We are two days away from our Community Launch of the 801South worship experience. I know that many of you have seen or heard our external marketing, as well as relational engagement through various events in the surrounding community. I have been very pleasantly surprised with the traction of our external marketing efforts. We’ve heard multiple stories of people who were previously disconnected from a community of faith now coming into 801South simply because they heard the radio spot on the local top 40 pop station or saw the print ad in Creative Loafing, among other area publications.
I have learned that with every new step we take, there are unexpected results. Following the “Invitational Launch” this past April, we started to see people who have been a part of Matthews UMC for years begin to attend worship more often. We had not thought about that potential as we were planning the 801South environments, but we definitely celebrate it!
Similarly, we had not considered how the external marketing and community engagement would energize the established 801South base. When those who have been a part of 801South from the beginning experience our commitment to reach the stated demographic through external marketing, it further encourages them to spread the word. I have witnessed a greater excitement in the lives of 801South leaders and servants as we strive to get our message out into the community. They have something else to cheer. “Hey, that’s my church!” Again, this residual result is not something we anticipated, but another win that we celebrate.
I was reminded of earlier this year when we were preparing for our Invitational Launch on the last Sunday of April. We gathered the 801South Launch Team one last time and explained that it was not the end. In fact, it was only the beginning. So in a way, it was the end of the beginning. We used the metaphor of an extended starting line. Preparing for the launch is just one huge starting line with the launch sitting at the end. It is not the finish line.
So here we sit, at the end of another extended starting line. We have not made it. We have simply made it to the new beginning. The prayer, hard work, and commitment of everyone that has been involved in this process continues to inspire and energize me. The funny thing about a new initiative that exceeds expectations is that the success automatically creates the need for more prayer, more work, and more commitment.
Thank you to all of those who have been a part of this journey. As we take the next step this weekend, I hope you feel as blessed as I am to be a part of this movement.
See you Sunday at 11:00 a.m.
If you have a story to share from our soft launch season this spring and summer, go to the 801South website and let us hear it!