One of the big questions we are asked all the time in our coaching is:
We’re thinking about going to two services—what do you recommend?
Let me start by saying: I love a multi-service reality when it’s done at the right time, for the right reasons and in the right way. Unfortunately, too many churches make the move without the proper forethought or preparation and end up getting less than ideal or desired results.
Here are several thoughts to make the change:
1. Moving from one service to two services is a major cultural shift for your people and is going to make people nervous.
What we have discovered is that anytime, ANY TIME, a church makes a major cultural shift, it breaks trust with attendees to some degree. It’s not bad; it just is a reality that leaders must not be naïve about.
Here’s how we teach it to pastors: Anytime you make a major cultural shift in your church (add a service, move facilities, etc.), you effectively “spook the sheep.” People get uneasy and are less likely to invite their unsaved, unchurched or dechurched friends. Unconsciously, they’re thinking, “Is this safe?” “Is it going to be the same?” “Is it going to be too big?” etc.
In our experience, it takes between four and six months to regain that trust and for attendance and giving to rebound. We call it “the six-month tail.” Don’t let it throw you if you don’t “double overnight.” You’ll grow, just probably not as quickly as you think you will.
2. The Attend One/Serve One reality Is huge!
One of the greatest advantages to going to a multi-service reality is the Attend One/Serve One culture it can create.
However, this culture is not automatic. Leaders, you have to be intentional to help volunteers and team members understand how it works. The result is it will actually allow more people to serve more consistently and have a greater impact, all the while not missing the main service.
For example, instead of someone serving once a month in the kids’ ministry, they can actually serve every week and still be in service. Relationships to the kids are greater, ministry is greater, connection to the vision is greater! Everybody wins!
3. More people who call your church their church will be able to attend in a weekend.
Another great advantage of a multi-service reality is more of the people who call your church their home will attend on a weekend. For example, if you only have one service and a family in your church is scheduled to have lunch at Grandma’s house, they’ll probably just end up skipping church that week. But if you have an earlier service, they can attend that one and still make it to Grandma’s by noon.
Here are some practicals we recommend for any church going to two services.
1. Create a Bonus Room.
This will be a big benefit for parents and kids in the Attend One/Serve One culture you’re trying to create. This room is for kids whose parents are attending one and serving in one. No matter how great your kids’ ministry is, kids don’t want to go to it twice! If you create a room with some video games and cool stuff where they can hang out, that is reserved ONLY for kids whose parents serve, they’ll love it!
Manning it is easy as well, since you only need it in one service. You just need a fun-loving volunteer who’s willing to hang out with kids! DON’T over-spiritualize this! You’ll end up ruining it for the kids, and the parents will stop serving, thus sabotaging your Attend One/Serve One culture you’re working so hard to create.
2. Move your service time; don’t just add a service time.
A cataclysmic mistake a lot of pastors make is thinking they should or can just “add” a service time rather than making everyone move. For example, if you have one service at 11 a.m., just add a 9 a.m. This is a big mistake because you’re asking everyone to move from what they’re already in routine and used to doing. This does not go well.
Instead, if your one service is at 10:30 a.m., go to 9:30 and 11:15 a.m. or 9 and 11 a.m. And if your service is at 11 a.m., I would still move it, even if it’s just 15 minutes. Make everyone change! Trust me, it’s better.
Side note: From our experience, 9:30 is better than 9, and people don’t fear the noon hour like we might think. Two different times—once in the movie theater days and once in the high school—we went from one service to two and did 9 and 10:45 a.m. We never seemed to be able to get the attendance to even out. They were always a 35/65 split and, at best, 40/60.
Then, in the high school, we finally switched to 9:30 and 11:15 a.m., and it was crazy how they went to 50/50. We marveled at how a 30-minute shift made that big of a difference.
3. Launch with a big “felt needs” series. Pull out all the stops, and get your people excited to buzz it.
Put two invitation cards in the bulletin two weeks before to make it as easy as possible for people to invite their friends to the launch weekend. Post on Facebook, Twitter, etc. Give your people every possible way you can to buzz about it and invite their friends!
4. Cast vision around it.
“At NLC, we’re all about creating space for more lost people to experience God each weekend just like we do.” We use this phrase often: “Every Sunday is somebody’s THAT day.” In other words, every weekend, someone is walking into our church giving God one last shot. This is their THAT day. We want to create space for them to experience God.
5. Use the 70 percent (movie theater-full) idea to appeal to logic.
When you go to a movie, you want the theater to be full, but not too full. Most of us like having an empty seat between us and people we don’t know. The same is true in church. Two services give us the ability to do that.
6. Get buy-in from your key leaders before you make a big announcement.
Have the meetings before the meetings. People are usually down on what they’re not up on. So make sure they’re up on the why behind what you’re doing.
7. Build momentum for the big announcement day as well!
You also have a built-in momentum opportunity by getting people excited about the day you announce it! A lot of churches miss this one. Here’s how it works: “Hey, everyone, in two weeks we’re going to be making an announcement that’s going to change our church forever in a great way! If you’re a part of NLC, then you’ve got to be here on May 12 to hear this announcement.”
You’ll have high attendance come announcement day! And people will be primed for the change when it comes as well!
Today, at Next Level Church, we do way more than two services on the weekend, and each time we’ve added a service, we’ve used these tools. Going from a one-service reality to a two-service reality is one of the best ways to generate momentum, get more people involved in the life of your church, and create space for unchurched people to experience God. Leveraging the tips we’ve talked about will allow you to do it right.