It’s that time again! On May 1st we will be adding yet another service time to our weekend schedule! This will allow us to offer a total of 5 worship services every Sunday in which our community may participate. At 8:00am, 9:45am, 11:30am, 1:15pm, & 6:00pm people from around Las Vegas will be gathering together to worship His name, study His Word, and fellowship with His people.
Just as many other evangelical churches across America, we have seen such numeric growth it is becoming increasingly difficult to contain all the believers and seekers in our current facility. Where in time past the answer was to build a larger facility, the trend for the past several decades has been to add multiple services times in order to facilitate the crowds. This innovative method has allowed the church in America to grow beyond its limitations and reach many more with the gospel of Christ.
If you are considering taking your church to the next level and adding another service to your weekly schedule there are a few things that you may want to consider:
Articulate the Need
You must answer the “why” question. This is for your followers, yes, but also for your own sanity. Let me explain. There are 2 main reasons to move add another service time. 1st – your current services are quickly becoming overcrowded. 2nd – you are attempting to reach a new demographic.
- Attempting to reach a New Demographic
The vast majority of people don’t work 9-5, Monday through Friday anymore. This is especially the case in places like Las Vegas. Therefore, we are attempting to reach a society that is has a high probability of working on Sunday morning at 10:00. The church in America attempted to combat this trend with the “Blue Laws” of the last century, but were not successful. So, the church has had to adapt its methodology to accomplish her mission. Multiple service times has allowed people who may work odd hours to still attend church. Just yesterday I was informed of a man who believed it impossible to attend Sunday worship since he worked until 12:00 noon every Sunday. He heard about our 1:15pm service and has committed to attend weekly after getting off work. I’ve been shocked how many people attend our 8:00am service and then go directly to work afterward. Likewise, I admire those who work all night Saturday evening, get off at 6:00am, and come to the 8:00am service before going to bed.
- Current Services are Overcrowded
Remember the 80% Rule! When a place is 80% full, it is perceived by visitors as 100% full! This is true in the auditorium (even though you can see of the 200 there are 12 empty seats). This is true in the nursery (even though you know they could stack a few more babies in there). This is true in the parking lot (even though people are willing to park in the dirt).  This is very difficult for a pastor or long-time church member to acknowledge. When the church service is “packed” we feel wonderful! Look at all the people sitting on one-another. Look at the bottle-necked traffic in the foyer. Look at the lines for the restrooms. Isn’t this wonderful! And it is wonderful to pastors, and deacons, and long-time Christians – but to the average seeker, it’s just annoying. People need their space and will purposely avoid a better restaurant, theater, market, or church if they feel inconvenienced by overcrowding.
It is a horrendous thought that lost people are driven away from the church of God simply because we were unable or unwilling to adapt to meet their needs.
Ask for Volunteers
In 2007 we grew to 200 in attendance and decided that we had to add a 2nd service if we were to continue to grow in our little facility. However, we didn’t want to begin advertising an 8:30am service that would be completely empty when visitors began to arrive. So, we asked our church to consider making the move. We asked for 50 volunteers to commit to the 8:30am service for a 6-month span. It worked. On the first Sunday we had 50 members and regular-attenders as well as several first-time guests. This allowed for extra room in the 11:00am service and plenty of room for growth in the earlier.
We did the same thing when we added our 3rd service and are currently doing the same thing now. This time around we have called it 115 at 1:15!
115 at 1:15
We are asking those who come to the 9:45am service and the 11:30am service to consider making the move for 6 months. We are praying that 30 people will choose to make the big leap from 9:45am to 1:15pm and that 85 people will choose to make the smaller leap from 11:30am to 1:15pm. In performing this sacrificial act these dear believers will be opening 115 seats for visitors who are most likely to come to church at the 9:45am & 11:30am times.
Many of our members are simply unable to make this change due to prior obligations, work schedules, and family issues. However, others have already committed to make this temporary shift because they desire to see the Gospel change even more people in the Las Vegas community.
Anticipate the Negatives
I’m an optimist by nature and don’t really like to focus on the negatives. However, in this case we must prepare so that we are not disillusioned.
- The Energy Level
There’s nothing more exciting than a full worship service! The singing seems louder, the prayer seems more fervent, and the preaching more powerful. Even the jokes seem funnier. Such is life. You and your church must anticipate the negative feelings of empty space. You may be going from an 80% full auditorium to a 50% full auditorium. The new service will likely be 30% full until it acclimates and people start preferring it above the others. This can become discouraging to the pastor and his people. Yet this doesn’t have to be the case. Focus upon the positives and press forward. Though it felt smaller in attendance you were actually up by 10% across the board. Share these truths with your congregation and celebrate the victories that God is accomplishing through their faith. Focus on facts not feeling and in the months to come you will see 2 or 3 or 4 services maxing out at 80% capacity.
- Dispersed Congregation
One of the greatest arguments against multiple services is that it creates multiple churches. The fear is that those who were able to see each other every week will lose the ability to do so. Sadly, this is a reality of adding services. It changes the church. What was once a small unit of believers transforms into several small units of believers. You will hear from your long-time members, “The church just doesn’t feel the same. I don’t know half the people in this church anymore.” These are difficult realities for some and it is the responsibility of the pastors and deacons to lovingly shepherd people through these difficult transitions. Sadly, some will be unable to see beyond the temporary inconvenience to the greater benefit of the ever-expanding kingdom of God. Yet others will embrace this change and open up their minds to the possibilities of revival like never before.
- Double the Volunteers
Did you have 4 nursery workers before? Now you will need 8! Did you have 12 ushers last Sunday? You will now need 24! This is a pain and a pleasure all at the same time. Though it takes much work to solicit, engage, and train these volunteers it also provides a wonderful avenue to move people from simple observer to active participant. The guy who’s been sitting in the back for the past six months will now need to stand up, put on an usher’s shirt, and pass the plate. This is good for him and for the church of God.
Experience the Growth
The last thing you must consider is the growth that WILL come due to this necessary step. Our church averages over 800 unique people in attendance every Sunday morning. When people visit our campus knowing this they find it difficult to believe. Our auditorium has just over 250 seats. Our church parking lot is the smallest one I’ve ever seen. Our hallways are 4.5 feet wide! Yet the church continues to grow quickly! This growth would have been impossible if we’d been unwilling to change some methodology to more effectively reach our community. You too can experience this growth if you are willing to take this vital step.
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