If you were at Grace this weekend you had the chance to meet Jeremy Thompson. Jeremy was the emcee for the weekend and will be our video venue leader when we launch the video venue on 5.15.11. We are calling this venue “The Gallery”, to coincide with its location to the art gallery hallway (also coming in May!) We are going to start at the 11am service, which will have the benefit of adding another 150 seats during that time. This is a very welcome benefit of the Gallery, as we are busting at the seams in the sanctuary during the 11am service. We have just under 1100 seats, and we’ve had over 1100 adults (over 1200 a few times!) come to the 11am service.
Even though adding 150 seats is a great benefit, its only a small piece of the overall goal. On most weekends, adding 150 seats will still leave the sanctuary over full. We are also asking everyone who attends the 11am regularly to help out by considering making either the 5PM or the 11AM service their regular service. This has already had a dramatic impact, our Saturday attendance was over 700 this week while its usually around 400. We are also seeing the 9am attendance come up. THANK YOU to everyone who has decided to free one up at the 11am!!!
The overall goal is to make a LOT more room for a lot more people. The challenge is how to do that. Our Latham facility is really only out of space for about 6 hours a week. In order to make significantly more room at the Latham campus for those six hours we would need to spend millions of dollars (literally, in the neighborhood of $30 – $60 million). That just doesn’t make sense for 6 hours a week. We have also contemplated adding additional service and we may consider this again when all three of the current services are full, but until then it would just be moving the problem from one hour to another. We know the 10am / 11am time on Sunday is the preferred time to attend service for most people. We also know we grow much more in the 11am service than in any other service and that many people prefer a smaller, more intimate congregation. We want to continue to provide the opportunity for as many people to experience worship and hear the message as possible – this is missional for us; more and better disciples.
The best way to meet these goals will be to allow Grace to grow outside of our Latham campus. Grace North is our first endeavor into satellite campus and God has blessed that effort richly. The Gallery will provide us with an environment where we can build and perfect the process of starting additional venues. We would like to be able to start smaller venues and have them grow into satellite campuses, as well as continue to consider launching satellite campuses in strategic locations. To launch smaller venues, we will need a process that allows a smaller group of people to come together around the worship service with minimal financial and human resource investment. We also want to be able to develop leaders from Grace to be able to lead campuses. The Gallery gives a place to do these things. It is a great place to prove and improve the technology and processes we will need. It is also a fantastic environment to give new leaders a chance to grow and see what it will be like to lead a venue. We are developing the Gallery to simulate a theater, which is the most likely place for us to launch venues. Theaters provide plenty of seating in an excellent acoustical environment at an affordable price. In order to make theaters work (or any other auditorium we rent) the venue will need to be easy to set up and tear down and the media will need to be easy to play back and robust. This will allow venue leaders to focus on building relationships and healthy community.
We believe God wants Grace to continue to grow and reach more people. The Gallery is going to help us learn the best way to do that.