Monday, October 08, 2007

Why does New Song have two services?

Periodically, we are asked this question. It generally pops up most frequently after we have planted a church and services are smaller or after we have had a great celebration of worship and praise in one of our unified services where both services are combined, or after a season in which we have had only one service like during the summer. This week I got one of those comments in a long, extended unsigned note.

I'm going to break my usual pattern of simply disregarding unsigned notes and give our rational for why we have two services.

1. Two services makes it easier for a family to worship together. With two services, a family can worship together in one service and attend an age or topic appropriate class during the second hour.

2. Two services allow all of our workers to have a
corporate worship experience every week.
It doesn't matter if you are working in nursery, serving as a greeter or usher, teaching children in the Sunday School or helping our youth grow in Christ--it is easier to serve one hour and worship in the other. Without two services, some in our larger congregation would have to choose to be either out of worship altogether or distracted in their worship as they try to juggle two things.

3. Two services allows us to offer more options to our unbelieving neighbors. Some of the people you are presumably trying to reach with the gospel will prefer to come to an early service, some a later one. Two services allows us to reach people with different Sunday habit patterns.

4. One service in the Fall is simply too large. Every study shows that when your facility is 75-80% filled, it becomes unattractive to guests. On a flat floor like our gym, that percentage might be closer to 60%. If we only had one service, we could almost guarantee that we would be less effective in reaching new people for Christ through that one service.

5. Some people prefer the intimacy of the smaller service. Some prefer the larger service (Those are usually the ones that write me anonymous notes!) Two services allows us to meet these different desires without any compromise to the gospel.

6. Overall attendance in worship, even of our regular people, goes down when we only have one service. This is simply the reality that we have seen. We have the cold hard reality of 15 years of experience with this trend and the testimony of every book written that deals with this issue. With the downturn in attendance comes other negative factors. (see below).

7. When people are inconsistent in regular worship, they begin to drift spiritually and relationally. This produces higher counseling loads on the staff, and (this is counter-intuitive) more difficult time in keeping workers. It also results in lower offerings which then puts a drain on all the ministries of the church.

There are numerous pluses to having one service. And trust me, I have heard most of them. But quite frankly, they don't overcome all of the positives of having two services.

Here's a novel idea. Let's pray that God would fill all the worship services of every church in town that honors Him and His word. Now that would produce some problems that would really be worth having!


frodo said...

Rachel not God's chosen??? But Leah was His instrument? Didn't see that one coming! It makes sense! WoW!

Why is Joseph's line split between his 2 sons and the other brothers aren't set up like that? Never understood that.

Craver Vii said...

I like how you handled this, but it reminds me of something.

It was probably ten years ago during a congregational meeting (at another church). I raised a letter over my head and announced that we (the elders/executive council) received a letter from someone, but it was unsigned. So, matter-of-factly, I crumpled it up right there in front of everybody and proceeded with the evening's business. I did not tell anyone what it was about or acknowledge any of the written concerns. The negative cheap shots stopped coming.

There may be occasions where anonymity is allowable, but sometimes it is just used to bypass proper accountability.