24 Comments

  1. Cindy
    November 25, 2009 @ 10:47 am

    Positives: more space for fellowship after the service, especially as weather gets colder/inclement etc., presumably more space for kids and any other ad hoc rooms, opportunity to witness to others in the hotel and attract the curious

    Downsides: more work every week to set up/tear down (what parts could the hotel cover?), cost, that particular hotel was a little tough from a parking perspective, no set place/additional cost to meet during the week if needed

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  2. Mary Ann
    November 25, 2009 @ 12:03 pm

    The last church plant I was in (Grace DC) first met at the Washington Club on Dupont Circle, it outgrew that and moved to what was then Wyndham Hotel at New Hampshire and M St…. it met there a year or so until it outgrew that. It worked out well considering the hotel did all the chair set up and we rented additional meeting room space for the nursery/children’s church (that was the most labor intensive bringing in that stuff plus the sound eq.) The lobby of the Wynd. was also more spacious so the influx of people was hardly noticed…
    Currently Grace DC meets in a Baptist church in Chinatown (5pm) and has a deal with a parking garage next to it to allow a small allotment of free/ cheap parking spaces for the families with small kids. The church also got discounted passes for the large lot where the old convention center used to be… so there are potential improvements for the parking situation should RAC go the hotel route as there might be lots nearby that might be similarly agreeable.

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  3. davidmartinhanke
    November 25, 2009 @ 12:09 pm

    GREAT insights. Keep em coming

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  4. David
    November 25, 2009 @ 12:47 pm

    I love the ambiance of our little church that I think would be lost in a hotel. I know, I know .. the church isn’t the building. But the building is really important.

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  5. davidmartinhanke
    November 25, 2009 @ 12:58 pm

    totally agree about the ambiance and aesthetics of a hotel. wondering if the value of having enough space for one service all together outweighs the ‘feel’ of being in a hotel. This is not a rhetorical question– which is more important: enough space or the right feel. Both have the potential to limit our growth– there are people who won’t return to TBC because of the bathrooms, or the stuffiness, or the hard pews, etc. But there are people who won’t come to a hotel because it doesn’t feel like church, too sterile, not easy to get through. What do you think is more important David?

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  6. davidmartinhanke
    November 25, 2009 @ 1:00 pm

    From a friend who was there on Sunday. File this under ‘way cool’ and ‘unexpected’.

    The service on Sunday was really inspiring! What a great way to officially launch Restoration!

    I wanted to share with you that while I was “greeting” an employee of the Hilton who was working that day came up to me and gave me a donation to put in the offering plate. He wanted to give something to Restoration but was unable to join us for our service because he was working. I hope he will join us some Sunday when he is not working!

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  7. Jeff Walton
    November 25, 2009 @ 3:19 pm

    Another plus to the hotel: easy metro access. While TBC is within reach of a metro (if you are agreeable to a 15 minute walk) the hotel was directly over a station. Families with minivans won’t benefit, but those who are car-free such as college students, immigrants and city dwellers (or cheap 30-year-olds that work for think tanks) will find it of great benefit. Both Grace DC and Frontline Arlington have chosen metro accessible locations to attract these demographic groups.

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  8. Mary Vinson
    November 25, 2009 @ 5:33 pm

    I loved being able to see everyone! I worship at 8:30 and often feel like I don’t see folks from the 10 AM service for weeks and weeks. I think our community is my priority, therefore the place just needs to be big enough. A warehouse would work for me…..if we could find one.

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  9. Jennie
    November 25, 2009 @ 7:50 pm

    Wow. Hard to follow all of that great feedback! I strongly agree with “being all together”. I LOVED how welcoming the hotel staff was and thought how cool to possibly build relationships there. I worry about the cost, well…cause, as many of you know, that is what I do. Another downside of a hotel vs. somewhere like Trinity, is we have to pay every time we want to hold an event (weeknight fellowship, worship practices, meetings, dinners, etc.) and hotel food/drink is pricey. Except for the hotel staff relationship aspect, I strongly dislike the hotel environment. Makes me feel like I am at a business conference. I also think we would lose a lot of potential folks if we tell them we meet in a hotel every week. If Mary can find a warehouse, with bathrooms, nursery/child rooms, and heat/AC, I’ll take it! :>

    Thanks to everybody who made Sunday happen. It was an amazing experience for me. One I will always remember. I am so grateful to each of you!

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  10. Anne
    November 26, 2009 @ 7:37 am

    Boy, me too. Being all together was the big deal. i missed the funkiness of TBC, and i certainly get it about the aesthetics, but if we can just bring our Restoration-made cross over and hang it up front, that will do it for me, somehow. Just and idea.

    Sunday was really wonderful. We in the pews (chairs) often have very little awareness or understanding of all the work on the part of Louise and Erin and many others that went into such an experience for our church body. Thank you ALL so much for the brain power, the muscle, the logistical work, really EVERYTHING that went into this. No matter where we end up, we will all work together. And we’ll have more hands to help.
    As far as the access goes, the metro is a huge plus, the walk from the mall (all under cover!!!!) is awesome (little kids can do a bit of RUNNING in a really cool spot that is mostly empty before settling down for church) and could make it easy to grab lunch after church with people we don’t normally get to be with…. This will involve leaving home a bit earlier, on the downside, but…..

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  11. Josh Chambers
    November 26, 2009 @ 9:57 am

    I think Jeff’s comment is right on: if we want to continue to attract young people, immigrants, people without vehicles, metro access would be great. And Ballston would be a pretty cool area as it’s pretty diverse ethnically (as far as North Arlington goes anyway).

    It was really cool to see so many people. I really liked that.

    The hotel is pretty ugly, but so is our church building in my opinion. It would feel a bit weird meeting in a hotel, but I fit in the aisles and the chairs were comfortable – I was actually less distracted in the hotel than our current building because I was way more comfortable.

    And the bathroom was real = )

    I vote for a warehouse.

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  12. Josh Chambers
    November 26, 2009 @ 10:00 am

    Oh, one other thing. That bread was awesome, nice work Hannah! It actually didn’t taste like stale, moldy, cardboard this Sunday!

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  13. Tim
    November 26, 2009 @ 3:47 pm

    I’m sorry I couldn’t join last Sunday. But all the comments above brought back fond memories of a growing young church we attended for years in Atlanta. The fond memories are of the “warehouse” years. Somehow it worked in spite of the “warehouse” feeling — the church experienced good growth years, our kids enjoyed it at the time, close friendships were formed, and adult communities met early at the church to build community and ministry.

    I do, however, appreciate the current space at TBC, too.

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  14. Steve B
    November 26, 2009 @ 6:18 pm

    Changing the space means changing the face of who we are. And logistically it is a challenge.

    Spilling out on to Quincy Street allows neighbors to be curious about what’s going on and to engage us in conversation. Meeting in a hotel is so different. In his sermon, Bishop Minns reminded us that “Restoration is not a club.” Worshiping in a hotel allows us to hide; to be less visible to a greater number of people. When you worship with Restoration at a hotel, you have to make a conscious effort to go there and find us. There is little opportunity that one will stumble upon us during their morning run or bike ride. What kind of worship place reflects our core values?

    I know we are growing and we are uncomfortable – but I don’t believe a hotel is the answer. Many of us can sacrifice for the sake of staying in the neighborhood – and one sacrifice is showing up at the 8:30 service to make room for new comers at 10:30. One other major challenge is the movement in and out of the hotel – setting up the nursery and Sunday school every week is hard work!

    I ask that everyone pray for God to provide us with the ideal place to worship. He may not answer any time soon, so in the mean time – make a sacrifice by going to the 8:30 service.

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  15. Steve B
    November 26, 2009 @ 6:20 pm

    Sorry – too much Turkey today – I mean the 10:00 am service.

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  16. Jeff Wilcox
    November 27, 2009 @ 9:58 am

    Our family had an amazing time at the service last week. Many pros as noted above – especially being able to see everyone and hang out in a comfortable setting after. Kids totally loved it – had a hard time getting them to leave. All that said, I spend too much of my work life in those hotel meeting rooms to be very enthusiastic about holding regular services there. Plus I’m sure the logistics were a bear. Might be interesting to do it once a month over the winter and see how it goes.

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  17. Jeff Walton
    November 27, 2009 @ 10:22 am

    Steve makes a good point about the 8:30 service. A few friends and I have made the decision to attend 8:30 whenever possible (which is basically any Sunday that I am not serving at 10 a.m.) Looking at all the folding chairs at 10, it makes more sense to be an early riser and leave space for newcomers at the later service.

    This is the same quandary TFC faces: there is plenty of room for everyone in the building, but since 900+ people insist upon attending the 11 a.m. service in the main sanctuary, it’s a space crunch. Considering that Restoration’s services are identical, we have far less excuse for not worshiping at the more lightly attended service.

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  18. Jennie
    November 27, 2009 @ 1:31 pm

    Yes, please come to the 8:30! The Swishers would LOVE more company. Not sure what the numbers say, but the past three Sundays have felt more crowded at 8:30.

    I have thought about this topic a lot (and prayed some) over the past couple days. Here is where I am as of this second:

    1) HUGE appreciation for the space we have at Trinity, though I completely understand how new comers could be turned off (saw a lot of it 1st hand during our last baptism weekend.) I acknowledge that while I LOVED having everybody together last Sunday, I also get to do a great deal of connecting with folks between services. I LOVE being in a church and in a neighborhood.

    2) The more I think about it, the more I am completely turned off by the hotel concept. Mostly, it just leaves a bad taste in my mouth. Maybe because of the feeling that I am at a work event, and I have been to WAY too many of those in my life. But also for cost and logistics for those who need to set up/clean up every week. Especially children’s ministry/nursery. I don’t mind parking far away and walking, though. And like the Wilcox kids, mine had a blast. They would be happy to meet anywhere, with soccer field being at the top of their list.

    3) I am thankful for God’s sovereignty. I am confident that God knows the perfect location for us. I am praying for clear vision and patience as the plan is revealed to us. In the mean time, I am trying to focus on being joyful for indoor plumbing when I need to use the Trinity ladies closet.

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  19. Richard
    November 27, 2009 @ 9:06 pm

    We miss not seeing all those we’re getting to know who go to 8:30, but we really like the small feel (even the crowdedness) of 10:00 at Trinity.

    Having been in a congregation that worshiped in a school for two years, I would emphasize that the set-up and tear-down is immensely burdensome, and for some aspects (like sound and children’s school) it’s hard to share that burden.

    And then special packing equipment is needed to move everyting in and out.

    And then, when it’s out, space somewhere is needed to store it.

    On the other hand, first-time visiting families (and some singles too) will be turned away from a church that is full (10:30 service) — newcomers tend to arrive late — and are disinclined to try out an earlier service.

    Can we hold our breath until, with God’s grace, a larger church in Arlington becomes available?

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  20. davidmartinhanke
    November 28, 2009 @ 1:29 pm

    Thanks so much for all this great feedback. Really helpful to me. I am motivated by our mission– which is to reach those who are far from the love of God. Our worship services are a big draw for people right now. They are safe places for curious people to hear and wonder about Jesus. Perhaps a second location is in our future– so that we can pursue our mission of getting as many people as possible ready to face God. Keep praying.

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  21. Colin
    November 30, 2009 @ 8:20 am

    Like Jennie my hotel experience is from the inside out, so I have that perspective as well. My take encompasses much of what has already been said. GOOD: metro access, comfortable space, everyone together. BAD: hidden in plain sight, cost, labor, stale atmosphere, etc…

    My concerns with the hotel environment are also thus:
    RAC: big team effort at first, rally to make it work each week. Setting out with the future goal/hope of a permanent home. Slowly morale erodes, enthusiasm begins to dry up, and that begins to bring down the general enthusiasm of the church itself. (all speculative)

    HOTEL: I have spent enough time in the back hallways among the event staff of hotels to know that regular groups like ours are eventually (week 2) not their favorite, especially the weekend variety. During slow times of the year when they actually would have a hope of a Sunday off, each week some of them would have to come in. This drags down hotel morale. Not that this is our problem per se’, but it is often times a reality. For this service I actually received a thank you note from the AV Director “thank you for giving me a Sunday off!” (i had them leave the gear so that we could set it ourselves).

    [There are holes in this this theory; most prominent is that during slow seasons it may actually provide the opportunity for more employees to get much needed hours]

    Nestled in there is another issue. If I am a hotel GM near a metro, I don’t want to commit to allowing a church to use the space every Sunday. During the slow season maybe, but during the busy months many business groups carry their meetings into Sunday mornings, especially medical/other CE courses, and Pharma companies. It would be too big a business risk to commit that space.

    I like the warehouse idea, or a vacant box store. We could make David a Bellian (Rob) space ship in the center to preach from! 🙂 Would be curious what a lease looks like compared to the weekly cost of holding the hotel space. Hey, we could have a skatepark in there during the week and service on Sundays, our first youth pastor could be Tony Hawk! Brilliant!! I’ll send him a DM and see if he’s up for it!

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  22. Thomas White
    November 30, 2009 @ 8:27 am

    I thought that the service at the hotel was an awesome service, but as far as meeting in a hotel every sunday is a bad idea. If anyone wants my opinion, I think we should keep looking for another church that would just as gracious as Trinity is in allowing us to use their building. Also along the four mile run area in South Arlington there alot of warehouses that might let us use there space, thats my two cents worth

    God Bless

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  23. davidmartinhanke
    November 30, 2009 @ 9:48 am

    colin, really thoughtful insights. I am always praying about the ‘weekly attrition’ issue that new churches face. I want us to give our best energy to the center of the mission God has given us, and not get bled dry on the edges. I appreciate your speculation on what it might cost our community and what it might cost the hotel.

    Still praying for that warehouse.

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  24. davidmartinhanke
    November 30, 2009 @ 9:49 am

    Oh, and Tony Hawke? absolutely.

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