As you will know by now, our church is adding a second service on Sunday morning beginning Easter Sunday. Let me assure you that this is not a move taken lightly. Your church leadership team has given much thought and prayer to this important stage in the life of our church.
If you are like me, you may have some concerns about making this transition. Allow me to deal with a few of the most common ones now. First, some might say that our church is not yet big enough to begin a new service. We look around on Sunday mornings and we see a growing congregation, but there is still room for people in our sanctuary. This line of thinking suggests that we should not begin a new service until we pack out the present facilities on a regular basis. So, why now? The simple truth is that when a building is too full, new people will usually stop coming. People who are not accustomed to coming to church are put off by pews so full that they can’t find anywhere to sit. I know of several people who recently came to our church on a Sunday morning for the first time. They walked around looking for a place to sit, but there were purses and Bibles saving seats everywhere they went. They felt embarrassed and they left. That is not how we want our guests to feel. Now, I did not write that to condemn you if it was your pocketbook or Bible! My point is that while we could have fit more people into the room, it was too full for new people to be comfortable.
Secondly, some may worry that a second service would split our congregation and create two churches rather than one. It is true that eventually people would gravitate toward one service or the other. This may mean that we won’t see everyone every Sunday morning. It will make it difficult to feel like one big happy family. But, we need to get used to the idea that our fellowship and community time doesn’t really come during the Sunday morning service anyway. It is very difficult to open up and really talk about your problems in a room full of 400 people. The closest relationships are not built over the backs of pews, they are built over coffee, in someone’s home, in your prayer group, Bible study or Sunday School class. We are already at a place where it is impossible to have a deep relationship with everyone in the church. You can’t meet your need for fellowship simply coming on Sunday morning. That’s why we have lots of other groups that provide opportunities for people to maintain the sense of community even though we are a growing church.
Thirdly, if a 10:45 am Sunday service was good enough for the Apostle Paul, it should be good enough for us! This may sound funny, but some people think that church services are supposed to be at that particular time. To this, I simply respond, “Why?” There is no biblical support for this idea.
I hope that I have addressed any major concerns you might have. Now, I’d like to ask you to consider some of the many benefits of adding a second service.
First, a new service will reach more people. Around 80% of churches that begin new services grow by at least 10%. Ours is a society that appreciates choices and convenience. You could come to the early service and still enjoy a nice Sunday afternoon at the lake! By offering more than one service, we provide more opportunities for people to say yes to coming to church!
Secondly, a new service will break us out of the normal life cycle of the church. In last month’s article, I explained how most churches reach a plateau phase in their growth after they reach 30-40 years of age. After maintaining a certain number for a decade or so, the church begins to decline. The Capital Church is at just this stage in its life cycle. We will either figure out how to embrace change or we will die!
Thirdly, a new service allows us to change and at the same time to retain some aspects of the familiar. Change is not easy. People don’t like it. When you get dressed in the morning, you put your pants on one foot at the time. I’m sure there are some exuberant souls who jump into them with both feet and hit the ground running. But, most people do it one at the time…and it’s always the same one first! We are creatures of habit. Having two services will eventually allow us to offer different options in style. For example, if the music is too loud in one service, the other may suit your tastes better. At first, the services will be almost identical. Over time, we will tweak them to suit the needs of those most likely to attend them.
Fourthly, having two services will allow more opportunities for service and for being served. Have you ever wanted to participate in a Sunday morning service ministry but couldn’t because the spot was already filled? If we have more services, there will be more opportunities to get involved. Furthermore, there are a number of people (like the children’s workers and ushers) who miss much or all of the service on the Sunday they are serving. It is sometimes difficult finding volunteers to help in those kinds of ministries because people want to attend the worship service. If we had another service, a person could attend one service and serve in the other—serve and be served!
I could go on: a new service could help us reach the unchurched; a new service will activate inactive members; a new service causes us to be more focused on growth; a new service can help keep our attention directed outwardly.
The bottom line is that we believe a second service will help this church to grow. That means we will be more effective at fulfilling our directive of loving God, loving each other, and loving the world. Would you help us make this necessary transition in the life of this church? Could you consider coming to an 8:30 service? It will take some getting used to, but think of it as an opportunity to reach out. When you attend the early service, you provide room for more newcomers in the later service. That is the service they are more likely to attend. A minor inconvenience could create conditions more favorable to visitors who might come to Jesus on a Sunday morning…if our Bibles and pocketbooks don’t get in their way!