Saturday week ago, our REAL Journal Bible reading was Psalm 127. When I read and reflected on it that day, I was reminded afresh that “unless the LORD builds the house, the builders labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the guards stand watch in vain.”
This was a timely reminder as we pray and plan to add a new English service at CSAC. When I announced this a few weeks ago, we also took a short survey to gauge initial interest and response to this new venture. Since then, we’ve had a total of 56 responses, with 71% of respondents in favour of a 5pm service, and 27 people expressing interest in being part of the core team or who would like to find out more. I want to thank you for taking the time to respond, and also for your desire to be part of the conversation as we continue to entrust all our plans to our good and gracious God. You may still fill out the survey at www.surveymonkey.com/r/JGM658C
I know that when there are potential changes in our church, it can cause us to feel uneasy due to the uncertainties that lay ahead. It’s only natural for us to ask questions and contemplate how the potential changes may affect us and our fellowship. Accordingly, we will be holding an information session in the coming weeks to continue these conversations as we work towards forming a core team for the new service. Even though we plan towards launching in February 2019, like all plans, we will only go ahead if we truly believe this is God’s will for us at this time.
But in the meantime, here’s some answers to some of the questions you may have.
Why are we planning for a new service?
According to research on church growth, a church feels “full” when it reaches 80% of its building capacity.Our church building can fit a maximum of 220 chairs if we fill the church all the way to the back and out into the “wings”, with little room to move. This means that the perceived “capacity” of our church is 220 x 80% = 176.
Over the past couple of months, we have had an average attendance of 169 people, and over the last 4 weeks, we have had an average attendance of 174 people. A few weeks ago, we even had 21 adults and babies squeezed into the foyer. When you couple this with other research on church growth that shows that as a congregation approaches the magic number 200 it will plateau or struggle to grow, our 10am Service is reaching perceived capacity. This makes it more difficult for us to get to know and love one another, as well as be able to welcome visitors well.In fact, you may have noticed this yourself, the struggle to recall if certain people were missing or whether there were any visitors to welcome.
The fact that our 10am Service is reaching capacity is a wonderful problem to have. Accordingly, the Pastoral Leadership Team, in consultation with the Parish Council, have been praying over the past couple of months about the possibility of starting a new English Service.
What will a new service mean for us?
God willing, adding a new service will present many wonderful opportunities for all of us. Here are 5 examples:
- It will help us love each other better. It will be easier for us to get to know and love one another.
- It will help us welcome visitors better. It will be easier to look out for visitors and welcome them
- It will help us better serve our church. Another English Service will mean that our Kids Church leaders won’t have to miss out on being part of a service. It also gives people flexibility if they should miss the service that they ordinarily attend.
- It will help us continue to grow as a training church. Planting a new service will give us experience as we look at planting a church off-site in the years ahead.
- It is in line with our vision and mission as we seek to make, mature and mobilise disciples of Jesus Christ from every nation.
Starting a new service will bring change for everyone and sacrifices for some. It may mean seeing some of our friends less frequently. However, we want to make such sacrifices for the sake of the gospel. So, let’s look forward to welcoming more visitors and making new disciples of Jesus as we preach the gospel, love one another, and God willing, grow in maturity and in numbers.
When will this new service be launched?
One of the reasons we have engaged you at this early stage is so that we can make some important decisions with your input, and give you time to prayerfully consider your part in this new stage of the life of our church. As we’re still in the early stages of praying and planning, we are considering this new service from February next year. This will give us the time we need to gather a core team to plan for the new service well.
Who will this new service be for?
Like all our services, everyone from every demographic is welcome. The new service will follow the same sermon series as our 10am Service and be involved in all aspects of the life of the church. However, we are not currently planning to provide a kid’s program outside of the 10am English service and 2pm French Service. This is because of the labour-intensive nature of kid’s ministry, and whether it would be sustainable for us at this time. However, things may change down the track, at which point we will reconsider our options.
Do we have the “human” capacity for this new venture?
Starting a new service is a step of faith, but it’s also a considered step. I will be heading up this new service with the other pastoral staff involved as much as possible for their training. As a training church, we have been working hard to provide training in areas of character, conviction and competency. We do this through various activities of the church, including the REAL Leadership program, Discipleship Teams and our upcoming REAL Training course. We have also seen more people equipped to serve on Sundays as Discipleship Teams take responsibility for the running of our services. Accordingly, this new venture is not going to be a small group of people trying to start a new service. Rather, it will be the entire church coming together to launch a new service with existing infrastructure already in place.
As we continue to pray and plan together, let’s entrust all we do to God as we conduct ourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, standing firm in the one Spirit, striving together as one for the faith of the gospel (Phil 1:27).
 See key insights from Greg Atkinson’s book “Secrets of a Secret Shopper” by Thom Rainer on his website: https://thomrainer.com/2017/03/five-fascinating-lessons-secret-guest-church-worship-services/
Ed Stetzer even has a course to help pastors break through the 200 mark. See https://edstetzer.com/mission-group/