Has your church ever tried to add a second weekend worship service, only to have it flame out? This was the question that was asked on a small church pastors’ discussion board recently.
Several of the responses were, understandably, along these two lines:
- “That’s a ‘problem’ I’d love to have.”
- “Going to two services killed our momentum. Never again.”
So, yes, needing to add a service is a ‘problem’ many churches would love to face, but if you don’t do it well, it can hurt more than it helps. So let me share with you how our church did it without killing our momentum.
How To Know If It’s Time For Two
First of all, adding a second Sunday morning service isn’t for everyone.
Every church needs to gauge the reasons why they should do it against the downsides of doing it.
Some potential upsides include:
- More worship options might bring new people in
- It might increase your volunteer base, since people can help in one service (like in the nursery) and attend the other
- Adding a second service can create excitement and interest
- The opportunity to do two different styles of services (like contemporary and traditional)
Some potential downsides include:
- Everything has to be done twice, which can be tiring
- Landing on the right start times can be hard (Is the first service too early? Is the second service too late?)
- It puts a time limit on the first service (a positive for some) which is a negative if your church is more open-ended in its worship style
- Creating division, especially if you do two different styles of services
- Killing momentum going from one full service to two half-full services
That last one appears to have been the concern of most of the commenters on the small church pastors group.
Avoiding The Problem Of Two Half-Full Rooms
Despite the potential downsides, when our church added a second service over 15 years ago it was one of our best scheduling decisions, ever. Especially since it allows us to utilize our tiny facility to an even greater degree.
But we did it carefully. I had heard from other churches that taking an almost-full room and dividing into two less-than-half-full rooms was a psychological blow, so I told our congregation about this potential problem. Then I asked them to sign up, on a rotating basis, to attend both services at least once a month for the first six months.
Several said they'd be happy to attend both services for the entire six months to help us get over the hump, and to figure out for themselves which service worked better for their schedule.
In fact, I would say that if there’s not enough agreement among at least half your church members to want to help in this minimal way, it may be a sign that your church is more likely to be harmed than helped by adding a second service. Work on unity, first.
Almost two-thirds of our regular attenders signed up to attend both services – at least ocassionally. So, when we went to two services each one was well over half full.
This artificial bump helped a lot. By the end of six months, we hadn't grown enough to stand on our own yet, so we asked anyone who was willing to re-up for another six months. Not as many did, but we didn't need as many by then.
At the end of the year, we released everyone from their obligation and we’ve never looked back.
By anticipating the problem, informing the people of it, and asking for everyone’s help, the church came together in an even more united way.
We may have two services. But we’re one church.
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