At the annual business meeting on May 20th, I let the congregation know that the staff and Board have approved a plan to move to two services in September of this year. I wanted to write to let you know the reason for this decision, and let you know about opportunities you have for feedback as we make this change.
Over the past year, the attendance at Central has been growing, and we have seen more people connecting to God’s work in our midst. The steady growth in our Sunday morning services has brought us to the place that through the late fall into this spring, we have been running “functionally full” on Sunday mornings. “Functionally full” is the idea that a room isn’t full when every single seat is filled, but is full when the room feels full to people. “Functionally full” occurs when a room is between 70-80% full, which is the point when guests walk into a room and it is difficult to find a place to sit, creating a barrier to their connecting with the church. For us at Central, “functionally full” is when we are run in the 210-220 range of attendance. Through the past few months, we have been running consistently in this range on Sunday mornings. So what now? We have two options:
1) Stay with our current Sunday morning schedule, with one worship service. To do so, we would be making the decision to cap our church attendance at the current number of people. When the room is functionally full, our capacity hits a plateau, and adding more people to our church body becomes very difficult. The staff and Board do not wish to cap our capacity for people to be able to connect to what God is doing at Central.
2) Move to two services. Doing so enables more people to connect with God’s work in our midst. But how? The staff and Board considered two options for how to organize two services:
Option 1: A schedule consisting of:
The pros of this schedule is that is allows all Sunday Schools to meet together on the same hour, as we currently do, and give folks who like an early service to have that option. The main con of this option is that it requires much more volunteer help, and would be especially challenging for those volunteering in the worship service. The way that this model works best in other churches is to have two different worship styles and so two different sets of musical volunteers. In other words, this model would work only if we were to have a traditional service and a contemporary service. However, this is not a model that I, or the staff and Board, desire to implement.
So, if not that model, then what do we suggest?
Option B: In this model, the schedule would be:
In terms of Sunday School, each would choose the hour during which they will meet, and then be free to attend the worship service on the opposite hour. Youth and children will determine the best hour for a main meeting, while nursery will be available in both services.
The main pro of this model is that it minimizes the impact on our volunteers (though we are aware there will continue to be impacts), and enables us to continue to have worship services that aren’t segregated by style preference, but call the whole Body of Christ to worship together as an intergenerational, non-style-preference worshipping community.
I am aware that this change, while reflecting the exciting work of God that is going on in our Body, also brings with it many challenges and risks, and we want to receive your feedback over the next few weeks to enable any who wish to speak into this change the opportunity to do so. To that end, each of the staff members will be contacting the volunteers for whom they are responsible, and will be seeking input and feedback. Additionally, I will be available after church in the Board Room on Sunday June 3, 10, and 17 in order to hear your thoughts and answer any questions you might have. Please plan to join me for these informal feedback sessions. Our plan is that after we receive and consider congregational feedback, we will announce the final plan and implementation timing by July 1.