It was my privilege to have lunch last week with Michael Christian, pastor of Fairview Church in Lebanon, Tennessee. Michael has done an amazing job with this church, going into a very, very traditional church in his hometown and investing the years and effort to really transition the church to an outwardly focused church with a relevant message and ministry.
January of this year they finally completed a total relocation, and man, is it awesome! As Michael took me through the building, these are the things that hit me:
1. It was open with a lot of windows and light.
2. It was very inviting. It felt very much like a people place, a gathering place, a good and friendly place.
3. When you walk in the front, there is a beautiful waterfall that is actually a baptistry. Incredibly well-done, they used a great stewardship of money and a clever way of doing two things in one. They also have a camera mounted where you can see the people being baptized and that is carried over into the main auditorium where people can see it on big screens. Ingenious.
4. It had a lot of glass, particularly in the children’s areas where parents can feel their children are safe.
5. Video surveillance in all of the preschool areas where parents can come and see exactly what’s happening all the time.
6. A really cool youth space, which includes a whole wall of lockers where kids can keep all of their stuff while they are in a service. I never really thought about it, but what a great idea!
7. Great parking, plenty of entrances.
8. Great signage so people can find their way around.
9. Their auditorium seats 800 people with a great stage that has the capacity of being expanded by simply building onto the right side of the auditorium and creating a mirror-image of what is already there. Very economical, and with all the video capabilities today, it will still create a really great, intimate space.
Here are the things I think that have made Michael successful as he’s transitioned this church:
1. Great visionary leadership that has a long-lookability.
2. The power to prevail in those quitting moments when there was great opposition.
3. The ability to sustain the focused effort when people didn’t understand exactly where they were going, and others downright threw hammers from the sidelines trying to derail the whole thing.
4. Strong commitment to the gospel and the Scriptures as the only two things that really feed the hearts of people.
5. A true love for people, even those that misunderstand your motives.