Back in September’s Newsletter, I solicited congregational feedback about what I termed, “one of the most important yet least significant aspects of going to church”—worship times. The response was pretty good, almost 80 interviews and emails & follow-ups to help chart out our worship future. Thank you to all who shared their thoughts and suggestions. Going over them, three points seemed to be most widely held:
- Having three services is not warranted for our church at this time.
- There is a felt need to connect with those who attend a different service.
- Families worshiping together is a value we should esteem.
To which a few other considerations became salient:
- No one wanted to purchase hymnals. Most liked our current blended style of worship.
- Don’t give up on the contemporary service!
- Don’t force the contemporary service!
- Our special music (choirs, bells, etc.) should be utilized as much as possible.
- Announcements need to be done differently.
Although people’s desired worship times varied, most agreed that our summer schedule of two services at 9 and 11 was “okay.” So, here’s what I’ve come up with, beginning January 2019:
9:00 – Blended Worship [pretty much same as now at 8:30 & 10:00]
10:15-10:50 – “Connection Time” [Sunday School/Bible study/fellowship/meetings]
11:00 – Contemporary Worship [Call to Worship / “Joining Jesus” moment / medley / confession / sermon / prayers]
We will keep things pretty much the same as they have been for the 9am service and go with a more free-flowing contemporary service at 11. We’d have to tweak things a bit with Sunday School to adjust to a shorter time frame (35 minutes), but if our emphasis is on families being together in worship, that should be okay. There’s the potential to offer a brief adult Bible study class of some sort during this “Connection Time;” but also to use it for fellowship opportunities, meetings, rehearsals, and small groups. Without the time crush of three services, we can celebrate Holy Communion every week. And we are expecting choir, bells, and soloists to share their talents during the 9am service, and also as a call to worship at 11am before a brief time to explore where Christ is active in our community.
Is everyone going to like it? No. It will mean changes, and, as Mark Twain quipped, nobody in the world likes change except a baby with a wet diaper! However, I can see change as a resource, drawing us together, forcing us to wrestle with what is truly important in our following Jesus—together. We will no doubt have to make some adjustments, do a little fine-tuning in the months ahead, and reappraise it all at year’s end. And I’ll grant, it will be rough at first. But like Windows 10, your new smart phone, that roundabout built where a four-way stop used to be, or like when I reversed the hot and cold water taps in our bathroom—we will adjust…even to the point where we’ve gotten so used to the new normal, we’ll be resistant if it gets altered! So, I’m setting as a theme for the year ahead: “To Inconvenience and Beyond!” When Jesus tells us to “take up a cross and follow me,” there is a good chance we might get a splinter. I propose will lift up those splinters and “Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good!” in worshipful praise. No matter when, how, and with whom we do so.