Do we really need a third service? Sunday morning worship attendance at the second service has steadily and consistently risen over the past 18 months, to the point where the Sanctuary is functionally full most weeks, with only a smattering of empty seats throughout the room. Additionally, there are often 35 or more cars "creatively" parked outside of designated parking spaces. As God draws more people to worship Him with our church family on Sunday mornings, we have reached the point where we simply have no room for new folks. Our mission - to provide a place for folks who know Jesus to grow as part of a faith community and for folks who don't yet know Jesus to encounter Him - compels us to take some steps, even at some inconvenience and disturbance of our established routines.
Why are we adding a third Sunday morning service? Have we considered ___? No matter how you might fill in the blank, we have almost surely considered it in our broad conversation for well over a year and our increasingly focused discussion over the past few months. We have given special attention to the possibilities of Saturday evening, Sunday evening, Thursday evening, and even an off-site church plant, and there are certainly pros and cons of each option. We very well may end up adding another service among those other options at some point down the road, as the Lord leads and the need arises. But we have decided to proceed with a third Sunday morning service because of the overall simplicity that it offers, in contrast to all of the other options that would require us to create an entirely new thing.
With the third Sunday morning service, its proximity to the other services allows for better stewardship of existing ministry efforts, as we can run on tracks that have already been laid. It allows us to more reasonably consider the "Worship One, Serve One" approach to weekend worship participation. It allows us to more reasonably ask folks who have been attending the second service to consider shifting an hour to the third service (rather than coming back at a completely different time or day). It allows us to more reasonably ask key volunteers to shift and even expand their serving schedule to cover the various serving needs (i.e. asking the worship team to lead over two consecutive services, rather than asking them to come back at a completely different time or day or assemble an entirely different worship team for the third service).
How will this change affect our existing services? The current first service will simply shift from 9:00am to 8:30am, otherwise remaining as is. The current second service will shift from 10:30am to 10:00am and will be slightly trimmed to be closer to one hour long. The third service will be added at 11:30am.
What will the third service be like? The third service will be identical to the second service, led by the same personnel on any given Sunday.
How will the preaching be handled? The plan is for the same preacher to preach at all three services. We will adjust course if we find that our preachers are fainting before the end of the third service.
What children's programming will be offered at each service? When we launch the third service, children's programming for the first service will remain the same, with infants and toddlers together in the nursery. The main energy and investment in children's programming will take place during the second service, where the primary ministries of First Look (pre-school) and Route 252 (elementary) will continue. We are currently developing a simple children's ministry approach for the third service, open to anyone but primarily geared toward children of parents who are serving on Sunday mornings and will be at the church for multiple services.
When will the change go into effect? We will be launching the 3rd service as soon as we are able to resume in-person worship services after the current coronavirus restrictions.
In what ways can I support this important initiative in the life of our church? Attend the third service and volunteer!! We have a broad array of serving opportunities where you can help to fill a need in our children's ministry (especially nursery), media/worship team (tech and musicians), and hospitality teams (parking, coffee prep, greeting, ushering, Info Center). Stay tuned for various ways for you to express your interest to learn more about where you can help (online and print forms, Volunteer Fair, and targeted invitations). Also, we are looking for as many as 100 people who typically attend our second service who would be willing to make a commitment for at least six months to make the new third service their primary worship service. This launch team is critical to both creating a critical mass at the third service and making sure that we actually do create empty seats in the second service.