I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go to the house of the Lord!” [Psalm 122:1]
You can sense the psalmist’s joy. It was time to worship. Alas, there is no biblical indication of what service he was talking about. Do you think he was an 8:30 person? Or would you go with the odds and assume 10:00? Of course, those who prefer contemporary worship might feel that kind of excitement could only mean the guy’s talking 11:15. This won’t be your normal Newsletter article. Rather than some whimsical anecdote, this month I’m soliciting your feedback about one of the most important yet least significant aspects of going to church: worship times. We’re just finishing up our summer slate—two services, one at 9, the other at 11—and now we are going back to our “regular” three-on-Sunday schedule—8:30, 10:00, and 11:15. However, “regular” is in quotation marks for a reason. For more than a year we experimented with a Saturday evening contemporary service. Although many people have said they liked that option, it was not substantiated by attendance. [More often than not, musicians, staff, and their families outnumbered everyone else.] So we moved it back to 11:15 (though it often starts later), and we’ll stick with this schedule, at least for the rest of the year. But then what? That’s why I’d like your input. Not in a survey because the framing of the questions tends to slant the responses. Tell me what you think, what you would like to see (or not see). Offer up some suggestions. What you say will be confidential, but it won’t be anonymous, enabling further dialogue in the weeks to come. Some of you have already been rather clear on what you’d like, and I really like that. My hope is to hear from as many of you as possible. Here are some things to take into consideration:
- Although there is a sign that states maximum occupancy of our sanctuary is 175, the reality is that it starts to feel crowded once it hits 120.
- Most people, and especially families, are drawn to the 10:00 service, whether Sunday School runs concurrently or not.
- We have always done the same blended-style worship at both 8:30 and 10:00; but that need not be the case going forward. Should they be different?
- Is providing a more free-flowing contemporary service format valuable?
- Although worship at 9 & 11 was workable during summer months when attendance trends downward (175 per Sunday as opposed to 220), that may not be the case the rest of the year. We were able to squeeze an adult Bible study between the services this time, but it was a squeeze. To have a sustainable “education hour” between would probably require an extra half hour adjustment to one of the current services.
Back in 2000 we faced a similar challenge. Four months after dedicating our church building we knew we had to add an additional service. At our annual meeting we asked, “Should it start at 8:00 or 8:30?” The vote was 16-12 in favor of 8:00, but that did not seem to constitute a large enough response. So, I went around asking people who weren’t there. It turned out that the results were still around 50-50; however, very few who wanted 8:00 intended to go at that time, whereas most of those who said 8:30 planned on making that their service. That’s why I’m asking for your input. What works for you? What kind of worship and times would you prefer? Tell me, text me, write me your thoughts and suggestions. I want to know how you would complete the psalmist’s phrase: “I was glad when they said to me, ‘Let us go to the house of the Lord…’ at [ insert your preferred time here ]!”