I know I’ve mentioned our early worship service a few times. It’s really been going well. The students who are leading worship with the Praise Team are really enjoying the time they put into it for practice and the Sunday mornings as well. And the attendance has been growing as well. The past three Sundays we’ve had 87, 76, and 85. The 76 was on Fourth of July weekend too. And I know it’s not all about numbers, but the increase in the people coming is telling us something.
I think this is the fourth summer in a row that we’ve had an early morning worship service. It’s been for summers only though. When school starts back and everything else seems to get back in the flow, then we’ve always reverted back to just one main (traditional) service. The previous three summers we’ve probably averaged in the mid 30’s in attendance. I think that most of those coming came out of matter of convenience. The service was basically a scaled down version of the normal eleven o’clock service, still in the sanctuary with not a lot of changes. The people could come to church, then Sunday School (if they chose), and then go to the golf course, to lunch, the river/lake, or wherever else and beat the crowds.
Sure, some of the people coming to early worship this summer may be coming for those reasons, but something else has to account for the increases in attendance. We’re meeting in a different building, in a smaller room, with different music, with no traditional readings (well, the Bible is pretty traditional, and we still read it every time!), no creeds, no affirmations, no organ music, no hymnals. We have the praise team made up mostly of teens, and a less formal setting that we’re hoping is inviting to those who attend.
I sense an opposition coming when August gets here. There are going to be some people within our church who want it to go back to the way it was before. Only one service. They are missing seeing some of the people who are going to the early contemporary service. I don’t think that is a valid reason to stop the other service, but I can see part of the point there…I don’t want to see a church membership split along the lines of the two services.
But what do you do. When you’ve got that many people attending and really seeming to like it…why stop it? Even our pastor said this morning (and he’s said it before), “People seem to smile a little more in this service!” And this morning we had 109. There really wasn’t room for everyone, but we packed them in. We’re meeting in a small lounge that is about out of space. We can move into the gym, use partitions to block off some space, and have to fight the acoustics there…but I think that is our next move. You don’t want people not coming because of the cramped quarters.