This is part two of our Shoreline launch story. To read part one click here.
Our first preview service was October 16th. Preview services are like practices or dress rehearsals. It’s a way for us to get the word out, communicate who we are, while also establishing what worship is going to look like at Shoreline. Church plants make adjustments and tweaks here and there, the goal being to work everything out by the launch.
That first service was exciting!
We had t-shirts made for all the volunteers, and even had a few billboards announcing the day.
Things started moving at the movie theater bright and early with Joe and the guys setting up everything for worship in the screening room at 7am.
The view from my car window as I pulled into the parking lot.
The leadership team was there by 8am and we went right to work putting up signs, tables, pack-n-plays, toys and mats in the nurseries and transforming the movie theater lobby into our meet/greet/register children/connect area.
One thing we don’t have to set up is chairs. Hallelujah! And those stadium theater seats complete with cup holders are quite comfortable. If you are used to church pews, you are in for a nice change.
One thing I am responsible for is ushering. I make sure we have the connection cards, sermon notes, and pens ready to hand out. We welcome people into worship, take up offering and count attendance. It doesn’t require a lot of people but my team is awesome and I love them.
Me and my man – the lead pastor, Joe Buck. So proud of him! Good coffee and doughnuts, both from local businesses, are ready to go in the background.
Kelly and Polly (pictured below) hauled all of our boxes, totes, and equipment from their storage facility to the theater at 6:30. They are early risers and high-energy people. They are also temporarily storing all our stuff in their warehouse. We appreciate them so much!
We had coffee mugs with sample bags from Land of a Thousand Hills – seriously honest to goodness coffee – and scripture cards with daily readings. Joe made Gospel reading plans that would get us from one preview service to the next. Kids cups filled with candy were given out, too. At subsequent services, each new family receives a mug and each new child a kid cup.
My little boy tries to get a new cup every time, his reasoning being he has no candy left in his. Meanwhile, we don’t even own a mug. Everything gets boxed back up and loaded into the trailer and I forget to grab one. Gonna have to rectify that this Sunday.
Two of our children’s ministry volunteers getting the infant nursery ready, and (below) some of the greeters at our first service. Those are Joe’s parents to the left of the sign, Joe III and Marilyn.
We make sure our mission statement is loud and clear: Serve God. Love people.
Here’s my little boy helping me set up. He proudly wrote his own name tag. His sister was running the halls playing hide and seek with some of the other volunteers’ children. I don’t even have a picture of all four of us that Sunday, but I’ve made up for it. 🙂
Austin and the team kicked off worship at 10:30.
I stood half way back by the entrance and was just plain emotional.
I couldn’t believe we were to this point. I couldn’t believe how many people were helping us. How many people were coming in to worship. Tears filled my eyes as I, again, realized how GOOD God is.
Joe preached – he did great of course 😉 – we sang, and before I knew it, it was over. We started the take-down, pack-up process and got a priceless photo of the whole team (or most of them).
The day was a huge success – in terms of how the worship service went, how all the logistics came together, how amazing the volunteers were, and in the number of people that came. We were humbled, overwhelmed with gratitude. There’s no other way to put it.
Also, another thanks to my sweet sister-in-law who came and brought baby Stella Mae. Crystal was a big help, borrowing a camera and making sure we have lots of photos from that day.
We had our second service on November 20th. My dad and his wife, Renee, were in town and came to help out.
More volunteers we love:
I did get a family photo, albeit a grainy one…
For the service on December 18th, celebrating Christmas, we did our first mail-out.
The same guy that filmed our initial “Ask” video in the summer, put together this video from our December preview service.
Our last preview service was January 8th. It was also the coldest day of the year, and our attendance was the lowest we’d seen, with a total of 82 people (including volunteers and children). In fact, our number seemed to be going down. Both December’s and January’s service was lower than we were expecting. Not the direction we wanted to go, and not very encouraging! But we tried to stay positive.
We have become very aware that we are going to face both successes and challenges on this church planting journey. 82 people was still 82 people. They were there. That mattered to God and that’s all that really matters anyway.
One thing about worshipping in a movie theater…
The volunteers’ kids don’t get bored during the whole set-up/take-down process.
On this particular Sunday, Joseph had just been given 3 dollars from the 3 Wisemen at Epiphany. He went into my wallet to get one of his dollars and instead got out a $5. Completely unaware, he put it in the change machine and handed out quarters to all his friends. Nice guy – very generous.
February 5th, Superbowl Sunday, was our launch service! Joe started the series “How to be a better…” and we sent out our second mailer (designed by my sister-in-law and graphic designer, Crystal):
We had 144 people in attendance. My photos are not great, but you get the idea:
We were very excited (and relieved!) with how well everything went. After giving the report to our coach, Joe said he was very happy too. Coming from someone who has helped plant a lot of churches, that made us all the more excited! BIG exhale…
My brother, Will, and his family (Crystal and Stella) came for the big day. Stella wasn’t really in the photo-mood, but she had a good time at the movie theater as well.
And now, we are worshipping every Sunday! It’s a lot of work but it’s rewarding work, and we are loving it.
Our attendance numbers have been good, but more important than that, we are seeing God move. We are meeting people who haven’t been to church in a long time (or who have never been) and people who don’t yet have a relationship with Jesus. We are seeing new faces every week and talking to people who want to get involved. Connection cards are being filled out and small groups are starting to get assembled. Witnessing all of this has been just awesome!!
We are losing some of our volunteers, as they were temporary and now have returned to their own churches. The last couple of Sundays we have gotten by with a much smaller group, but it’s been ok.
Between our leadership team and our volunteers, Joe and I have just been in awe of how it has all come together. I’m going to be honest, though, it has not been easy.
I’ve heard Joe refer to this whole church planting gig as “not something I would pick off the menu”. All of the uncertainties have led to some stressful days. I have compared this process to a roller coaster ride. There have been highs and there have been lows. There have also been plenty “what are we doing here???” moments.
It is hard. It is emotional. But we are adapting. We have overcome some challenges and, no doubt, will face many more. And we are trying to not lose sight of the blessings – big and small.
Mostly, we have felt a peace. Not with how everything has gone necessarily, but in knowing that we are doing what God has called us to do.
And that makes it all worth it.
We are growing in our own faith and learning a level of trust and reliance on God that maybe we didn’t have before.
It is so easy to let our own expectations get in the way. Joe and I have felt both built up and let down. This has been a humbling experience for sure. We are learning just how much we have control over (not much). We are also learning to not put limits on what Shoreline can become. Hearts can fall in love with Jesus and lives can be transformed through our church. God is able to do immeasurably more than we could ever imagine.
I recently read this, from Lysa TerKeurst:
If we are obedient to God in the midst of our ordinary lives, extraordinary impact is always possible.
I want so badly to make an extraordinary impact with the life that God has given me, don’t you? Joe and I are so hopeful in what Shoreline can become in this community, in what God can do through this church.
If you want to know more about what’s going on at Shoreline, find us on Facebook! On the website you can read Joe’s blog and listen to the sermons.