Saint Andrew UMC in Kansas City knew it wanted to do a better job of reaching out to it’s community. It also knew that to do that, it needed to look more inviting.
The renovation started in February 2015, but the vision to enhance the sanctuary began several years earlier. Pastor Antonio Settles was appointed to St. Andrew in 2014.
“When I arrived at St. Andrew, the preliminary plans were in place,” Settles said. “Together we finalized the design and began the renovation.”
The radical hospitality at the church begins with parking lot greeters and continues through to the ushers, the greeting time during worship and the time immediately after worship when people are heading for the door.
The church has several growth groups. Once per month, a men’s group called the Locker Room meets at the church. The next week the group is for families. The following week is a women’s group called Sister-to-Sister.
The sanctuary renovation was modeled after the chancel area at nearby St. James UMC. The flexible space can be set up in three configurations. The church wanted to open up their worship space, which would allow more space for the choirs, instruments, pulpit, and worship leader, thus giving the congregation a more lively experience in worship. The original design was less inviting and created a distance between the pulpit and the worshippers.
“Our worship experience is very engaging, and for that to happen in broader and more liberating ways, the worship space needed enhancement. This design allows those that lead worship to be free, like the Holy Spirit,” Settles said.
The church has multiple choirs: a men’s chorus, a women’s choir and a Voices of Judah choir. Praise bands are being developed.
The church has a new screen and projector, and lighting and sound have been upgraded.
“We’re bringing it into the 21st century,” Settles said.
The wooden pulpit and communion table were replaced by modern see-through ones.
“We now have people designated to intentionally greet visitors, and try to get to know them and make a connection,” Settles said.
“We’re trying to shave down the fear and anxiety visitors feel with walking into an unfamiliar place without being overwhelming. I think of it as like good sales people in a department store – friendly and available to help.”
The church received 18 new members is 2014, 31 in 2015, and 34 in 2016. The average attendance has gone from about 55 to 115.
“We’re not inviting people to church, we’re inviting them into the family of Christ,” Settles said.
First time guests get a welcome bag that includes a DVD, newsletter, calendar of events and wristband. They receive four follow-up phone calls – from the church secretary, the membership chair, the connection team and the pastor. On Wednesdays there is a one hour class for new members. It goes for 10 sessions. On the eighth session, there is a gifts assessment.
“We have a very intentional path to discipleship,” Settles said.
The next steps will involve some renovations in the Narthex.
“We hope to move to the place of gathering for phase two and make it more inviting. The Drew is on the move, and I am thankful to be part of what God is doing here,” Settles said. “We also want to thank the Office of Congregational Development, the United Methodist Foundation and the Heartland District for their support of the vision of St. Andrew.”