Sacred Space Reimagined: Why “Love SouthPark”

By: Kyle Thompson, Senior Pastor SouthPark Church

The Love SouthPark initiative is a foundational part of the relaunch of SouthPark Church (formerly Sharon United Methodist). The goal of the relaunch is to reach the church’s community for Jesus.

Sharon UMC launched in 1966 in the emerging Sharon community in Charlotte, NC. The congregation flourished for the first 16 years, plateaued for the next 12, and lost 47% of the membership over the 18-year period ending in 2012. The church effectively reached the surrounding Sharon community for Christ. When the Sharon community transformed into the SouthPark community, Sharon UMC did not make the necessary adjustments.

In 2011, God gave Sharon a new vision: to be the spiritual crossroads of SouthPark, leading people to life rich in Christ. In 2013, God added clarity to the vision; specifically, that it was time to relaunch the congregation in the SouthPark community.  The relaunch project was known as Dream Big SouthPark.

The relaunch includes overhauling the ministries of the church to be relevant to the current and evolving community of SouthPark; changing the staffing and lay leadership models; updating the brand of the church including a new name; and  partnering with a land developer to raze the entire campus in order to build a mixed-use development, with the church serving as the anchor.

Dream Big SouthPark has given way to Love SouthPark, as the construction phase of the campus is underway.


The key biblical inspiration is Jesus’ encounter with a Samaritan woman at a well in John 4. The woman went to the well to do an everyday activity (get water), not to find God. While there, the woman encountered Jesus. Her life was forever changed for the better.

The Love SouthPark initiative is an effort to dig wells.  The campus will be a 24/7 village, including apartments, shopping, restaurants, office space, and a hotel. The church will be in the center. Over 12,000 people are expected on campus per week, compared to the 700 previously. The campus will be a tool which will allow the church the opportunity to develop relationships with the community.

An historical inspiration is early America, in which towns were built with houses of faith in the center so the churches and community could intersect and do life together.  A modern inspiration is First United Methodist Church in Chicago, which owns and resides in a skyscraper that also houses residences and businesses.


Sharon UMC owed 7 acres of prime property in the heart of Charlotte’s SouthPark community.  Much of the space was underutilized, while the iconic “ski slope” building had millions of dollars in deferred maintenance.  The congregation believed it could be more faithful with the property entrusted to it.

The church retained 1 acre and sold 6 acres to development partner, Childress Klein Properties.  SouthPark Church will own retail space in its new building, the proceeds of which will help to fund the ministry of the church. The church will also own a large “Times Square-type” electronic screen, leasing screen time to businesses and also generating additional income for ministry.

The church set aside $2.5 million from the proceeds of the property sale in a capital reserve fund to pay for future building maintenance. This will allow more of the funds donated to the church to be used for ministry, rather than for brick and mortar.

The church plans to share its facilities with the community, including a performing arts center to be built in the second of two planned building phases. Additionally, the former six acres will be developed by Childress Klein for over 350 apartments, an upscale hotel and about 150,000 square feet of retail allowing more people to use the space and significantly adding to the tax base of the city.


At the outset, the congregation felt led to provide a model for other churches blessed with location to engage their communities more effectively for Christ. God is using our story to connect with and to inspire other churches. We have been invited to speak at conferences around the nation and have been contacted individually by church leaders from around the US and even Belgium.


At SouthPark Church we talk about the triangle and the square. The triangle represents the church’s biblical mission to do three things: 1. Love God, 2. Love people, and 3. Make disciples. The square represents four things that support the mission of the church: 1. Staff, 2. Facilities, 3. Leadership model, and 4. Programs.

It has been incredibly difficult to make the many changes over the past six years.  We lost over 30% of the congregation in doing so. We think the triangle is so important, however, we are willing to make whatever changes are necessary to the square.

Sacred Space Reimagined: It Takes a Village to Build a Village

Many of us have heard politicians and speakers talk about it “taking a village” to do X, Y and Z. Most of the times that comment is used in a self-promoting way or to make a statement of the need for volunteers and partners to step up. That is understandable.

But that is NOT what we mean.

Before I share the meaning of the title of this post, let me provide a reminder of church history.

When you look back on nearly any Medieval village or any original American colony, what was generally the first building built?  What was at the center of the town?  What was built to accommodate a host of cultural activities?

A Church.

In many of the early American colonies, the church was called the Meeting House. A colonial meeting house was a meeting house used in colonial New England built using tax money. Can you imagine…tax dollars to build a house of worship? The colonial meeting house was the focal point of the community where all the town’s residents could discuss local issues, conduct religious worship, and engage in town business. The colonial meeting house was the central focus of every New England town. These structures were usually the largest building in the town.

In modern America, the above is not generally the case. The “church” building is not the center of the village, town or city. It is not the cultural and business epicenter of our communities. In most instances, it is separated from the rest of culture and an outlier. Some of this separation occurred with the separation of “church and state” legislation. Further contributors to the erosion of the church being the center of culture can be attributed to local zoning ordinances as well as self-imposed separation by the church itself.


As many of you know, I have been assisting churches for over 34 years. During that time, most of the churches I served were isolated from community…whether intentional or not. However, our firm has been involved with a church revitalization project that will be the first of its kind in the USA. Not just Charlotte, but anywhere in the county.

SouthPark Church (formerly Sharon United Methodist Church) is the project I am referring to. We have been serving this congregation for over 5 years to make their dream a reality. What dream is that? Let me explain.

Sharon UMC found itself in a steady decline and had grown itself down from 500 to less than 250. The facility had several million dollars of deferred maintenance and no budget to correct those items or address any life cycle planning. They were in a NO WIN situation. The building was deteriorating. The congregation was dwindling. They had become irrelevant to the community. And with the annual budget declining, things were only going to get worse.

However…they felt God had called them to serve the SouthPark region of Charlotte, NC.

SouthPark is an area “edge city” in CharlotteNorth Carolina. Its name is derived from the upscale SouthPark Mall, which opened on February 12, 1970 (the same year the church was built). At nearly 1.8 million square feet, SouthPark Mall is the largest shopping mall in Charlotte and all of North Carolina. By the way, the church campus resided on 7 acres of land directly across Sharon Road from the mall. Not a bad area to own property.

The area is geographically centered at the intersection of Fairview Road and Sharon Road in the south central sector of the city, about six miles south of Uptown Charlotte. In addition to being home to the mall, SouthPark is also a residential area and one of the larger business districts in Charlotte.

Economically, SouthPark is the home to the Fortune 300 company Nucor, as well as Dixon Hughes GoodmanNational GypsumCoca-Cola Bottling Co. Consolidated, AmWINS Group, Carolinas AGC and Piedmont Natural Gas. FluorBank of America Mortgage, First Citizens BankSunTrust Banks and CSX have major divisional operations located in SouthPark.

Back to the dream.

The church wanted to be the “Spiritual Crossroads” of SouthPark. There was a literal cross roads at the major intersection of Sharon and Morrison Blvd. But the vision and dream far exceeded a physical address. The church wanted to be the spiritual hub of a village within the “village” of SouthPark. They could have easily sold their land and moved out of the area…but that would not have fulfilled the vision.

The next steps were bold indeed. The steps they took are not for the faint of heart or for anyone that is not deeply convicted and committed to a vision.

The church decided it wanted to explore the concept of a mixed use development with the church being a central part. This lead to our team being retained in early 2014 to assist the church to navigate the process.

The first step was clearly articulating the WHY. Not the WHAT…but WHY would they venture into such a project? I can testify to you today that the church has NEVER backed down from the WHY. Every decision, every selection, every meeting, etc. were bathed in the WHY. That is critical to grasp. This initiative, like any other capital improvement, must not be a about a building. It must be solely about fulfilling a vision of ministry.

As of the writing of this post, the Apex development and the construction of the SouthPark Church facility is underway and going full speed with most of the multi-story buildings for retail and apartment use already topped off.

Over the next few weeks, we will be sharing more about this project from the perspective of some of the “village” members that made it a reality.  You will hear from:

  1. Pastor Kyle Thompson, SouthPark Church
  2. Childress Klein, Real Estate Developer of Apex
  3. Alan Wildes, Generis Capital Campaign
  4. Yours truly

In my 34 years of assisting churches, this has been the most impact, challenging, stretching, learning, invigorating project I have ever done. Stay tuned to learn more. In the meantime, check out these videos about the project:

Explanation Video

Campaign Video

Progress Video

Let’s Stop Pretending!

As leaders in our congregations, we are responsible for what happens when the services start. That is a serious responsibility and is an integral component of Facility Stewardship. Well-run programs do not just happen by chance. They all take planning. Proper planning can help facilitate a good event; bad planning will always lead to issues. So, why should we stop pretending? When we consider event planning in the church, we need to stop pretending that it is OK to excuse poor planning by claiming we want to do it this way for “ministerial” reasons.

Whenever you invite individuals into your facility, you are taking on some responsibility for their safety. There are rules you follow that have nothing to do with religious tradition and everything to do with local, state, and federal laws/ordinances. That is a reality when we choose to operate a dedicated facility for religious use. It is not wrong, from a spiritual perspective, to follow these guidelines. Willfully ignoring them is a negative representation of your witness.

How does this relate to event planning? Simple. Planning an event in church represents two essential and separate things. The two aspects are the potential for ministering through the event and the actual execution of the setup of the event. One has spiritual connotations; one does not. One is concerned with the subjective response of the participants; one is concerned with the physical needs to provide the framework of the event. Conflating these two purposes diminishes the effectiveness of both operations.

Perhaps you have heard this before; “Poor planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part.” Unfortunately, for many facility teams they face several avoidable emergencies each week resulting from poor planning. The more this occurs, the harder it is to recognize real emergencies or failures within the system. If everything is an emergency, then nothing is. I may have a shortage of chairs to support all the events I need to…but if I never know how many chairs I need for all my events I have a challenging time proving it. So, what can you do?

I am going to assume you accept that planning an event is an objective exercise. With that, there are essential pieces of information that need detailed and shared. When (time and date), where (location), what (required resources), how (it needs set), and who (who, if anyone, do you need to assist). Do you notice what is missing? Why. As a facility steward, I am willing to trust the ministerial team and accepting that the vetting of the “why” of the event is in line with ministerial efforts. I need to know all the rest so that I can support the event effectively. Let’s look at the essential components of event planning.

When. This is important for obvious reasons. To plan we need to know the date and time the event is occurring (and if it recurs as well). However, clarity in when is important. Yes, I need to know that the service starts at 11. I also need to know if there is an expectation of being in the space starting at 8. Or, perhaps an intent to decorate the day before. All these data points can impact an aspect of the facility that you, as an event planner/owner, are not aware of nor do you necessarily need to be. I do not need my pastor to understand the complexity of staging HVAC to minimize demand charges…I need them to tell me their required parameters so I can schedule appropriately.

Where. It seems obvious, I know. However, when determining a location do not neglect to include the additional support areas that you may need or are expecting to have. Assuming it will be available, or not utilized as a storage room for displaced items due to your event needs, can create drama. In the planning stage it is helpful also to consider if you will need different spaces at various times throughout the event. This has a real potential monetary impact. Specificity on the when for your where allows for the facility steward to only run HVAC, or turn on lights, or send staff over when required.

What. What do you need? Spoiler alert. Facility stewards are awesome, but they are not mind-readers. Sure, we may have done this event in the past…along with the five-thousand other events (which, by the way, is a pretty common average for the number of event setups/year for churches). If you make me guess what you need, and I mess up, the fault remains on you. I want to know everything you want. Telling me everything beforehand allows me to support you better, and to plan my staff efficiently. Having more than you need already present is preferable than having to scramble when the event starts.

How. This goes hand in hand with “what.” How do you need everything setup? Unless your desired setup would lead to a high likelihood of death and destruction, I am willing to set it how you request. If you tell me “just do what makes the most sense” mean it. Facility stewards know their facilities, they know what has worked and what has not regarding setups. If they offer a suggestion, it is not a negative towards you; it is merely a subject matter expert offering guidance learned over time. Again, a facility team wants your event to run smoothly; it makes our lives more enjoyable.

Who. Do you require a subject matter expert to assist you? Perhaps you need sound, maybe IT support. Maybe you need a specific coffee and tea spread. When you are planning your event identify all those individuals you may need assistance from. When you do, let them help determine the best way and manner to assist as well. If you are going to give a presentation, bring your gear into the IT team BEFORE the event, like a day or two, to give them time to make sure everything is compatible. If you are serving food, let the kitchen team know what you want in enough time for them to prepare.

These are the basics of event planning. By the way, your worship service is an event too, and the planning of it should follow the same approach. Can you do this with pen and paper or shared documents and spreadsheets? Sure…if you want to be ineffective and inefficient. There is affordable event scheduling software available for all church sizes. Size does not matter. When you have a facility and events, you need to be intentional in how you plan.

A thoughtfully planned event helps remove potential distractions from the attendees. This, in turn, increases the opportunity to impact folks in a spiritually meaningful way. Proper planning also creates a type of memorandum of understanding between the event planners (typically ministerial staff) and the event support team (usually facility staff). When you, as an event planner, commit to provide me all the information and desired setup needs before the event, I, as the event support team, commit to supporting your event in the exact manner and time you requested. I will do whatever it takes to respect your event because you have appreciated my contribution. We are all one Body, with distinct functions. Let’s celebrate that and do all we can for each other.

By Nathan Parr, Facility Specialist, Cool Solutions Group

A Week in the Life of a Worship Leader – FREE eBook

Are you a Worship Leader?  What does that title really mean and who falls into that category?

As I shared a couple weeks ago, I served as the Interim Minister of Music for a church in Charlotte, NC for a couple years.  I was responsible to lead congregational singing (from behind a pulpit…wearing a suite and tie), song selections, special music selections, choir specials, orchestra specials, seasonal events, etc.  So…was I a “Worship Leader?”

I would say yes…but not a very good one given what I know today.

The term Worship Leader is actually relatively new (last 15-20 years). I don’t think Bach was called a worship leader.

So, who falls into that category?  Here are some other terms that I believe are used:

  1. Minister of Music
  2. Choir Director
  3. Worship Pastor
  4. Choir Master
  5. Lead Musician
  6. Music Team Leader
  7. Music Pastor
  8. Precentor
  9. Cantor

So…it appears that the title can be a number of things, but at the crux of the matter…it is all about leading others in worship regardless of the style of music and religious tradition.

Worship leaders are an essential part of a church and their services. Worship leaders are responsible for helping people immerse themselves into worship and get settled in to hear the sermon. They help stitch all the elements together to create beautiful tapestries of sound for the congregation. But more specifically, what does a worship leader do?

The very act of leading worship is not as easy as it looks. It requires many hours of practice, careful selection of music, and the ability to work with a diverse and constantly changing team of worship members, and to play instruments or sing. A church worship leader helps the worship team (again…this can be called many things…like choir, ensemble, etc) work together to make the music flow in a way that glorifies God to the max.

The role and responsibility of a “worship leader” is significant and in many cases is far more entailed than just having musical skills.

To that end, our team has partnered with Kenny Lamm to provide you with a new and FREE eBook on this topic –A Week in the Life of a Worship Leader

Kenny is the senior consultant for the Worship and Music Team at the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina. Previously, he served 23 years as worship pastor of Front Street Baptist Church in Statesville, North Carolina. Under his leadership, the church experienced worship renewal and became a model for many churches seeking to transform and improve their worship services.

Kenny is a frequent worship clinician and guest worship leader. His heart for the nations has also taken him to international fields of service. He has led worship conferences and outreach events with North Carolina Baptist worship teams throughout Malaysia, Singapore and two other Asian countries. Kenny also spent a summer in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, working with churches in worship renewal. Revisions of the curriculum developed for these events continue to be used extensively in equipping worship leaders in churches today around the world and are currently published in English and Chinese.

Kenny received his bachelor’s degree in music from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He also has his master’s degree in church music from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, where he was a Rice-Judson Scholar and completed doctoral-level classes in worship to receive the Advanced Graduate Certificate in worship studies from Northern Baptist Theological Seminary in Chicago, Illinois.

If you are a worship leader, or any of the other titles used above, you are going to want to download this free resource and share it with your team.  You will be encouraged and may see things in a new light.

Click HERE to download your copy.

Worship Planning and Church Revitalization

If you recall from last week, we talked about how important intentional worship planning is for your church. This week we take a step further and are honored to share a podcast that we did with Dr. Thom Rainer recently.

Tom Metz, the founder of WORSHIPPLANNING.COM, who is now part of the Cool Solutions Group team, joined us to add context to this topic.

The podcast features the following:

  • Regardless of the size of your church, you need to be planning your worship services well.
  • More people than just the pastor and music leader are involved in planning a worship service.
  • Your church building should help your church better fulfill its mission of making disciples.
  • Regardless of the size of your building or congregation, planning is necessary.

To listen to this 22 minute podcast, click HERE


Worship Leaders Have a Choice

Finally…worship leaders of churches of any and every shape, size, style and methodologies have an option when considering the right tool to help them best manage their worship services. For as long back as I can remember, there has been one dominant option for worship leaders to use…and you know who I am referring to.

They are the 800 pound gorilla.  They clearly have market dominance.  They have set a standard and watermark for many aspects of service planning.

But…now you have an option.

We are honored and excited to announce that Cool Solutions Group and eSPACE have acquired to add to our suite of intentional planning tools. With this acquisition, coupled with some significant enhancements and added features, worship leaders have a viable alternative to the incumbent. We are firm believers that competition is the basis for better products for the market…in this case for your church.

Check out all the features you get with your WorshipPlanning account…all starting at only $25/month for up to 5 planners (those that need to actually  plan services) and UNLIMITED Helpers (think of helpers as your choir, praise team, techs etc.).  You will be blown away!

Service and Events
Create multiple services (aka a series) at once
Custom data fields for services
Service linking for easier management of identical services
Associating files with the service (as opposed to only with the elements or songs)
Schedule rehearsals
Share services to public with special link (via email or social media)
Calendar feed of all services
Ability to project slides Via integration
Variety of printout options
“Virtual Stage” design, drag and drop (with printout option)
Tasks tracking (assignable, with notifications) Coming soon
Rehearsal attendance indicator (“Can you make it? Yes/No”) Coming soon
Team-level rehearsal scheduling Coming soon
Ability to create a variety of event types (not just worship services) Coming soon
Worship Flow
Down-to-the-second scheduling
Set-list planning mode
Add per-elements general notes, or notes specific to roles, teams, or people
Track “views” of worship flow (who and latest)
Allow and track “Likes” of worship flow
Plan multiple, identical flows at once
Select song key (and modulation) specific for that service
Define song map/sequence (order of song parts) specific for that service
Create and apply worship flow templates
Inline editing of worship flow element details
Custom color and name dividers
Drag-and-drop SongSelect integration (right into the worship flow page)
Pre-service elements
Variety of printout and export options (Word, Excel, and PDF)
PDF Setlist Builder (with viewing/scrolling on tablet)
Virtual sheet music Via OnSong integration
Auto-generation of audio playlists for MP3s, Spotify, and YouTube connected songs
Full worship flow details printing
Custom Column worship flow printouts (shows desired notes for roles/people/teams)
Assignment printouts for one or multiple services (per team)
Assignment export for one or multiple services (per team)
Volunteer sign-in sheet (per team)
Song Organization
Song Importing (SongSelect, CSV, etc.)
Integration from LifeWayWorship
Included ”Top Songs” list with basic info and links to Spotify, YouTube, Amazon, and SongSelect connection
Ability to create chord sheet in lyrics section of song
Key transposing of chords in lyrics section
Key transposing of uploaded MP3s
Unlimited file attachments
Auto-generation of audio playlists for MP3s, Spotify, and YouTube connected songs
Create and share virtual song books (with teams or with public)
Song usage report, including chart of usage per month
”Last Performed” date sorting
Match/sync song data with CCLI SongSelect and Rockin’ With The Cross (coming soon). Subscription to those services required.
Print/Export options
Import from CSV option
User Accounts
Unlimited user accounts (“Planner” count limited by subscription, “Helper” count is unlimited)
Access levels to limit what each user can do or view
Skill indication (set by the team leader)
Notification channels: one or more email addresses, one or more SMS text numbers, Facebook notifications
Ability to block days not available to serve
Serving preference indication
WP: Selecting specific days and roles
Bypass login with special link embedded in notifications
Charting of serving history/frequency for past year
Calendar feed of assignments (for real-time updates to appear on personal calendar)
Team Management
Contact info sharing among team
Delegation of team management responsibilities to one or more team leaders
Location designations (none, one, or multiple) for teams
Restrict teams from accessing worship flow details (including music)
Availability Calendar showing the team leader what members have blocked off days in a calendar view.
Uploading and sharing files for team members
Serving “templates” to define typical line-up of roles needed to serve
People/Team Scheduling
Drag and drop scheduling
Assignment notifications via text, email, Facebook
Respond to assignment via email, text, Facebook, website, or mobile web app
Schedule conflict detection across various services and locations
Scheduling across multiple weeks in a single view
Ability to schedule people that don’t have a login account to WP
View past and future schedules
Scheduling entire team at once
Serving “templates” to define customizable line-up of roles
Find the most qualified person to serve in an open role
Find a substitute (initiated by team leader or volunteer)
Assignment reminders (email, text, Facebook)
“Please respond to the schedule request” reminders
Team leader notified when team member responds to an assignment (configurable)
Print/export schedule (single or multiple services)
Charting of serving history/frequency for past year
Email, text, Facebook
Schedule response options embedded in notifications (i.e. email or text contains links to “accept” or “decline” the assignment request).
Team Leader notifications when team member responds to an assignment (configurable)
Configurable (per team) auto-reminder of upcoming assignment
Configurable (per team) auto-reminder of pending assignment response (i.e. remind the team member every few days that they still need to respond to the assignment).
Push notification to desktop, laptop, and Android browsers Coming soon
Single or multi-location capable
Teams can be configured for one or more locations
Cross-location checking for schedule conflicts
“During Event” Functionality
Projector presentation functionality Thru integration with Proclaim
Virtual Sheet Music for use on stage Thru integration with OnSong App
Mobile Functionality
Mobile web app
Responding to assignments
Viewing worship flow details
Viewing/listening to song files
Editing the worship flow
View contact info of fellow team members
3rd-Party Integrations
Church Community Builder
Rockin’ With The Cross
ProPresenter In Progress
PraiseCharts Future
MediaShout In Progress
eSPACE Event Scheduler Coming Soon
Support and Training Options
KB Articles
General Info about Company
Better Business Bureau rating A+ Since joining BBB in 2006
Headquarters location Charlotte, NC
Customer support hours Urgent: 24×7
Non-urgent: 8a-5p EST  (M-F)
Training options Video tutorials, webinars (live and recorded)
Service reliability 99.999%
*Watch the introductory video below to get to know Worship Planning!

Worship Requires Planning

Back in the mid 1990’s, I was a “remunerated volunteer” at a large church in Charlotte leading the instrumental music…a role I thoroughly enjoyed. During that tenure, which was about 12 years, the Minister of Music position was in transition on 2 occasions. During those times, the Senior Pastor called on me to lead the choir, lead congregational singing and prepare the seasonal concerts and events. BTW…this was all PRE-TRIPLETS!

Fulfilling this role as Interim Ministry of Music was a great experience for me. I had the opportunity to work side-by-side with senior staff and volunteers. The pastor and I would meet each week to plan the “order of service” including sitting at a restaurant with our hymnals out to select songs. I would then plan a month or more of choir anthems and call to worship as well as instrumental specials.

While I really enjoyed that time, looking back I have to confess that I did not do a really good job on being intentional with planning the worship service. Sure, we randomly picked 2-3 hymns, a special music component and the like. But…was it really intentional? I don’t think so. We checked a box and then moved on.

Today I see the need for far more intentionality and planning. Here are just a few examples:

  • Which instrumentals are needed and who can participate?
  • What if one of them cancels, who is next in line?
  • What is the order of service?
  • Has the timing been considered for each component?
  • What are the transitions between components?
  • Do we have key changes?
  • When do the musicians, singers or choir leave the platform?
  • When do the come back up?
  • Who from the tech team is available?
  • Do the slides flow well and match the order of service?
  • Do we have ushers assigned?
  • Etc!

I am sure you are asking why a “facility guy” is making a big deal out of this. Actually it is pretty simple. I am a huge proponent of “FACILITY STEWARDSHIP” and one of the key aspects of being an intentional facility steward is in the proper utilization of the facilities God has entrusted to us. That includes, among many other things, the planning of our worship services.

“But we are a small church, why do we need to plan?”

Here is a great quote from one of our Technology Specialist, Tom Metz, regarding that question:

Being intentional is important for every church and ministry size. Planning is the real world manifestation of being intentional. When you’re going on a long trip, do you say “I don’t need to plan my route because I drive small car”?

Get the point?

I have one final word: P-L-A-N.

Do You Rent Your Facility? We Can Help.

One of the highest priority features that the eSPACE community has been requesting is a means by which to implement a Billing and Invoicing system for facility rentals.


We are excited to announce the release of the new BILLING and INVOICING module to eSPACE. Here are just some of the features:

  1. Assign a rental value to any SPACE, RESOURCE or SERVICE within your Event Scheduler.
  2. When creating an event that also includes rental, select the ITEMS needed which in turn will produce a proposal to be sent to the requester.
  3. Provide a means by which the requester can accept the proposal digitally.
  4. Add discounts if appropriate.
  5. Adjust ITEM billing amounts on the fly if needed.
  6. Add sales tax if appropriate.
  7. Require a deposit and collect the same in-app through our payment processor.
  8. Invoice for the balance/In-full amount.
  9. Collect all payments via a credit card and have it deposited directly into the appropriate account.
  10. Export a log of all rentals to an Excel/CSV file in order to upload to your accounting software (if applicable).
  • No more manual invoices or proposals.
  • No more guessing if invoices have been paid.
  • No more collecting paper checks.

All for only an additional $50/month!!!

Check out this video to learn more, then contact us to get started.


Cool Solutions Group, eSPACE, BEMA and Rock RMS are excited to announce the development and release of the eSPACE Quick Event Plugin for Rock RMS.

If you want to utilize the eSPACE Event Scheduler as your best-in-class event and facility management tool, but also want to integrate it with your Rock RMS account…wait no more! The eSPACE Quick Event plugin is here and allows eSPACE customers to quickly create events from within Rock.  This plugin will allow you to link the plugin to eSPACE by using your eSPACE login. From this plugin you can:

  1. Create an event
  2. Describe the event
  3. Set the date(s) and times
  4. Establish SETUP and TEARDOWN times
  5. Mark if it is a “public” event
  6. Set the number of attendees
  7. Set “locations” if you have more than one campus
  8. Select the Category of the event (Children, Adult, admin, etc.)
  9. Select the SPACES/RESOURCES/SERVICES desired
  10. Select the quantity of Resources and Services needed

BOOM…simple.  Once this is saved, it will become “Pending Approval” status.  If the event does not need any more details….that is it.  If there are more specific details needed to be incorporated into the event, you can add those attributes on the eSPACE side at any time.

This is our first plugin with Rock and we are excited to make the Quick Event plugin available to all Rock churches!

To learn more, click HERE.

Are Mergers Changing the Church Landscape?

I can tell you from our experience, that Church Mergers are definitely changing the landscape of the church world. From planning opportunities, to revitalization, to combining resources or rescuing a church that is in decline.

I am honored to have 2 friends that are the pioneers in describing this movement. Jim Tomberlin (THE Multisite guy and co author of “Church Locality: New Rules for Church Buildings in a Multisite, Church Planting, and Giga-Church Worldwith me) and Dr. Warren Bird of ECFA wrote a book a few years ago called “Better Together: Making Church Mergers Work“. I have recommended these a number of times to numerous churches and they been road maps for many that were/are considering a merger.

Jim and Warren are working on some updates to the data they originally provided and could use your input.  Below is a post from Jim that will describe this further and provide you links to take a survey.

PLEASE help us with this research…and thank you Jim and Warren for your ministry!

By Jim Tomberlin

I stumbled into my first church merger experience accidentally in 2003 (and if you have a merger experience, I’ll end this short article asking you to share it).

Looking for a place to plant a regional campus for a Chicago suburban church, I came across a school in a great location. But another church was already meeting there. I left my card, and told them that if that church ever leaves, call me.

I got a call, but it wasn’t from the school. The church phoned and said, “We don’t have a pastor. Can we join you?’”

I responded, “I’m not sure that’s a good idea.”

I tried to dissuade them, but they insisted.

Eventually, I gave in. With 150 church members from my church combined with the 150 people already in the school we relaunched as a new church. Fifteen years later it has grown to 2,000 regular attendees.

When I went back for the 10th anniversary, of the original 150, about 125 were still there. They told me it was the greatest thing that ever could have happened to them.

In 2011 I co-authored a book with Warren Bird, Better Together: Making Church Mergers Work, about the emerging church merger trend that I had experienced firsthand (and maybe you have too!).

We described how these new kinds of mission-driven mergers were different than the survival-based mergers of the past. We also observed that many of these mergers were an unintended but positive consequence of the multisite church movement.

Since then we have seen an explosion of all kinds of church mergers beyond multisite outcomes. More church leaders are seeing mergers as a church-plant strategy, pastor-search strategy, succession strategy, community transformation strategy and denominationally driven revitalization and replant strategy.

A decade later, with a seismic culture shift in church attendance and changing attitudes towards local churches, it’s time to do another nation-wide, comprehensive survey on church mergers to capture the trends in these new developments.


If your church has experienced a merger–or unsuccessfully attempted a merger in the past–would you give us your take on our church merger survey?

In partnership with The Unstuck Group, Leadership Network, ECFA, Fortress Press, and others, we are offering several incentives for church leaders to take our survey–and to forward it to others who have a church merger experience. Plus we’re planning a free webinar to survey participants to reveal and discuss the initial findings from the survey.

Just go to this link and tell us your thoughts about mergers. As one of the many ways we’ll say thanks, we’ll also email you a summary of what everyone else said.

Thank you,
Jim Tomberlin, lead author of Better Together: Making Church Mergers Work

Questions? Contact