Saturday, January 5, 2013

Diary of a New Campus: Opening Night Check-In Drama

Wow.  It's hard to believe, but after more than two years of planning, our first worship service at our new Richmond Road campus is history.  More highlights to come, but tonight I wanted to tell you about the biggest excitement of the night that occurred right before the service.

Check-In Lobby of K-2nd Drive-In Environment

Imagine you're about to open the Children's Ministry in a brand new campus with a 2,000 seat auditorium and you have families lined up at your doors waiting for you to open check-in.  Now imagine you find out just seven minutes before the doors open that your fancy electronic check-in system isn't printing any security tags.  Not in preschool.  Not in K-2nd grade.  Not in 3rd-5th grade.

None.  Nada.  Zero.  Zilch.  

Now you can imagine how I felt for a few minutes tonight as I watched dozens of people line up at the doors while our resident genius IT wizard worked feverishly to save the day.

It was a high stakes race against the clock.  Five minutes left.  No tags.  Three minutes left.  No tags.  One minute left.  No tags.

Then - I am not making this up - at exactly 5:15, the time we open check-in, Justin worked his magic.  The  printers fired to life and we opened check-in right on time.  Okay, preschool opened one minute late as we verified their printers were working too, but for awhile, it looked a little hairy.

Moral of the story, always have smart friends like Justin hanging around during crucial ministry moments like tonight's campus launch.  Also, make sure you have plenty of old fashioned back-ups for every tech dependent part of your ministry.  It wouldn't have been pretty, but if we'd had to go manual, we could have checked everyone in using our old school adhesive labels with pre-printed numbers.

We had a few other glitches, which I'll go into detail about in future posts, but they were minor.  God blessed our socks off tonight.  We had about 50 kids in the nursery, 120 in preschool through fifth grade and tons and tons of guests.

I know that that smooth of a night is simply the grace of God.  But His grace wasn't just in the form of miraculously healing our check-in printers.  It also occurred months and years before as He built a phenomenal Children's Ministry team who went above and beyond to prepare the way for tonight's launch.

In future posts I'll be going into detail about some of processes our team went through to make tonight such a great experience for our families.  But for now it's off to bed to prepare for two more launch weekend services.  Sunday promises to be busy with plenty of kidmin lessons to learn along the way.

How about you?  Have you had any epic fails or near misses with technology that threw a wrench in a big event or weekend service?  How did you deal with it?  

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