Connecting Campuses Across a City
The Bible Chapel was born in 1963 when nine couples began meeting, praying, and studying the scriptures together in McMurray, Pennsylvania. It has experienced a stream of steady growth as the area has changed and the congregation has matured. The Bible Chapel rests on the love and sacrifice of its people who’ve always sought to help others find a place in this fellowship.
This large church is not a sleeping giant. It is an active body of employed believers who are engaging their community in the message and mission of Christ. The Bible Chapel has an average attendance of 3,500 adults and children spread across its four physical campuses and an online campus.
Their growth has been impressive, but all growth brings challenges. How could they keep such a large group of people who are spread out over a vast geographical area connected and moving forward in the vision that God has given them?
In 2007, they began to use ACS to efficiently manage their ministry and transitioned to ACS OnDemand in 2011. These programs satisfied their back-end management needs, but as the physical distance between people increased, a front-end ministry need emerged. They needed a way to enhance the already established relationships within their body. Jenn Booth, the Assimilation Coordinator for the past year and a half, was charged with connecting new people to the church and making a large loose group feel smaller and closer.
A Strategy Evolves
Jenn’s job as Assimilation Coordinator is to help people who visit the church find relationships that will support the work Christ is doing in their lives. Jenn facilitates what’s happening on The City, as a reflection of what’s happening in the church. She’s The City champion who gets ministry leaders up and running, monitors engagement, and manages assimilation groups.
In September of 2012, they introduced The City into their plan. They use The City’s secure localized network to strengthen the existing relationships within The Bible Chapel. Unlike traditional social networks, The City is designed for groups, and not individuals. It enhances relationships and doesn’t replace them.
The staff knew that The City was their answer, but getting an established congregation to shift to another social network was a challenge. They developed a solid launch plan, but it was the seamless integration between the ACS products they were already using and The City that made the transition workable. This data syncing feature connects the front-ends and the back-ends of church management.
The transition is going exceptionally well. As of summer 2013, about 1070 people are actively involved in The City. Ministries and life groups use it to communicate physical and spiritual needs to each other catalyzing prayer and care in the body.
Some ministry leaders weren’t sure about The City, but now they see its value. Since it’s designed to foster group communication, leaders see what their people are talking about and learn things about their people they never knew. The hardest part of the transition was getting people to understand the “why” of the City, but once people got started using it, they quickly saw its benefits. It helps the church be the church.
A 21st century technology is used to meet an ancient call to action.