Calgonville, MO-- Only 27 minor injuries were reported in the most recent evacuation trial at First Calgonville Baptist Church in Missouri. The test was performed by The Evacuation Experts, LLC, a for-profit ministry that helps medium size churches (500-1000 attendees) develop exiting strategies. "A magnificent success," said Pastor James Rachele.
Put yourself in this situation-- It's finally over. The fat man has sung. Or, rather, he has said the last "Amen" to the last prayer of the day. Worship has ended, but you are still standing by your pew. Now, you are asking yourself: What is the best and most efficient way to get out of this building and get home? What are the potential delays? What are the pitfalls to taking one route vs. another?
We are not talking about your drive home. We are talking about which aisle or path to take to exit church the fastest. You see delays on the faces of the pastors, worship leaders, and ushers. You see delays on the faces of happy shiny people all around laughing and wanting to shake or hold your hand. You're cornered. You feel like losing your religion.
Since its inception, Evacuation Experts, LLC, referred to simply as EE, has been concerned about the efficient exiting of churches in the event of a lengthy service. EE testers help eliminate the pain of exiting the church after services. "We show you how to get people up and out quickly," said EE spokesperson Mattie Weems. EE testers help ensure that 500-1000 person assemblies at maximum capacity can evacuate the sanctuary in less than 120 seconds-- the time necessary for the average member to arrive home by 12:30, even if the service lasts as late at 12:13.
"There's really no reason for services to extend worship past morning anyway," said Wilma Gilfry, a charter member of Calgonville who has attended since members first met in her home in 1952. "In all my years, I've never seen anyone saved after 12 o'clock. But somehow, invitations and announcements sometimes manage to drag way over into the afternoon past 12:10."
The trials at FBC Calgonville took place on a Saturday morning with 850 volunteer "attendees" posed as members and visitors. All attendees must exit the building using only 1/2 of the available exits. "We want to simulate actual conditions where up to half of the exits may be guarded by pastors and worship leaders who want to hear how much you enjoyed the services," said Weems.
In addition to "pastors" staged at doors, EE testers also try to simulate real situations that can tempt an efficient exiter to pause while exiting:
(1) wheelchairs are placed in the aisles
(2) "old people" stand at the end of pews and attempt to start ailment or surgery conversations
(3) "All Night Bowling" and other fellowship flyers are placed on high-traffic bulletin boards
(4) testers randomly walk up to attendee volunteers and ask them "Where are you from?" "How are you doing?" "Are you new here?" or "I missed you last Sunday."
If you find the invitation dragging on and on week after week, forcing you to have to put your name on the waitlist at Shoney's rather than being seated immediately or if you find yourself missing the entire first quarter week after week, consider encouraging your pastor to contact the Evacuation Experts, LLC.