I am a do-it-now kind of guy. Patience, long-suffering, and other things that require me to wait, slow down, or otherwise get distracted from the mission of the moment are not my strong suit. They’re not even my weak suit. So you can imagine my frustration with our long-range planning process. To me, long-range is the next 30-minutes.
I’ve been here two-and-a-half years — 30 months. Twenty-eight months ago we revived a dormant long-range planning committee with their first assignment to “fix” our sanctuary. Our sanctuary was built in 1890 — that’s right — 1890, not 1990. A wonderful example of Victorian Gothic, the sanctuary features the original handcrafted pews, stained glass, the archetypal gothic arches, a lot of dark wood, a balcony and a choir loft.
I know now where the term choir loft originated. Our choir loft is, well…a loft. The choir sits about 10-feet above the pulpit platform and the choir cannot see anything that happens in the chancel area. For some, not seeing the preacher is not a big problem. But, the long-range planning committee was charged with the task of getting bids to lower the choir loft so the choir could see.
Twenty-four months later, the bids came in at $500,000 to $750,000! Lowering the choir loft created major structural problems — we had to relocate the baptistry, move doors, widen entrances, expand the chancel, and the list goes on. And after we had spent $750,000, we would have fewer seats on the main level than when we started. Fortunately, the bids were so ridiculous that we have not taken any action. And the choir still can’t see.
Until last Sunday. Scott Chafee, our Missions and Discipleship Pastor, whom I lovingly call our “Minister of Media,” had an idea. Why not take our digital projector, attach a video cam, and project the pulpit action onto the wall above the balcony? The choir would able to see the projected image but other worshippers would not be distracted.
Yesterday, Christmas Eve Sunday, Scott set everything up, and guess what? It worked! The choir could see and they were thrilled. For the first time in human history, the choir of Chatham Baptist Church could see the preacher. It was a Christmas miracle! (Okay, so I’m getting carried away, but you get the idea.)
We saved $750,000 and solved our problem. Which just goes to show you, quick isn’t always the answer. I just hate lessons like this, but I’m learning.