I’m just old enough to remember a day when having multiple services was not a popular idea in the church. Only out of necessity was a church willing to add a second service, while they figured out a plan to enlarge their facility. In the past, the popular strategy was to build a big enough building to have 1 service in 1 location, and as the church grew the buildings got bigger and bigger… and more expensive.
While there is no shortage of large church buildings, the general consensus now seems to be offering more, smaller services in more locations, and I’m a fan of that idea. A BIG fan. Currently, we have 4 services and are trying to add a 5th at our second location as soon as possible.
The more services you add, the better you get at the logistical challenges, but the emotional challenges of adding a service never really get easier. You’re always nervous about losing momentum, having enough volunteers, or preaching to an empty room. If you can ever gather the courage to take the leap, though, I believe adding a second service can be an effective strategy to move your church forward and give you momentum.
Let me give you 7 reasons why you should consider adding a 2nd service:
1. You Can Offer an “Attend 1 Serve 1 Opportunity”
When you prepare to launch a second service, there’s no doubt you will need to grow your volunteer base, but you might be surprised to find that more people are willing to volunteer if they have the option to attend service as well. With only 1 service, if someone serves in a kid’s class, they cannot participate in service. Their day is strictly an act of service. And in most cases those volunteers are serving more than once per month, so multiple times each month they are having to miss corporate worship.
Once you’re able to promote an “Attend 1 Serve 1” opportunity, more people will be open to the idea of serving. Don’t misunderstand. I’m not suggesting people will be lining up outside your office to serve, but I am suggesting that wanting to experience the worship service is one of the biggest deterrents for people wanting to serve.
So ironically, adding a service has the chance to grow your volunteer base, and increase volunteer morale. Go figure.
2. You’re Forced To Empower More People
Similarly to the “Attend 1 Serve 1 opportunity,” adding a second service forces the church leadership to empower more people. I know what you’re thinking. “ I would love to empower more people. I don’t need a second service to do that.” But actually, you do. Let me explain.
Certain people will not offer to serve unless they know they’re needed. Even if you’ve told them they’re needed, they’re paying attention and waiting until you HAVE to have to them. Before you’re too quick to complain about it, you’re probably the same way with your kid’s ball teams, school parties, or anything else outside of church that asks for your help. Most people are willing to get involved if they feel it is absolutely necessary, and by adding a second service you can say to them, “We’re adding a 2nd service, and we need you to help us.”
To be clear, I’m not saying you need to launch a new service simply so you can find more volunteers, I’m suggesting that when you do add a service, the necessity of volunteers will force you to be a more empowering leader.
Bonus Tip: Know your numbers before you start asking people to step up. Tell them, “we currently have 17 volunteers but to successfully launch a second service we need 30. Will you be 1 of the 30?”
3. You’re Forced To Develop Systems Not Dependent On One Person
Most small churches (define that however you want) are incredibly dependent on a handful of extremely talented and dependable people. In a congregation of 50-75 people, there are usually 2-3 people who carry the bulk of the responsibility. Thank God you have them, but the downside is that you are incredibly dependent on a few people.
By adding a second service, you are forced to begin to think in terms of systems instead of personalities. While technically it’s possible for those same people to double their responsibility, eventually, with more services you will have to develop a repetitive system out of necessity. The vast majority of churches are personality based not system based. The areas of ministry are effective as long as a particular person is in charge of them, but it rises and falls on the shoulders of one person. The more your church begins to multiply the more your leaders can’t be everywhere at once and must create repeatable systems that a trained volunteer can execute.
Bonus Tip: The book “E-myth revisited by Michaell Gerber” in an incredibly helpful book that will help you get your ministry teams and church structurally organized. It’s required reading for every new staff member at our church.
4. You Prioritize Progress Over Convenience
Adding an additional service is not merely a matter of solving logistical problems, it’s also an opportunity to cast vision and identify people who are unwilling to be inconvenienced for the sake of progress. You would think everyone in your church would want to grow and reach more people with the gospel, but unfortunately, not everyone does. It’s not always easy to know who is on board and who isn’t as long as no one is asked to sacrifice, but sacrifice is always the best indicator of commitment, and make no mistake, adding a service requires sacrifice.
There is no scenario where the church grows, and the leaders are not inconvenienced. You need to know that. Sometimes it’s easy to believe that progress will make things easier, but it doesn’t. Progress make things more complicated. The more children my wife and I had the less selfish I had to be. The same is true for the leaders in your church.
I’m not suggesting that every person who doesn’t love the idea of a second service is against you, they may just need to hear more vision communicated, but you might be surprised once you start courageously casting vision and moving forward who is excited and who is not.
5. It Challenges The “Small Church” Mindset Of “I Know Everybody”
The truth is, if you’re church has more than 100 attendees, then the people don’t know everybody, but they feel like they do. And for the record, there’s nothing wrong with that, until the preference of familiarity trumps the progress of the church.
Once you add a second service, it’s impossible for everyone in your church to recognize every face. Moving forward though, every new attendee who starts attending after you add a second service does not have the expectation of getting to know everyone, and that’s a great thing because now you have a chance to promote the need for small groups.
Many churches I know, including my own, have experienced increased small group participation as the number of services increase. It makes sense. In a 1 service church with a “small church” mindset, it’s the pastor’s job to connect me, but in a multi-service church, people assume it’s their responsibility to get connected. A second service eliminates the expectation that everyone needs to connect with everyone, and instead creates an expectation that everyone needs to connect with someone.
6. It Provides Options And People Like Options
The only people who really care if the sanctuary is completely full on a Sunday are preachers and singers. To be honest, most people would prefer it NOT be full. You would too if you weren’t a pastor.
Think about the last time you went to a restaurant. What time did you go? Probably when you like to eat dinner, right? Have you ever shown up to eat and found a place closed? It was frustrating, wasn’t it? Or what about the last time you went to the movies. Did they have multiple showings or just 1? I personally love to attend empty theaters for an afternoon movie by myself, but my wife likes the excitement and buzz of opening night.
When you only offer 1 service time, you are excluding everyone who can’t attend at that time. There are moms currently attending who think your service is too early for their family and other moms who think your service is too late for their family. I’m not suggesting we poll people and give them exactly what they want. The movie theater doesn’t ask you what time you want, they simply offer times, and you choose what works best for you, but there’s no denying people like options, and a church with options is appealing.
7. You Present The Perception Of A Growing Church
This is the least important benefit, but it is important. There are people in your community who are paying attention to your church trying to decide if they want to visit. They drive by the church each day going into work, or follow your facebook page, or talk to a friend who attends. When you become a multi-service church, you send the message that you are a growing church, or at least you are a church that is moving forward. Adding an additional service promotes progress. I’m not advocating adding an unnecessary service to give the impression you’re growing, but I am suggesting that as things trend upward adding a service helps validate the trends.