It’s not a secret that pastors only work on Sundays.  The rest of the week is spent honing my curling skills, or whatever it is that you imaging pastoral-type folk do on their Sabbath from Sabbath.  That’s why it’s often difficult – if not impossible – to break away and check out other churches on a Sunday.  In my seven years at the Summit, I’ve visited roughly four other churches on a Sunday.  Four.  (That’s less than five, people!)

But it is crucial for a leader to get out of his own environment and experience the way other places do church.  I had that opportunity yesterday.  Granger Community Church is an organization I’ve followed for several years.  Their reputation is stellar in so many ways, and it seems that every staff member has authored or co-authored a book (look for Simply Strategic Toilet Plunging to come out from the facilities team later this year).  In short, they are the go-to authority on matters of communication, guest services, administration, culture…you name it, they know about it.

This will be the first of several posts where I debrief my takeaways, but here are the biggies:

  1. Seamless. If anyone at Granger was panicking about anything, I never knew about it.  I’ve been in the church biz long enough to know that at the Summit, we’re often called a “well oiled machine.”  As nice as that sentiment is, I know the truth.  I know there are Sundays where I want to find a corner and get in the fetal position.  I’d assume folks at Granger have that feeling sometimes, too.  But what I saw was organized fluidity.  People knew their role, knew the win, and knew how to deliver it, top to bottom.
  2. Relaxing. Granger’s auditorium is like a massive Panera Bread, without the bread (except for communion Sundays, when… never mind).  The auditorium opened plenty early so people could grab a seat and chat it up.  The programming all led up to the service kickoff.  They have a “service-before-the-service” culture that takes every bit as much planning as the service itself.
  3. Attractive. Everything…everything…looks good.  Signage.  Facilities.  Restrooms.  Staging.  You just know that they expected somebody to show up.  Excellence is reflected down to the last detail.
  4. Community. I intentionally laid low on Sunday, since I was attempting to visit multiple campuses and needed to pop in and out, but the setup at Granger is such that they want you to hang around and make friends.  They reflect that value with a full-scale, sit-down cafe, a bookstore, and outdoor gathering space (although with all the snow on the ground, I didn’t see any takers).

I hope you’re taking the time to get out and see what other places are doing.  You need to build in that discipline if you’re a pastor, church leader, or church member.  Get the heck out of Dodge, and see what other places are doing.  It will spark new ideas (and new passion) every single time.