in Adult Fellowships (typically churches have more people in connecting environments than in serving environments).
Eighty percent of the church indicates they are inviting others.
- 60% of the church attend Sunday morning worship 4 times a month.
- 25% of the church attend Sunday morning worship 3 times a month.
The taskforce of Operation Reach Frisco conducted a targeted mailing to people who lived near the church. Thirty thousand households received the mailing that included information about Stonebriar and the new service.
The Stonebriar website was also utilized to communicate about the service:
Three gathering times to choose from:
Identical worship services are offered at 9:00 and 10:45 am (On August 22, we will move to three services, at 8:00, 9:30, and 11:15 am). Our greeters will welcome you to the worship center and ushers are available to help you find a seat where you are comfortable. When you have found your place and the service begins, you’ll find yourself smiling, if not outright laughing, at the humor and joy that overflows from our worship leaders. Then, as the people around you turn to greet one another, you’ll feel the bond of authentic fellowship, as people who recognize themselves as being far from perfect join together to seek the One who is.
With these and other means, the church got the word out about the new service.
Growth with the Third Service
So what happened? David Chavanne predicted a slow growth of the service, with perhaps 800 people after four or five months. Instead, Stonebriar saw an immediate jump of 800 attendees within thirty days.
Now the challenge will be to grow those attendees into members. The survey data showed that few attendees become members at Stonebriar in the first six months. However, the six month to one year mark has been a key time for new attendees to join the church. This will be the next challenge for Stonebriar.
View footnotes and charts in the original PDF: Stonebriar Part II