The inaugural Movement Day (MD) Charlotte (held Feb. 3 at the Sheraton Meridien) was an “overnight success” several years in the making, selling over 900 tickets in the final weeks leading up to the gathering. Its success wasn’t a foregone conclusion, however. Just over a month before the event, the organizers feared for its success; they’d sold only 200 tickets as of January 1st.
Charlotte presented a unique challenge. Despite many churches and a large Christian population, it was also a “deeply siloed” city, with ministries seldom collaborating, says MD Charlotte Director, Rob Kelly.
Keys to Success
Kelly emphasized the importance of starting early (“tilling the soil”), even years in advance, explaining that the initiative behind his city’s expression began when Movement Day Founder Dr. Mac Pier reached out to Charlotte’s Bishop Claude Alexander over three years ago.
Bishop Alexander is the connector who helped unite local leaders, generating interest by bringing large groups to Movement Day in 2015, Movement Day Global Cities 2016 and Movement Day New York City 2017, while Kelly has attended expressions in London, Dallas and New York. Things were moving slowly until Alexander publicly declared “And coming in 2018…Movement Day Charlotte” from the stage at Movement Day Global Cities, helping “talk” transition into “action.”
Kelly, Alexander and their team also reached out to the community, building a
network of churches, community and marketplace leaders. A key move for Kelly was helping Movement Day Charlotte connect with Casey Crawford, former Tampa Bay Buccaneers Super Bowl Champion and founder of Charlotte-based, Movement Mortgage.
Courting the Marketplace & The Media
The support of Christian business leaders cannot be overestimated. Once the enthusiastic Crawford came on board, not only did he make a generous contribution, but, perhaps more important, he assigned several members of his marketing team to the initiative, helping with publicity and producing an impressive research report on the “State of the City” in Charlotte.
Despite all the planning and effort behind the gathering, ticket sales were sluggish through December. However, months of collaborating with local media led to last minute coverage that boosted sales.
Charlotte has already generated a number of follow-up events and initiatives, the real test of any MD expression, including The Charlotte Mission Platform, an online platform that will connect all churches in the city. Inspired by their success, leaders from other cities — including Philadelphia and Richmond (VA) are planning their own expressions.
In Kelly’s words, “It’s been amazing, the feedback we’ve gotten. My prayer is, ‘How do we capture that momentum and move it forward?’” Movement Day Charlotte 2019 has been tentatively scheduled for Saturday, February 9th.