Monday, December 7, 2015

Why Plant a Second Sunday Morning Worship Service at Grace Baptist Church?

Last night we had a great special called business meeting.  After four months of sharing a vision for a new worship service that will reach a new kind of people, Grace Baptist voted 86% in favor of beginning the new ministry of a second Sunday Morning Service.  Here are the reasons why we voted to start this ministry.

1.  A New Service Will Reach The Unchurched.

Of all the reasons to begin a new service, this should be the most compelling. Christ’s passion for reaching lost humanity is stated frequently and emphatically throughout Scripture:
  • “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save the lost.” -Luke 19:10 
  • “For God did not send His Son into the world that He might condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.” -John 3:17
  • “just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life—a ransom for many.” -Matthew 20:28
  • “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” -John 10:10
2.   A New Service Will Minister to More People.

Research shows that 80% of the congregations that move from one worship experience to two find their overall attendance increases by at least 10% in two years time.  One way it does this is through increasing the visitor flow into the church on Sunday Morning.  The National Visitor Retention Rate is between 8% to 12% a year for local churches.   That means that churches see 8 to 12 percent of their first-time visitors become active members in the following year.  It is shocking to see that:
  • In the past decade, the US population has increased by 9% while church attendance has declined by 9.5%.
  • No State in the US has had a church that has kept up with population growth.
  • Not a single county can report that more people attend church now than they did ten years ago.
3.  A New Service Will Reach New Kinds of People.

A new style service will not only help us reach more non-Christians (reason 1) and help us minister to more total number of people (reason 2) it will help us reach different kinds of people than we are presently reaching. James White correctly points out, “The simple truth is that worship cannot be culturally neutral.” No single service can be all things to all people. Consequently, it is most important to ask, “Who finds our present services attractive?” The most common age of a member at Grace Baptist Church is 59 years old. Given this number, our present services resinates clearly with the 50 years and older crowd, which is not a bad thing. All people need Jesus and that does not change with any age. This is not about getting rid of our current net, but instead it is about widening our current net in Elizabethton. Let it be noted that we have seen growth in our current service; therefore, let us not do away with what appears to be reaching people. More statistics:
•In 1972, Southern Baptist baptized 140,000 teenagers, and in 2008, we baptized 75,000 teenagers.
•The number of people who claim no religious affiliation has doubled since 1990, Non-believers represent the third highest group of Americans after Catholic and Baptist.
•1 in 5 have no religious affiliation.
•Nearly one fourth of those in their twenties profess no organized religion. It is not that they are uninterested in spiritual things, they are not necessarily atheist.

4.  A New Service Will Help Break the Normal Life Cycle of the Church.

The life cycle of a church is both normal and predictable. Like gravity, it is a law that simply exists. Grace Baptist is no exception to the rule. The life cycle describes a local church’s infancy, maturity, and death.

 The sobering fact is that at least 80 percent of churches in America today are on the flat or back side of their life cycles. As shown in Table 1.2, Grace is currently in a plateau, if we do noting our direction will change to decline before we realize.

Grace Baptist Church lies at a crossroad in her lifecycle. Perhaps Grace is at a very dangerous point in her life, because of the church attendance remaining in a plateaued pattern. Mr. McIntosh points out from his book There’s Hope for Your Church that, “A Plateau is much like hypertension, which is called the silent killer by medical professionals.”

•Only about 2% of a church body is likely to invite an unchurched person to church, this is normative for churches in the US.
•More than 80% of the unchurched say they would attend if someone sincerely invited them.
•Of young adults (20-29), 63% say they would attend church if it presented the truth in an understandable way that relates to their lives.

5.   A New Service Allows for Change While Retaining the Familiar.

If we adopt this strategy, we will double our outreach and ministry potential, provide opportunities for more members to have a role task in ministry, and see new kinds of people begin attending. Members will be far more likely to tolerate change around them if their own comfortable world is not disturbed. Change through addition will be more successful than change though substitution.

6.  A New Service Will Activate Inactive Members.

In the typical American church, approximately 40 percent of the membership attend a service on any given Sunday. Reasons for inactivity among church members may vary. But regardless of the cause, the people who stay away are nonverbally saying that the cost of attending (in time and/or comfort) is not worth the benefit (in spiritual growth and/or fellowship) . It is not uncommon, however to see a new service boost the member attendance percentage from the 40 percent range to 60 percent or more. In other words, some of the most likely to begin attending our new service will be our inactive members. We currently have over 600 members on record and last year turned in an average Sunday Morning attendance of 211. We have just under 40 percent attenders coming to our current service.

7.  A New Service Will Empower More Church Members to Use Their Gifts and Passions Weekly.

God has gifted the church with individual members who have differing passions and callings to serve the local church. This is demonstrated in Paul’s teachings in the following passages:
  • “According to the grace given to us, we have different gifts…” -Romans 12:6 
  • “For as the body is one and has many parts, and all the parts of that body, though many, are one body--so also is Christ.” -1 Corinthians 12:12 
Ask yourself this simple question, “What would we do if God sent us 50 new believers in Sunday School and Worship? Where would they or could they serve the church? Or if we were sent 100 or 150?” Where would these new people serve the church? How would we plug them into the body in a meaningful manner? Are we willing to allow our people to serve according to their passions and gifting, instead of filling in names on a sheet? We want our people to serve according to their gifting and passions, not just fill in a a blank on an elected position sheet. If we do not properly challenge and provide areas of service for church members, these members will go somewhere where they can serve the Lord according to their passions and gifting on a weekly basis.

8.  A New Service Will Help The Southern Baptist Convention Survive.

The Lord has used the SBC for many years to be a great help in my life.  It was in an SBC church I heard the gospel for the first time, received my call to ministry, and was education.  I feel a debt to the convention to do all I can to ensure her survival if the Lord wills it!  There is little question among church growth scholars that planting new churches is the single most important activity for assuring the future of a denomination. But it is not as commonly known that widespread creation of new services among existing churches is the second most important strategy. When a large number of churches in a denotation are staring a new service to reach a new target audience, they are in effect accomplishing the goals of, and realizing many of the benefits inherent in, planting a new church.

•90% of SBC churches are either declining in number or losing ground per population growth.
•400,000 SBC churches in the US, and 360,000 are losing ground.
•SBC membership has declined for five years in a row.
•10 million SBC members are absent on Sunday Morning; 6 million attending each week.

9.  To Fulfill Our Church's Mission Statement, "To Know Christ and To Make Him Known."

Our mission statement is the essence of the Kingdom.  As John the Baptist said, "May Jesus increase and may I decrease."  

Closing thought:

“So, which comes first, the chicken or the egg? Does a new service cause church growth…or does church growth require a new service? Here’s the answer: Growing churches act like the church they want to become. If you wait for the new people to begin attending, and then start your new service…you will be waiting a long time. If you begin a new service in order to reach new people… you will be much more successful.”  -Charles Arn

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