I am sooo super excited about this decision we've made as a staff team. Thank you to all of you who've given input into this decision. We have spent much time in prayer and discussion trying to discern the proper timing and procedure with this decision. We have been praying like crazy for God to lead us to His best during this season of the church. Truth be told, I actually wanted to add a second service in September and our team and a couple of mentors told me to hold my horses. So I did! But here is why I believe it is the best decision for our church: NOW! (technically January 31st)
So here is how we came to this decision: (if you care)
1. We recognize our primary call is to reach people with the good news about Christ. We must give people the very best opportunity to respond to Him. That means that our comfort and convenience as a staff team, and as leaders is no longer our primary aim. Adding a second service actually complicates our lives, requires more out of our team and is not the "easiest" change. Yet, we have such a burning passion to spread the love of God to our community that we are laying our comfort and convenience down for the sake of others having the best opportunity to hear and respond to the gospel.
2. We averaged over 200 adults in worship during the month of November. Our meeting room seats about 250. This means that we averaged over 80% of our capacity in our current meeting space. In church life when a room is at 80% capacity, growth stops. Why does this happen? I have NO IDEA! It just is the case across the board. We have to figure out a way to add more seats so that space doesn't stop of us from reaching the vision God has for our church.
3. Churches typically grow in spurts. So for example we grew from 125 people to 150 people from March to April, then we held there during May and June. Then we went from 165 in July to close 250 in total attendance in November. (averaging growth of about 20 people per month). Through prayer, planning and projections we anticipate late January through April to be another season of growth. If we don't launch a 2nd at this point, it may not be best until fall 2010 to launch, which with our growth trends could cause us to miss out on over 100 new people God would have for us to reach.
We have huge opportunity on January 31st to reach new people as we head into the Spring. We plan to send out 60,000 mailers to our community and challenge every person to bring a friend or two. What if we tried to reach a bunch of new people and didn't have sits for them? So through God's leading we will be able to create enough seats for all the people who currently come and more! Our children's ministry also has reached capacity. Our second service will free up space for children's ministry and allow our Bay Kids to reach more people.
4. Bay Kids Challenges: Many of our BayKid's workers have been serving on a weekly basis for 8 months now without getting to attend an adult worship service. Adding the 2nd service will give opportunities for these people to participate in one service and serve in another. This is a huge win for our volunteer teams.
5. We have close to 100 people who've started to come to South Bay but have yet to experience the life changing power of serving Jesus on one of our volunteer teams! Adding a second service will open up at least 50 extra spots for people to serve 1-2 times per month. This is a huge win for our regular attenders to get more connected.
What are some of the potential concerns with going to two services:
1. Everyone will no longer know each other. I've had several conversations with people asking me about this. Often people comment on how much they love the warm and inviting atmosphere of South Bay Church. I think that people can fear that as we grow large we will lose that warmth. We often say as a team that we want to grow large and small at the same time. We grow large and reach more people through our Sunday services. We grow smaller and develop community through our small groups that meet throughout the week. Every person knowing every person would be nice, but is not necessary to have healthy biblical relationships. In addition, there are both practical and missional reasons for this. Let's be honest... You can only really maintain relationships with about 65 people. Wouldn't it be a travesty if all of our relational bandwidth was tied up inside our church and we no longer had the capacity to carry out the mission Jesus has given us as a church? Let's develop great relationships with one another AND make room in our lives to meet and love those who've yet to experience God's love! We are finding the "BOTH AND" solution and not the "EITHER OR" solution.
2. We could potentially lose momentum when it comes to critical mass in our services. This is a very valid concern. First off, we must consider the question... "What is critical mass anyways?" Ideally we don't want to have less than 100 people in any one service. When we kick off the second service there is a very strong possibility that one service will be smaller than the other. The great news about this... That gives us additional seats to reach new people QUICKLY! Also, through the set up of our room we will pull the curtains closer together and make the room feel smaller. This will help us gain a better feel and set up a small number of chairs. So in essence in one week will go from 250 chairs in one service to 350 chairs in two service and add more chairs up to 500 as we grow. That will be pretty cool to watch all that unfold. I totally think this is a valid concern, and going to a second service is always a great risk, but not expanding the kingdom and growing is a greater risk for us as a church!!
I'm not sure you really even wanted to know all of this. But I'm sure if you didn't you stopped reading by now. If you did, I'm glad you made it to the end. This is my world and the stuff I think about, pray about, and lose sleep about. At the end of the day, leading in God's Kingdom is kind of an art. You pray, try to hear from God, get wisdom from books mentors and friends, analyze the data and then try to make the best decision possible. We've made the best Spirit led, strategic, wise, vision focused decision possible. I pray that you'll jump on board with us to watch all that God is going to do in 2010.