‘If we add another service we won’t know everyone!’
Most pastors and other church leaders have heard this objection at one point or another. It might be a point of contention when the leadership suggests the addition of another worship service. Similarly, it might be the cry when leadership begins looking at the option of creating a new venue or adding a new site.
A pastor in our Church Answers community recently shared his frustration when a similar objection was raised because of the growth of the church. A church member really told him the church needed to stop growing because the longer-term members don’t know most of the new members.
Sigh. I guess we can start a new emphasis and call it “reverse evangelism.” Ask the newcomers to leave so we can maintain the integrity of our holy huddles.
There are so many problems with this attitude and argument. Let’s look at a few of them.
1. The maximum most people can know well in a church is around 30 people. That number may double if you add casual acquaintances. Once a church’s worship service gets above 50 to 75 people, you can no longer really know everyone.
2. Worship services are not the best venues for community. Church members connect so much better in groups like community groups, life groups, home groups, and Sunday school classes.
3. This attitude is the opposite of a Great Commission mentality. The clear focus is inward, not outward. Jesus told us to take up His cross and follow Him. This attitude tells us to lean on our crutch and follow our whims.
4. There are often unarticulated and underlying meanings to these objections. It is not uncommon to start a new service with a different worship style. Some of the objectors may not really be concerned as much with the additional service as the style of worship.
5. This attitude is likely divisive. Often these objections result in members taking sides. The church becomes divided. Unity is harmed, if not hindered.
6. The objection is sometimes rooted in power and control. Multiple services, venues, or sites may result in more people being reached. More people being reached means power, in its more carnal sense, becomes diffused. Additionally, multiple services mean that power brokers in the church cannot have their hands on every activity. Thus, the issue may ultimately be one of control.
While there are a few people who have theological concerns about multiple services and sites, most objections grow from the foundation of self-centeredness and preferences. And for a number of church members, the issue may be connected to one of “the three deadly Cs”: comfort, control, and carnality.
I am grateful to the Church Answers’ community for raising this issue and for the incredible discussion that followed.
This article was originally published at ThomRainer.com on February 25. Thom S. Rainer serves as president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources. Among his greatest joys are his family: his wife Nellie Jo; three sons, Sam, Art, and Jess; and seven grandchildren. Dr. Rainer can be found on Twitter @ThomRainer and at facebook.com/Thom.S.Rainer
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