This is a series of posts exploring three major types of ideas that exist in a collaborative community… ideas that have to be shared in order for the community to actually be collaborative. For the first post in this series check out: Ideas in a Collaborative Community.
I wanted to start this series with the easiest type of idea that needs to be shared to make a community begin to shift toward collaboration : The One that Worked.
I’ll start with an example from our ministry at Glenkirk Church, just outside of Los Angeles, CA.
Years ago, we looked at our attendance records and noticed some patterns… in the fall, our Sunday morning numbers would begin to climb until leveling off a few weeks before Christmas. After a few weeks of slight decline, Christmas visitors would come check us out and attendance would pick up again on a steady climb toward Easter. After the Easter boost, our numbers would plateau until mid-May when they would begin their free-fall into the Summer months. During the summer, numbers dropped to about half of what they are during the school-year, with a ridiculous jump in attendance during the two weekends following VBS.
As our team looked at this pattern, we began wondering what would happen if we created a large event in the fall, pre-Christmas, that could help build momentum and increase our peaks through the holiday season. That, my friends, was how our Halloween Festival was born.
The idea was simple, we’d create an event in the Fall that would bring people onto campus with the goal of giving as many un-churched families a glimpse of our church as possible. We labeled it a “Halloween Event” because Halloween is the 2nd most celebrated Holiday in the US (Christmas is a distant first – It’s estimated that over $2.5 billion is spent on Halloween annually) and “Harvest Festivals” or “Fall Festivals” seem to only to bring in those who are looking for Halloween alternatives – typically Christ followers (not our target audience). We hosted the event the Wednesday before Halloween so that we wouldn’t compete with the churches in the area already running successful/large events on October 31st (one nearby church runs an event on Halloween that pulls in over 10,000 people… why compete with another church if you don’t have to!).
Over the last two years, we’ve seen hundreds of families come onto our campus who have never been there before. They trick-or-treat through our children’s ministry and youth ministry large group and small group rooms. They meet families and friends of Glenkirk who host the carnival areas and food court. They discover how to drive from their house to our church (something that we feel will come in handy when they plan on checking out a church in the near-future). The come excited and leave happy. We’ve seen this event act as a catalyst for multiple families who visited on Halloween and now call our church home. The only thing we’ll continue to tweak is trying to create more places for families to slow down and meet each other.
We call this event a success.
How to Share Ideas that Worked
When an event is over and it meets your established criteria for success, you need to tell others about it. It’s important to share tools that you find effective with others who are looking for new strategies to reach those outside of the Church. However, there are a couple quick rules you’ll need to follow in order to share this idea effectively.
Share the process, not just the results.
You’re not helping the kingdom when you simply brag about the results of an idea. Your idea didn’t cost the church money? Great! 13 kids made decisions to follow Jesus because of your idea? Fantastic! Your Senior Pastor didn’t hate the idea? Amazing! But, for your idea to actually help the community, we need to know the thoughts and process that went into it. How did you plan to measure success? What went well? What will you fix next time? Why do you think your idea worked? Would your idea work in another community or at another church? These are the questions you’ll need to answer to help others who are considering using your idea.
Which leads to…
Be willing to be copied
The best and worst thing about sharing an idea that’s worked is that others will try to use it. And you need to be okay with that. If your idea lead to success, then you should be willing to have someone else see that same success elsewhere. If you’re holding onto an idea too tightly to share it, then you’re more concerned with castle building than kingdom building. At the end of the day, we need to be excited about seeing others in ministry success. We need to learn to collaborate, rather than compete with each other.
Over this series of posts, we’ll continue to explore the other two major types of ideas that exist in a collaborative community… ideas that have to be shared in order for the community to actually be collaborative.