Sunday, April 29, 2007

Final Church Experience in Kansas City

Here's the final church experience we had from today compared with the other three worship gatherings. This time we drove to Kansas City to be at church #4. Church #1,2 and 3 were all in Topeka, KS. The newest column is highlighted in yellow.

Name Church 1
Church 2
Church 3
Church 4
Worship Gathering Attended 4/15/07 @ 9:15am 4/15/07 @ 11am 4/22/07 @ 10am 4/29/07 @ 10:20am
Type Evangelical Evangelical Charismatic Evangelical Evangelical (Purpose Driven Model)
Parking & Getting In Gravel parking lot, easy to find where to go since there was only one building on campus, parking was getting kinda full Paved and gravel lot, they were in the middle of constructing a new worship place on-campus so we things were a little confusing as to where to park and walk-in, we only knew where to go because another guy parked right next to us and walked in ahead of us, parking was extremely full and we had to walk a long way, no signage Parking lot was nicely paved, even though there were several buildings on campus it was easy to know where to go since it was the most impression structure with the "religious" looking stuff sticking out of the roof (a world globe penetrated by a huge spire), they had visitor parking row but we skipped it because no one else parked there, we didn't want to be known at this point We tried to find parking close to the theater where this church's sattelitte campus was located, but the complex was enormous. We ended up parking in a parking garage and following some other people in to the theater side door. I couldn't tell that church was being held at this location from the outside from where we went in. I later discovered that the main entrance was on the opposite side of the building, but the outside simply looked like a theater.
Staff who helped us once we got in A staff member greeted us at the door and interacted with us all the way to the children's rooms, he asked us a little about us in a non-threatening and comfortable way, we felt fairly comfortable leaving our kids with the staff, we were given a beeper No one offered to help, but we walked right in, so I can't fault them on this, but the sleeping veteran in the chair at the door as we entered was an interesting first impression, we didn't leave out kids in childcare (and we should have, but we already subjected them to the torture the first time this morning) Staff initially greeted us and asked if we needed assistance (because we looked like we did), the greeter who took us to the class simply walked ahead of us for 1.5 minutes without turning around or interacting with us, at one point my wife dropped something and had to go back to get it but the greeter didn't even realize this, we had to hurry to catch up, felt uncomfortable, had to fill out information at the door where I dropped off kids which took 3 minutes to fill out (long time when our kid knows what's coming and they are freaking out) Initially, we walked down a long hallway crowded with people. We located the children's registration tables, but they weren't manned at this point - but people were signing their children in automatically. But we needed a PIN number to sign in -- sooo off to the main lobby welcome center. Here we met Randy - who was extremely friendly and helpful. He walked us back to the (now manned) children's registration tables and we filled out the information we needed to for our two children. All staff was very helpful and friendly.
Dress Casual, jeans OK Casual to more formal, jeans OK Fairly formal (mostly suits/ties, felt uncomfortable wearing jeans Very casual. The entire worship band was in jeans and nice casual shirts.
Facility Met in a multi-use room (sports and worship) Met in a multi-use room (sports and worship) Met in a fairly new 1,600 seat auditorium An upscale theater that held about 500 people
Age Demographic Younger and middle-aged families Mostly younger families Broad range Mostly younger families
Music Style Non-top CCLI songs, one traditional hymn/song done in a contemporary style, very fine vocal leaders, decent audio mix Non-top CCLI songs, very fine electric guitarist, vocalists were average, audio mix was average and slightly less than average at times R&B Gospel intermixed with one top CCLI song, very fine vocalists especially Gospel choir, good audio mix overall Top CCLI songs, very well-done acoustic style (acoustic guitar, banjo, 12-string, acoustic bass), very light percussion mimiking drum loops, and two singers, this music style was not their usual setup, but it was a nice breath of freash air
Worshippers Interaction Slightly interactive, some hands raised, average participation Slightly interactive, some hands raised, good participation Interactive with hands raised, extreme participation and non-participation Slightly interactive, some hands raised, good participation
Speaking/Preaching Seemed rushed (probably due to baptisms), I'd love to sit down for a drink with the guy but the public speaking part was OK Good communicator, however didn't seem as approchable over a cup of coffee (but remember this is a first impression) Too shallow for me, could have summerized what he said in 5- minutes, but he seemed down to earth Guest speaker did an excellent job of speaking on forgiveness and healing, used lots of scripture which was all displays on screen
Highlight Baptisms included great real/authentic and un-scripted stories of how people placed their trust in God alone Electric guitarist was excellent, pastor seemed like a good communicator Video announcements done by the church staff, it introduced the staff and got the information out in a timely and un-boring fashion, they were very well done, most likely due to the high-end cameras and Being at a church going through a difficult time and having a guest speaker and church seems to be handeling it very well by seeking God for an appropriate response
Oddly Enough Baptism was done in a horse trough, but once I heard the first personal story I didn't care, it was awesome, announcements were extra long however You walked into the worship area on the second level looking down into the worship area which was very different than other places but I kind of liked it, the sleeping veteran at the door was how I identified this church (he's the first guy I saw) One dear woman raised her hand to rededicate her life to God at the end when the pastor asked everyone to bow their heads and close their eyes with "no one looking around" (the elders were peeking, and so was I), at the end of this the pastor CALLED THE POOR WOMAN UP to the front to pray with him in front of everyone, as she came the pastor asked everyone to stand, he proceeded to ask her her name (yikes!) and why she came forward (double yikes!!) with his headset mic still on (yikes, yikes, yikes!!!), oh yeah - they use time in the worship gathering to greet each other a total of three times (after I meet the guy on my left once, I found it wierd the 2nd and 3rd time), then at the end I was promted by the pastor to ask the folks surrounding me (AKA guy on my left) if he needed to go down front to recommit his life to God This was the most "contemporary" feel church but they started with a bluegrass-like feel to an older hymn "I'll Fly Away," going to church in a theater is odd but refreashing, the greeter actually INVITED me to bring a drink into the worship space because there were cup holders in our seats, the theater seats were some of the nicest seats I've ever sat in (I'll need a set for my office and home), there was NO MENTION OF THE OFFERING but there was a simple small table with a silver bowl with a small sign that read "please place offering gift or communication card in the bowl" (and yes, it was all lower-case and no puncuation - so LAY OFF)
Follow-Up Letter from the pastor came on Tuesday We didn't fill anything out, so they couldn't contact us if they wanted to None yet, but I did leave an address with the childcare ministry so we'll see what happens None yet, but I did leave an address with the childcare ministry so we'll see what happens
Nicely done Real authentic stories used, loved the church logo and common identifiable look Good communicator from the front, unique worship space in a positve light Video announcements by staff, guest information nicely printed and clear Video work was very nice (MediaShout), graphic layout/design of all print/electronic media was very well-done and had a readable modern feel, website was attractive, inviting, and gave the important information I needed as a guest

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