> Why are we going to 3 services?
New Chapel is a growing church! The first quarter of 2023,
we finished a project to move our stage back to provide for more seating space
in the auditorium. We bought additional seats, stacked reserves, and tightened spacing
between rows. This helped greatly – and still, we have had to bring chairs out
almost every week (including during summer months).
Ideally, churches similar to New Chapel add services when their room is more than 70-80% full. The minimum 20% open seating provides “flex space” for families and seating opportunities for visitors. Currently, we exceed 90% capacity weekly. From Summer 2022 to Summer 2023, New Chapel has grown by 41.3%. There have been 117 salvations since the new year (37 in just the past 6 weeks). There have been over 50 baptisms this year alone!
During growth seasons (like back-to-school, first of the year, Spring/Easter) we’re experiencing high numbers of visitors and regular attendees at the same time. Often, we’ll have “peak weekends” followed by relatively deflated weeks. This trend is caused when we exceed the “80/20 Rule” (80% full, 20% flex space) in our service options. Attendance can become tedious when we’re too full: Finding parking, checking kids in, getting coffee, using the washroom, finding a seat, and exiting can become more challenging when there’s not enough room. This is especially exposed when our neighbor has a big show on a Sunday.
We’re experiencing “glass ceilings” for growth in our auditorium, kid’s corridors, and common areas. We had 540 people at our 2023 Easter services. Easter attendance is an indicator of where the church is trending. From our study, if we don’t add room, we will fully cap by October 2023. We cannot allow this to happen. When there is no room for people to engage, our mission fails.
We need space.
The speediest and most affordable way to give more space
is by adding another service.
New Chapel has prided herself on being a church who is agile when faced with obstacles. During the shutdowns, we pivoted to “Drive-In Church” and opened our doors swiftly to serve God’s people. Adding a third service builds on this legacy. God has guided us to three services to have space to take in the blessing He’s bringing to our church. Changing to our new times (8:30a, 10a, and 11:30a) only moves our current services by 30 minutes. It’s an “equal opportunity change” – meaning: Everyone has to choose a new service time.
> Is having three services a sustainable idea?
Simply: Yes. Believe it or not, there was a time where the thought of having two identical church services on a Sunday morning was incomprehensible for most evangelical churches. Today: It's commonplace. Multiple service options give our church family more opportunities to attend in a more sustainable way.
Is this a big step for the “GoTeam?” Initially: Yes. New Chapel has worked to foster a “worship one, serve one” culture. When we first launch three services, there will be a sacrifice for some leaders; however, (while staff, Interns, the worship team, and a hand full of others will serve at all three services) most will still only be scheduled to serve at one of the three services.
The good news: Our church has everyone we need to serve at all three services! The other news: Not all have yet signed up to serve on the GoTeam. This reveals a significant point: We believe the growth that demands a third service will also provide the teams to sustain it.
While we do need a small part of our teams to volunteer as “missionaries” to “serve two, and worship one,” we believe this will phase out by January 2024.
In Matthew 9:37-38, Jesus said, “The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.” Launching three services presents initial sacrifice with a significant harvest opportunity. Let’s grow our team!
> Are there any other options?
Short answer: “Yes.” Long answer: “Yes,” with a “but” attached to it.
We polled the church about service options. The results were almost equal amounts of:
A. Three Sunday Services
B. Adding a Saturday Service, and
C. People writing in, “Let’s buy a bigger building!”
Honestly: We like all three ideas. There are options! They come with variables.
…About “Saturday Church Services.”
If three Sunday services seems like too much of a challenge at this point, the idea of launching a Saturday service is definitely too early. We’re fond of Saturday service options. They work in western Michigan. However, we need to grow our church and GoTeam to the spot where we can produce a service on another day. Adding a third service will take New Chapel past 500 in weekend attendance when at capacity. The GoTeam of a church of 500 can support two Saturday and two Sunday service options (ideal for a church who believes in a “worship one, serve one” culture). Three Sunday services is the quickest way to a Saturday service option.
…About buying a bigger building.
Agreed! Many at New Chapel are believing God for wonderful possibilities in the near future. At the same time, having been a “mobile church” (set up and tear down in rented spaces) for the first 4 years of our existence, New Chapel learned the lesson: The church is not a building; The church is a people. While we’re pursuing every good thing God has for us, we can’t stop the blessing of growth while waiting for another building to solve our problems.
We want to grow our church family to be able to abide in our next church home/building. Like many young families, often new kids come before the house with ample space does. If your heart is drawn toward the idea of New Chapel having a new building: Give! It’s not about the money – and it’s not without the money. Outside of unexpected large gifts, the only way to be able to purchase/build another church space is by growing numerically and in our generosity.
> What’s the goal? …just have a “big church?”
Nope. At New Chapel, we’ve worked to build a “big people.” Big people, incidentally, grow into a big church family. The leadership of New Chapel does not need more people, bigger services, or bigger rooms to be satisfied. We love our church family. We find our satisfaction in God. Still: there’s no need to make the discernment between discipleship and evangelism (in fact, you can’t have real discipleship without vibrant evangelism).
So: We’re compelled to share the freedom God has given to us with others. What type of growth will three services lend? If three services are attended in-kind with our current ratios, we predict we’ll grow to a church of 500+ people on any given weekend by first quarter 2024, with a team that will have expanded by 30% (involvement drives engagement).
> How long will New Chapel be at three services?
As long as the Lord needs us to be at three services. We could add a fourth service (split between Saturday and Sunday), or move into a facility that accommodates our church/church growth with two services. STILL: Adding additional services will always be in our future.
Being responsive to the call and blessing of God is the
This “agility” in leadership allows us to flex to three services, and down to two services if needed. While we love thinking “out of the box” (future facilities) – launching three services is thinking “in the box” (like: What can we do within our current circumstances to receive all God has for us?).
> Let’s take the hill!
In the Old Testament, there is a story of a woman who received miraculous provision from God. God provided oil for her to sell. God told her to collect vessels to be filled with oil. …Even to borrow jars if necessary! The blessing of God came from one jar of oil and filled multiple jars thereafter. As many empty jars as she presented were filled (miraculously) by oil for her to sell. When there were no additional jars to fill, the blessing stopped. God does not waste a drop of His blessing. In kind, New Chapel: We’re all out of jars for the Lord to fill. We could stop adding “jar” opportunities (like seats & services), but we’ll shut off the blessing of God! I don't want to stop the blessing of God on New Chapel just because this new prospect comes with challenge!
We hear stories of life-change happening during weekend services all the time. Jesus is moving in His church! This happens because so many of you already sacrifice, give, and leverage your talents, giftings, and abilities to create space to make a difference for others. Thank you. Truly. Let’s lean into this next season of growth at New Chapel as we add our third service!
I love being your pastor! As you go ____________!