Maybe I am just getting older and more sentimental, but this year Easter felt different to me. I have never seen more first time guests in a series of Easter services than I did this year. Many registered, but countless others did not. I would conseratively estimate that we had 1500 on campus in the various Easter services. There were a number of guests in the drama presentations as well as a large number of members. We have seen big days at Easter in the past, but this year many guests made a point of speaking to me personally. Several ask for details about the book I recommended. Others stated their intention of becoming members. In both morning services I had amazing eye contact with hundreds of people that I did not personally know. They were listening intently and processing the message in their minds. I am confident that much fruit will be produced from the services.
On a sadder note, Sunday was the first time I ever saw people leave because they could not identify a place to sit. There were some places, but late arrivers in some cases found them placed too awkwardly to proceed to and simply turned back to their vehicles and left. Tommy and I have already discussed that we need parking lot greeters who will provide helpful information to make entering our facilities less threatening. Should these kind of great days continue, we will need to think about how to provide additional seating or offer such things as rooms in which a video feed carries the service. For those who read the blog and do not know, our sanctuary will seat 800 when tightly packed. We had folks on the steps to the balcony and in chairs down the side aisles in the 11:00 AM service. Though we had a great crowd at 8:30, we likely had some wait till 11:00 due to the rain. Yes, it rained on Easter Sunday and a great crowd came anyway. I think we could have packed more into the pews, but you really can’t force that issue. The largest crowd I have ever seen in the sanctuary numbered over 1000. It was the evening of the Sunday Don Piper came.
Someday, the Lord may provide us the resources to build that 1400 seat sanctuary. Until then we must think creatively about how to meet the needs of a growing community and a growing church.