- Matt Fry talked about First Impressions and discussed the value of a blog... Takeaway: I started this one!
- John Bolin entertainingly talked about Telling the Story and pointed out that a good story is one that "captures the imagination" and challenged us to start our dream with, "Imagine if...". Currently, we are considering launching The Net from the Rave Theater in Chattanooga. When John said this, I thought, "Imagine if we had so many de-churched people coming to our weekend services, we had to rent out every screen and when we outgrew the theater they were begging us to stay because Sunday afternoon became such a moneymaker for them from all our members taking in a show after service!" That's a story I'd love to tell.
- Geoff Surratt talked about Connecting people through having multiple video campuses and gave everyone a taste of that process by giving the talk by video while the attendees watched from an offsite campus.
- Greg Surratt talked about the Weekend Experience and expressed the value of bringing people into the presence of God through experiential worship, so as to keep people engaged. He told about a guy who's dad used to take him to church growing up so he could see that there was one hour each week that was more boring than school... ouch!
- Randy Bezet closed out the conference with a talk on Aftertaste. He defined excellence as not getting it right every time, but every time committing to doing it better. He also stressed the importance of a safe, high-quality children's area. I am confident we will keep this as a priority!
Final thought... Almost ever speaker emphasized the importance of making it your goal to get people to come back to the church when they visit for the first time. I listened to a message by Chris Hodges (Church of the Highlands) recently and he talked about how the likelihood of someone becoming a Christ-follower dramatically increases each time they come back to the church. A great tie-in comes from Bill Hybles (Willow Creek Church) who says, "People are looking for community over Christ". If we can hook them with a good first impression and get them connected with people in the church to where they feel comfortable coming back, they will more than likely find Christ though that process. Maybe that's what Jesus had in mind when He called us His body!