Transition Survey

Transition Survey

Dear Friends,

As we rush ever nearer towards the transition to our new building and campus there are many, many things to consider in regard to how we operate and move forward.  Over the last few years, we have steadily reduced the amount of space we occupy and that has affected what we have been able to do and how we have had to do those things.  Very soon, the opposite will be true.  We will soon experience exponential growth in our available space.  That is very exciting because it opens up possibilities to do new things and old things in new (hopefully better) ways. 

Paul, Cameron and I have spent hours and hours thinking about, discussing and readying ourselves and the church to step into this fast-approaching reality.  We are calling and attending meetings, reading studies, considering our personality as a body and praying that our Lord will guide us in every step we take.  Our desire is not to do things the way we like them or necessarily the easiest way.  We want to make decisions and changes that will lead us to operate in the “best” way, in a way that is most effective to the salvation of the lost and to growth in God’s Kingdom.  I hope that you join us in that desire.

One of the items that we have been tossing around for months now is what is the best way to organize our Sunday morning format now that we will have options for doing things differently.  The formats we have been prayerfully considering are; 1) Current Format – Worship, Fellowship, Life Groups, 2) Traditional Format – Life Groups, Fellowship, Worship, and 3) Non-Traditional Format – Worship, Fellowship with Life Groups whenever and wherever the individual group chooses to meet.

You may recall that before I came to Frederica, Pastor Jim Staubes led this church to flip its worship and Sunday school times for the summer of 2019.  The desire was to facilitate an increase in class attendance.  The experiment worked and our attendance in Sunday school, what we now call Life Groups, increased by 20%.  The week I started as your full-time pastor you held a meeting and voted to continue holding worship first followed by a time of fellowship and then Sunday school and Life Groups.  Covid, of course, caused us all kinds of logistical issues and those issues were further magnified as we sold portions of our building and constricted our current operational space.  Now that we are moving to a larger space new considerations need to be made.

I have been reading at lot lately on the subjects of church growth and operation.  A few things have been made abundantly clear to me.  First, we shouldn’t allow our traditions and personal comforts to create stumbling blocks to those whom the Lord is drawing to Himself.  In other words, we don’t want to place obstacles before people, making it difficult or inconvenient to hear the saving gospel of Jesus.  Some of those obstacles could be language, dress, location, worship style and format.  Second, our outreach focus must be on those who do not already believe the way we do.  It’s absolutely acceptable to invite your Christian family, friends and neighbors to church but we must be diligent to seek and to save the lost just as Jesus did.  Finally, we must prioritize our Children’s ministry.  This would include our youth and young families.  This does not, on any level, mean we forget or marginalize our other ministries or our senior adults.  In fact, senior adult and men’s ministries are areas we also want to expand.  However, reaching children with the gospel is vital to their eternity and attracting young families to the church is vital to our long-term growth and survival.  Obviously, there are many other factors that affect church growth as well.

In all honesty, over the past few months, I have shifted from one service format option to another then to another.  Again, it cannot be about my personal preference.  It must be about what is best to reach the lost and advance the Kingdom.  At the end of this letter, there will be a link to a survey that will give you the opportunity to share your prayerful thoughts and to weigh in on this discussion.  First, however, let me give you some things to consider.

First, relationships are essential to convincing guests to return.  To help foster those relationships we want to reintroduce a fellowship time during our Sunday morning format.  If our focus is on our guests and creating relationships then it doesn’t really make sense to have this fellowship time before we would expect guests to arrive which would happen if it were held twenty to thirty minutes prior to the main worship service.

Second, we have heard many times from guests with children of their desire for a children’s church.  Cameron and the Children’s Ministry team have determined that this is a program that should be integrated into our Sunday morning format.  The idea is that our children (K-3rd) will stay in the main worship service until just before preaching.  Then they will be escorted to the children’s area for a time of singing, Bible storying and some fun.  This idea flows best if it can then tie in and lead right into their Sunday School time.  It can be done by having Sunday School first, then main worship then Children’s Church but that would mean additional, different curriculum and additional workers for the separate time.

Third, safety and security are always concerns for parents and children. For that reason, families will be required to check in and check out their children into the nursery and other children’s activities. Our current service time format supports this by allowing parents to check their children in and out only once on a Sunday morning.  A traditional format would require children to be checked in, then picked up for fellowship/worship then picked up again after worship.  This would also require families who arrive last minute for worship only to check their children in prior to children’s church.

Fourth, in regards to church growth, the importance of Sunday school and life groups cannot be overstated.  Our experiment with our current format did work and attendance did increase.  It also made it easier to entice guests to stay for Bible study thus strengthening their connection to us and those important relationships.  Returning to a traditional format or moving to a non-traditional format de-emphasizes Bible study groups and makes them easier to skip.

Finally, according to Lifeway Research and Thom Rainier, churches that maintain a traditional eleven o’clock worship service are now in the minority.  This is important to me because I felt that having non-traditional times could be a possible obstacle to guests.  However, research tells us that very few people visit a new church without first visiting their web site and checking their times.  Since traditional times are no longer the norm, the expectation is no longer an obstacle. 

The bottom line is that no matter what we decide there will be some of us who disagree with the decision.  I for one, however, am committed to accept whatever decision is made and work to maintain unity in our body and use our new resources to the glory and multiplication of God’s Kingdom.  I hope that you will join me in that pledge and be joyful with our new opportunities in our new home!

Only by Grace,

Pastor Mike

Click HERE to go to the survey.