Sunday, March 2, 2008

Launch Day for a New Church in Nicholasville!

This morning I was blessed to visit a church that celebrated its initial launch service this morning. They have been preparing for 8 months and it was obvious that was the case. It ran very smoothly and even though they had a few kinks, overall it was impressive. Here are some of my observation in bullet form fashion:
  • Great signage! They had professional, 3 foot fold out signs two miles back on the main street of Nicholasville that directed you to the location of Catalyst church. The church also had a large sign outside the school (Jessamine East High) that kept me from almost driving out into the sticks.
  • Decent publicity! I found out through word of mouth. Some of the launch team folks have hung out at Starbucks in the past and introduced themselves. They have professional cards made which also has the service time and place on it. They let me listen to their commercial that they aired on the radio and it was done very well. But other than the personal contact I haven't seen or heard anything about the church. I was told this morning that they put some door hangers in the area the week of.
  • Great space! Jessamine East High School is likely a well known building within the community. It seems very new and was incredibly user friendly for the church. They had a great stretch of hall that many people were gathered in and utilizing. They had a sign up area at the front, a free (and very nicely stocked, organized and decorated) beverage and snack area at the opposite end complete with cafe' tables and child care rooms in between. They had a pretty impressive check in system for children for a new church plant. There were cards that had numbers on them. You would stick one on your child and keep the original card that also had the number.
  • Great worship space! The auditorium was awesome! It had padded fold down seats with ample knee room. My biggest critique of the worship space is that the projection screen was a little low for everyone in the auditorium to see. It needs to be about five feet higher, somehow??? The auditorium could probably seat around 400 packed which is about perfect for a new church.
  • Great critical mass! There were probably 250 people in the auditorium for their first official service. 250 people made the place feel pretty full. It could have held more and it could have held less- I don't think the place will feel lonely until you have under 75-100.
  • Phenomenal Band! John Kelley leads the band and is excellent, however the guys he played with today had solid stage presence and energy which made everything twice as good! They looked like they were having fun and it was obvious they were all seasoned instrumentalists. There weren't any female vocals, but the guys did a good job singing at comfortable levels without a lot of vocal flux. There opening song was actually "Bad to the bone"! Overall, worship felt very authentic, well rehearsed and had excellent flow. John, the worship leader, spoke a little too often between songs for me but I felt that what he had to say between songs developed a better understanding of who he was and who God was. It was not fluffy or fill time- but I tend to be a bigger fan of worshipful song gaps as opposed to informational song gaps. Overall, this church is blessed with a killer band who I think will have a lot of positive influence in filling seats!
  • Great team structure! I very much felt like I was walking into something that was established and not just coming together for the first time. For me this was a good thing because it created positive energy. I (as a Christian, seminary student) could tell that many people had been planning, working together and worshiping together for quite some time. It did not feel like the work of one person to me but of many as a team. I did see Dave (I think it's Dave but it might be David- he's the point pastor) give some orders to folks a few times, but for the first service he really was doing very little when it came to setting up and just spending time with people- which is great! I could tell that volunteers had been empowered to lead and conquer. At least, this was my overall impression as a first time attender.
  • Good first sermon! Dave is a very good preacher and preached for around 20 minutes with no noticeable notes (by the way, no one in the band used sheet music either- it all appeared to be memorized- very professional). It was a good sermon, but I did find myself at times wondering off- of course, keep in mind I mentally wonder off during the day every 1.5 minutes. There was at least one video-technology glitch in the sermon, but Dave moved on without it and it did not distract from the point he was making. What is most important to me about Dave's message is what he conveyed about the values and vision of Catalyst church. Between the message and his announcements at the end this is what I currently perceive the values and vision of Catalyst to be:
    • Authenticity
    • Church is for sinners, broken people and bored people (sounds like Alpha)
    • We are all sinners, broken people or bored people
    • Missional- from the get go they have announced a mission trip in the Fall. Their closing song was about serving in the city- which Dave shared was a theme song for the church. Though there weren't any immediate small ways to serve I did since that the church was there to be in mission to the community and world.
    • Bible based- David asked folks to open their Bibles where he shared about God's power to save us and provide us a future that is greater than out past. He conveyed this point very well and even I felt greatly encouraged and lifted up by his scriptural message of God's desire to save people.
  • Initial programs: He announced at the end that the initial programs the church would be offering and directed folks to a blue sheet outside that contained all the information (no bulletins at the door):
    • Men's Bible Study/Women's Bible Study
    • Men's Mission Trip to Dominican Republic
    • Home Groups (kind of vague- must be local, social groups)
    • College Adult Twenty Something groups
    • I spoke to the youth guy and he said that youth ministry (Middle school and High School) will kick off at a later time once the church is on it's feet. Childrens ministry seems to happen in the nurseries and kids 5 and older left right before the sermon.
    • Opportunities to serve on the Tear Down/Set up team and in Children's Ministry. It's impressive and helpful that they offer opportunities to serve right at the start. I stayed and helped them tear down and felt excited and a part of the group right away.
    • Mission Statement stated on Sheet as well: We exist to help non-Christians and Christians alike find their way to God.
    • Web site: - good, simple and informative.
Catalyst had a great launch today and I think they are on the right track to becoming a healthy church in the community. I was concerned about their commercial that states they want to be a church for people who hate church. They still might attract folks with some harmful values and differing agendas, but the core group appears to be very "churchy"- for better or worse. I was amazed at the amount of folks who showed up with Bibles for people who didn't like church. I was amazed at the spirit-filled worship for folks who didn't like church. I really think its for folks who don't like traditional church and who may be unfamiliar with more modern forms of Christian worship- ie: the use of technology, secular music, casual attire, coffee in the auditorium, authentic messages, etc. I think the slogan "church for those who hate church" is probably a good technique to bring in folks who are unchurched or dechurched. There desire isn't to coerce churched Christians into leaving their place of worship but to bring in those folks who have spiritual desires but have no church home or who are dissatisfied with traditional church. I look forward to attending future worship services with them and watching them grow. I could probably say a lot more but I think this is a good foundation for future blogs about their growth and change!

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