Question: When should churches add another service?
Answer: When the pews are full.
At least according to Tim Stevens and Tony Morgan of Granger Community Church in Granger, Ind. In their Rev magazine article (adapted from their book Simply Strategic Growth) they argue for a number of ideas for drawing crowds to your church (which I’ve already summarized), and one of them is adding multiple services regardless of how full your church is.
Let’s take a look at why…
- Multiple services give churchgoers a choice. More choices means it’s more likely your church will fit into their schedule. Not everybody works 9-5, Monday-Friday. Some people work Sunday mornings (gasp).
- Multiple services means more opportunities to serve. If you have more opportunities and more needs, you’re likely to get more volunteers. That’s their logic anyway. Frankly, I think this is positive spin on a bigger issue: Multiple services are more work.
- Multiple services let you be creative. God forbid anyone should mess with the Sunday morning service. But there’s more freedom to experiment with an extra service and try out something new.
- Multiple services maximize space. What good is empty space on Saturday night? You get the most bang for your space if you use it more than just Sunday morning.
- Multiple services create unity. Well, not really, but let me explain. 800 people in one worship service aren’t getting to know each other, so why insist on having your entire church meet together? Instead realize that church unity happens when members get to know one another on a deeper level, often through small groups, sports, classes, fellowship groups, etc. Multiple services force you to be intentional about creating unity in your church outside of the main services, instead of relying on that main service to do it (which it probably isn’t).
Of course the downsides aren’t really mentioned. More services are more work. They may eventually pay off when more members equal more volunteers, and more offerings equal more budget—but that’s a pay off churches might not see right away. Multiple services also increase the importance of having all the right infrastructure in place, from staffing to branding to communication—it’s more an obstacle than a downside, but not every church is prepared to offer more services.
But I still love this idea because there’s less emphasis on filling every last pew. Forget about whether or not we’ve reached building capacity, throw open the church doors and let the people come.
- Learn more about how to welcome church visitors with this massive collection of resources and blog posts.
- Walking into a church for the first time can be scary. Check out Unwelcome: 50 Ways Churches Drive Away First-Time Visitors by Jonathan Malm for practical ideas and perspective on first-time guests.