Starting a New Worship Service: 5 Things We Are In The Middle Of Learning

fireup1We have just recently added a fourth Sunday morning service in our church.  We now have two services held in the Sanctuary and two held in another space called the Family Life Center.  Our church is an established church that has been in the community since 1843. In recent years, it’s grown, even in this small town, to a point that roughly half of the attendees don’t live in the same zip code as the church. The reason for beginning a new service was  1) the sanctuary is and has been full for quite some time, 2) it’s an opportunity to reach new people for Jesus.  Here’s the current Sunday morning worship scheme:

8:00 – Sanctuary – Sr. Pastor Preaches – Piano /Hymn Led

9:00 – Family Life Center – Sr. Pastor Preaches – Worship Band Led

10:30 – Sanctuary – Sr. Pastor Preaches – Choir / Piano / Organ / Hymn Led

10:35 – Family Life Center – Preaching Team comprised of staff and other leaders – Worship Band Led

Here are five things we are in the middle of learning:

1)  Weekly Ministry Rituals Are Being Shaken Up:  Adding a new service with another preacher has caused us to rearrange how we plan and when we meet to plan for preaching themes and scriptures.  Lately, we have been meeting early on Wednesday mornings and late on Wednesday evenings to accommodate for volunteer leaders who aren’t available during the day.  These times are growing in fruitfulness.  Follow up systems with guests has changed since there are now potentially new people who don’t meet the Sr. Pastor.  Until now, we have relied on the uncanny gift of the Sr. Pastor to remember who was new and who wasn’t – and most of their names.  That’s beginning to shift.  The Sunday bulletin had to be redesigned to become more functional.  It’s caused us to plan ahead and to be more aware of scheduling.

2)  The Mission to Reach People is Being Renewed.  Starting something new is really a motivator for the church.  Because of the new service, we have new musicians, new tech team members, new preachers and a renewed sense of mission as we invite people to participate in ministry. Opportunities to teach on mission, vision and membership have also increased.  When a leader has to explain the “why” to people, the leader also grows in a clearer understanding.  The church is reminded of why they are here – to reach people.

3)  It Takes Work.  Much has been written on large churches being many smaller congregations.  Mega churches aren’t building larger sanctuaries.  They are adding several smaller worship services in smaller venues.  Reading about growing churches, sustainable additional worship services and successful church planting is always inspiring and encouraging.  But the hard work doesn’t always seem to come through when you read those things.  It takes work to add another person prepping a sermon for the day.  It takes hard work to have another team lead in worship. It takes work to be creative, plan ahead and mobilize team members.  It also takes work to evaluate and be flexible enough to change.

4) The Attenders Reflect The Community.   The idea of a target age groups seems to be eluding us.  Though initially we talked about a particular age group, it seems, by default, the target has been just to offer another time slot with a slightly different style – then see who comes. Over the last few years there has been a push for more intentional family approach to ministry – the idea of the family showing up to church then splitting into several directions has slowly been changing.  We’re also realizing that we have to contextualize the message to the people in our region – setting up the opportunity for worship and outreach, then ministering to people who respond.  So far, we have found that the age range and style of people attending is as varied as all of the other worship services offered.  It’s the job of each local church to meet the needs of their community and surrounding area.  If every church does this well, we will reach the world.

5) The ‘We’ Focus Has Been Amazing.  I can’t imagine embarking on something like this without the backing and the support of the congregation. We spent time praying for the service and still do.  We did quite a bit of initial prep and we’ve kept the purpose of the new service in front of people.  Just last week, the attendance between the two Sanctuary Services and the Family Life Center was identical.  Long time members have been asking how it’s going.  Others have come to check it out in support.  One lady last week heard that it was a different preacher in the 10:35 service so she just stayed another hour to hear a different message.  Many of the tech team, the band and worship leaders have invested heavily into making the new service happen for these first few months. A whole host of people have gone from serving from 7:30 am – 10:00 am for years to serving from 7:30 am – 11:35 am.  They’ve added in an extra hour.  Even as I type this, I’m thankful to be a part of a mission minded, flexible and outreach oriented church.  It also makes me realize that we need to incorporate another season of prayer and fasting specifically for the continued growth of this service.  Everyone needs to be stay on board as we push hard to grow the new service and all the worship services and ministries of the church.


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