You’ve been praying, dreaming & planning about the launch of your church plant for years and now the day is approaching. Be sure your plans include contingencies for these very likely grand opening bottlenecks.
Grand opening bottlenecks are caused by the spike in attendance created by your grand opening celebration. You’ve had a growing team of people before the grand opening, and you’ll have a growing congregation afterwards, but for the first few Sundays you may have more people in attendance than your normal systems can support.
This is one of the prime grand opening bottlenecks: you’ve got the latest check-in gadgets & printers to get all the kiddos safely checked in to their classrooms, but all of that is driven by software. Which requires you to type in the parents’ names and the child’s (or children’s) name and at least a some basic emergency contact info.
On a given Sunday, most of the kids will be your regulars already in your system. But on Grand Opening Sunday, you’re planning on lots of guests. If you stop to type in every new family on the spot, chances are good that the lines will be long, kids will be late to class and grownups will be late to service.
Ideas for preparing for the children’s check-in bottleneck at your grand opening:
- Have an offline/paper system for overflow: have 5 or 10 clipboards ready to go with paper versions of the registration form (bonus – this is a great backup to have every week in case your tech goes down)
- Set up an extra check-in station
- Recruit check-in reservists that can be called into action at a moment’s notice
Your church liability insurance provider and the fire marshal care about how many kids you have in each classroom. What if a classroom holds 20 kids but you have 29 in that age group show up?
This creates a double challenge: not only do you have to have a plan for where the kids are going to go, but if you’re splitting the kids, you’ll need to double your workers, too. You always need at least 2 adults that have been screened with a background check in with the kids.
Ideas for preparing for the children’s classroom bottleneck at your grand opening:
- Look for a hallway or common area that could be used for emergency overflow; also consider its security perimeter and similar issues you’d prepare for with every classroom
- Make sure your off-Sunday teachers & helpers are on site so that they can be called up as reserves
- If all your teachers & helpers are already serving, then keep all the kids in the smaller classroom momentarily and have the check-in operators be your reservists
Hopefully your ushers (or whatever cool name you call them) have practiced passing the communion and/or offering trays at least a couple of times at your preview services. But now the crowd is twice as big (or more) and extra chairs were put out in a way that created an extra aisle or more rows than they’d planned for.
If you’d planned for that part of your service to take 4 minutes, but it takes 9 minutes to get the trays to everyone, you’re going to have call an audible.
Ideas for preparing for the tray passing bottleneck at your grand opening:
- Buy or borrow extra trays for the first few weeks
- Have usher reservists that can be called up into action
- Prepare a how-and-when-more-chairs-get-put-out plan
Congratulations! Your team did a great job of getting the word out and inviting friends & family to the grand opening. And you did a bangup job of getting lots of visitor cards filled out. Now it’s Sunday evening and you’re staring at a stack of 59 visitor cards that you need to either write note cards or make phone calls to (etc). Guess what you’re doing all week in lieu of preparing your next sermon?
It may seem like there’s a little time grace here, but the prevailing wisdom (and probably somebody’s study) strongly suggests striking while the iron is hot: the first followup should happen within 24-48 hours. So you don’t really have all week if you’re going to get to everyone in a timely manner.
Ideas for preparing for the visitor followup bottleneck at your grand opening:
- Create a followup team that will do much of the followup on an ongoing basis; the first few weeks will be all-hands-on-deck
- Make sure that team includes at least one data entry person to get all of those cards into your tracking system
- Pre-write 50 or 100 note cards and leave room for the vistors’ names to be added later
- In the same vein, get the stamps and return addresses on the envelopes, too
The common thread in addressing all of these grand opening bottlenecks is creating systems that can grow on demand and relax back once the initial visitor boom is over.
Knowing where your grand opening bottlenecks are likely to choke you will help you plan a scalable solution to be ready if they come (hopefully when they come).