Over the past few months, one of the most common questions I’ve been asked is, “How’s that 4th service going?” In January of this year, we changed our Sunday morning service schedule from 2 services at 9 and 10:45am, to 3 services at 8:45, 10, and 11:30am (our Saturday night service at 6pm remained the same).
The first thing I would say is, “It’s going well.” That’s based on how our staff and volunteers have been able to adjust and the basic “mechanics” behind 3 Sunday services. Our very first week was rough because the transition between the 8:45 and 10:00 service was chaotic. We made some adjustments, however, and things have been pretty smooth since then. We’ve streamlined some aspects of the service (Spotlight/MPTV) and, honestly, I preach about 5 minutes shorter than I used to (that’s not a bad thing, it actually makes me work even harder on the weekend message which benefits you) and if you attend the 8:45 service, you sing or hear 1 less song than the other services. If that troubles anyone, the good thing is we have 3 other service options that offers all the songs (and some people actually prefer less music). But the thing I want to stress the most is, ABSOLUTELY NOTHING about our commitment to create compelling weekend services has changed.
The motivation behind this switch was basically two things. First, we wanted to address a capacity problem that we face during certain times of the year. Our weekend attendance is not nearly as consistent from week-to-week as I would like it to be (drives me crazy – keeps me awake at night), and there are certain times of the year, January – March for example, when we have larger crowds. That changes a little following Spring Break, then picks up again when school starts. And it’s not just capacity in the Worship Center, our biggest capacity issue is parking (an issue no matter what we do). We have room in the CLC/SMC lot, but most folks don’t want to park and walk across the street (I totally understand). The second motivation, and I said and wrote this multiple times, was a step of faith for the future. I also said, that step of faith was dependent upon our people becoming more faithful in their attendance and inviting family, friends, neighbors, etc. to church. During the first few months of 2017 attendance was up like it typically is, and our weekend attendance was higher than at the same time the previous year. Now we find ourselves in that time of year when people are not as consistent. But we have solved our parking problem and I have been surprised to discover how many people like the option of coming to church at 11:30 (although I notice the 11:30 number going down a little now that summer is here).
I’m not going to lie, preaching 3 times on Sunday morning absolutely wears me out. I’m sure our Worship & Arts folks, Children’s/Middle School ministry staff feel the same way. I’m always disappointed when we come to this time of year and our attendance drops. It begins with 2 weeks of Spring Break and continues from there. May is difficult because there are activities all month associated with The Race. There are proms, graduations, open houses and oftentimes church gets left out of the mix on those weekends. June and July brings a small window of about 6 to 8 weeks where people have the chance to go on vacation before school starts again, and it just goes on and on. But I don’t want to make excuses, I want to see Mount Pleasant continue to reach people for Christ. And what I know for sure today, is we have room for more. For that reason alone, I’m glad we added a 4th service.
So let me just encourage you to be faithful in worship each weekend. Honestly, it surprises me how big an issue this has become. This past weekend I thought, “We’ll have a great weekend attendance because of all the kids/adults headed to church camp. But I was wrong. We had a lot of folks head to camp Sunday afternoon, many just didn’t go to church Saturday night or Sunday morning.
So my heartfelt encouragement is, make worship a priority. It’s 1 hour and 5 minutes a week to learn about/be reminded of who God is and who we need to be, it’s a tangible witness that God has first place in your life/family, it teaches your children how to order their lives and on and on. I also want to encourage you to invite someone to church. I am actively working on the development of a new evangelism initiative that I believe will make a huge IMPACT on our church, but there will never be a substitute for simply inviting someone to church. You can pick up “Invitation Cards” anytime, outside the Worship Center doors or at the Guest Connections Room.
Our vision at Mount Pleasant is to be a church that is locally focused and globally engaged with an undeniable IMPACT for Christ. Our mission is to change the world (for Christ) one life, one family, one opportunity at a time. One of the ways we do this is through compelling weekend services. We do that really well, and we’ve got plenty of room (for now).