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Last year was the first ever “A Merry Music City Christmas”. The Cross Point Church team dreamed it up that October, and put it together for December. This was the first time any of them had attempted anything like this. The learning curve was steep. They learned quite a few things that they?re carrying over to this year?s event?as they continue their brand new annual tradition.[quote]This was the first time any of them had attempted anything like this. The learning curve was steep.[/quote]

The first thing they want this year is bigger hills and more of them. Each of the team had their own opportunity to ride the snow sledding hills, so the fever got inside each of them. Naturally, they?ll go bigger and better.

They also want to find a way to incorporate an outdoor concert experience to coincide with the sledding and ice-skating. An outdoor concert would help transition people indoors to experience the ?official? concert, plus it would help increase the festival ambiance during?the outdoor experience.

One of the big things they had to set up for this event was external parking and shuttling people to and from the event. The outdoor experience filled their entire parking lot, so they found areas around the church where people could park. Then they had busses shuttling people back and forth. Their goal this year is to start the anticipation early by creating a greater experience on the busses.

They?re also looking to incorporate more characters into the experience, like Buddy the Elf and characters from Frozen.?Of course, they?ll also be looking for ways to tighten up the concert.

Two challenges for them last?year were power and lighting. At that time, their building was new enough that they couldn?t add everything from the front of building. They had to get additional power. Last year, they did that on their own. Zach Steiger (the one tasked with?logistics) isn?t an electrician. The power math got fuzzy, and the generators got noisy. This year they?ll be contracting that out to electricians.

They also plan to make the lighting a bit more elegant. Last year they used construction lights?which worked? But that, mixed with the diesel generators, didn?t provide the best for a family environment.

Finally, they plan to be less ambitious with their hours of operation this year. Last year, the outdoor attractions?were open very long hours. The cost of having vendors there for a couple extra hours?after you?ve already brought them in?isn?t very expensive. Unfortunately, though, they found that the more time you have available for people to be there, the less crowd density and excitement you?ll experience at the event. A great event has great crowd energy. This year, they?re looking to tighten the times people are there so they can increase that energy.[quote]A great event has great crowd energy.[/quote]

Their Advice

Let?s take a break in the middle of this article to tell you what they?d recommend to any church trying to create an event like this. Zach offers this advice:

?Personally, I would try to get in touch with people who have done large outdoor events like this. Most church people haven?t done it. It?s almost like a large outdoor concert or fair. Those of us who are youth pastor and pastors, we haven?t had to deal with permits and noise ordinances. Get someone outside to help with it. I had to call contractors in the church that had more experience in this type of area. The cool thing about this type of event is that it got lots of people involved who might have not otherwise been involved.?[quote]Those of us who are youth pastor and pastors, we haven?t had to deal with permits and noise ordinances.[/quote]

Ongoing Conversations

As they progress into this year and future years of the event, they plan to have many?conversations over the?value of?outdoor versus indoor experience. There?s a tendency for churches, historically, to bait and switch people. They offer people to come for the fun?but oh yeah, there?s also a sermon.[quote]There?s a tendency for churches, historically, to bait and switch people.[/quote]

They?re constantly wrestling with what their goal for this event is. They want people to have a taste of Christmas and also a taste of Cross Point and Christ. You?ll find that sometimes these types of things compete. Some people will leave after the outdoor stuff.

They?re asking themselves up front, ?Are we okay with people coming and leaving? Is it enough that people just show up to the event? Or is it super important that they participate in both things??[quote]Are we okay with people coming and leaving? Is it enough that people just show up to the event?[/quote]

They feel the tension of wanting to force people into the service?but that might be a bait and switch. Or should they?do it with no strings attached?

The point is: these conversations help make sure the whole team is on board. That was one of the big leadership struggles and a balance they?re continually striving for?getting everyone on the same page so they accomplish the goal of the event.

The event stretched their staff. But this year will be even better, because they know what they?re doing now. And they?ll keep getting better as they refine their processes and continually wrestle with the heart behind the event.

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