As we were preparing for our transition to two services in September, I did a lot of reading on how to accomplish that shift. One of the articles I read made what I thought was a brilliant point. In the article the author, Matt Keller, wrote:
1. Moving from one service to two services is a major cultural shift for your people and is going to make people nervous.
It was a simple statement, but one that helped me understand that even though I have been thinking about this transition for quite a while, the people who attend New Life may find the shift uncomfortable. Truth be told, I’m probably as nervous about the transition as anyone, but probably for different reasons.
So I thought I would take some time today on the blog to write about why we are not making this change and why we are making the change.
First the “why nots”…
- We are not starting a second service because we want to break up the church into two distinct groups. I love the feel of our church community with so many people who are so different in so many areas of our lives coming together to worship Jesus and live in community with each other. I love seeing the kids talking with the grandparents after church, and love seeing the single folks mixing in with the married folks. I love all of that, and don’t want to see any of that change. This is a major reason why we will be offering Kids Church and Nursery at both services.
- We are not starting a second service so that we can be a “big church”. I have spent most of my life in churches with an average attendance under 100. I know small church life like the back of my hand. Moving beyond that number actually scares me just a little. So I have no interest in being big for the sake of being big. What scares e more, however, is the possibility that we would be so comfortable staying small that we would miss the opportunity to reach the people God wants to reach all around us.
So, how about the “whys”…
- We are starting a second service because we need more room. Our average attendance has grown from just under 60 to 105 in the last 4 years. When we put out our chairs on Sunday, we have just enough to seat everyone who shows up each week, and it’s gotten a little uncomfortable. You might think that it’s fine for you because it’s what you’ve grown accustomed to, but when a guest shows up for the first time on Sunday morning, we’d rather not have to shoehorn them into a seat.
- We are starting a second service to serve our mission. We want to see unchurched and dechurched people in our community walk through our doors, hear about a relationship with Jesus that changes their lives, and then start taking steps to pursue that relationship for themselves. We know that there are people in your life who need that life-changing encounter with Jesus, so we need to open p the seat next to you so that you can invite them in to have that experience.
- We are starting a second service because we expect God to keep bringing people to us who need his grace. There is a fine line between being expectant and presumptuous, but I think that we are aligned with God’s mission in bringing people into life, and I believe he wants to continue to use ur church for that purpose. I’m not going to say we will explode with growth, or make any foolish predictions, but I do believe that as we open the seats in our building, God will help us to fill them with the people in our lives who need to be there.
I could probably say more about each of these, but that sums it up pretty well. And while I’m looking forward to this with a mixture of fear and expectation, the greater part of me is hopeful that this step, while a stretch in the present, will allow us to step even further into God’s purpose for our church.