Friday, June 16, 2006

How Many Churches are in Your Church?

I would love to get other peoples take on this subject, if you are so inclined to comment. I am noticing that more and more churches are becoming self dividing. First let me explain what I mean by that, in order to please the congregation churches are splitting services in many various ways. The most notable way is specialized music services, some churches having as many as three or four services on Sunday segmented by music styles - Hymns, Contemporary, Country etc. The other way which has been around for a long time is multiple services and again some churches running four or five services on a Sunday.

My questions are; is it healthy to purposefully divide our churches and congregations and create all these mini churches within one church? Are we in danger of creating schizms by doing this and is the outcome worth it? And does this not cater to the "special interest groups" in the church?

Let me be clear though, I am not saying any of the above is unbiblical.

My personal preference has always been toward smaller churches, I like being able to know and fellowship with the whole body at once. And complaints you hear a lot from people who have left churches that operate this way is that they have been going there for years and never really knew anybody. I do know some of the oweness is on them for not getting involved and seeking fellowship and so forth. But, can this way of operating make it easier for people to slip through the cracks. I understand due to work schedules some people need more than one service, but should it become the norm?

For what it is worth below is an excerpt from Dr. Charles Arn (a church growth "expert") and his take on why everyone should have multiple services.

I have become convinced that approximately half of the 325,000 churches in America could--and should--consider starting a new service in the next 24 months; regardless of the number of services they now have! From our experience, 80% of these churches would see growth. My book How to Start a New Service describes seven reasons why churches would do well to consider doing this.

• New services reach the unchurched better than established services. Starting a new-style service refocuses a church on a target audience it is not presently reaching.
• New services minister to more people. Churches that offer one service at one time of day on one day of the week are offering one choice: take it or leave it. The more choices people have, the more people will say "yes" to one of them.
• New services reach new kinds of people. Churches that try to accommodate the interests, needs, and tastes of more than one target group with just one service usually reduce their attendance rather than increase it.
• New services help a church break out of its life cycle. The secret to new growth in a declining church is to start a new life cycle. A new service is one of the best ways to do this.
• New services allow for change while retaining the familiar. Starting a new service while retaining the old is a far easier change to accept than radically changing the one.
• New services activate inactive members. A new-style service often increases regular worship attendance of members by 20% or more.
• New services help denominations grow. Most researchers agree that starting new churches is the most important strategy for denominational growth, but starting new services--in existing churches--is the second most important strategy.

So which comes first, the chicken or the egg--the new service or church growth? The answer lies in the fact that growing churches act like the church they want to become. If a church passively waits for the kind of people it desires before starting a new service, it will wait a long time. The church that begins a new service in order to reach the kind of people it desires will usually end up growing as a result.

1 comment:

Pastor Ryan said...

My preference is one service. I am a tradionalist, but open to some contemporary praise music. I don't think it is harmful for a church to have more than one service, if that is what the pastor feels God is placing on his heart to do.

I will say that the expository message should remain the same in whatever type of service held. The messages from the preacher are usually more seeker sensitive and feel good in more contemporary services. That is what I have a big problem with, not the number of services a church may have.