Several years ago, our church adopted a 2020 Vision plan that provides our congregation with a roadmap for fulfilling our mission of making disciples of Jesus Christ. The primary goal established is to claim 2020 professions of faith by the year 2020 and so far, we are about 25% of the way there. Thanks be to God! Also, other goals were set that aligned with our core values based on the Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations – Radical Hospitality, Passionate Worship, Intentional Faith Development, Risk-Taking Mission and Service, and Extravagant Generosity.
One of the associated goals is to have 2020 people in worship and to offer ten weekly services. Currently, we see a little less than 800 worshipers in our three services. So our Passionate Worship Team and Five Practices Council has considered ways to incorporate more people into our worshiping community. The first action we are going to undertake is to offer a new 8:00 am service in the Transmitter Sanctuary, beginning September 9th. It will be similar in content to the current 9:30 contemporary service with the same band playing at both services. But the musical and visual elements will be less produced with a more “acoustic” style at the earlier hour. Of course, the preaching will still meet our normal mediocre standards since I’ll be the primary speaker. ☺
In recent months, we have seen significant growth at 9:30 with the sanctuary now consistently at or above 75% of capacity on most Sundays. Most church experts agree that when more than 80% of the available seats are filled, it prohibits growth due to a “full” feel. The past two Easters we have offered an additional 8:00 am contemporary service and it has been well-received. In addition, since we moved traditional worship to its current 11:00 time slot two years ago, many persons have expressed a desire for an early service. So we believe the time is right to launch this new service. Initially, there will be nursery care but no Treasure Kids children’s church at this 8:00 am service. However, we are exploring ideas to incorporate kid-friendly elements into the format as we think it will be enticing to families who have children engaged in other activities later in the day on Sunday.
I am convinced this new arrangement will give us a wonderful mix of worship styles, times, and locations that will enable us to reach a wider audience and get us closer to our 2020 goals. I am pleased with the quality of worship experiences we offer and believe each and every one of them meets our definition of passionate worship by helping people “experience the life-changing presence of God in the presence of others.” I sometimes wonder why we have not seen more growth in attendance in recent years. While there may be a variety of reasons, I believe a major factor is our failure to “get the word out” about what is happening in our Lynn Haven UMC worship services.
For that reason, we are launching an intentional promotional campaign that highlights our worship service offerings through a variety of means. One of the first things we are going to do is sponsor three billboards along the Highway 77 corridor advertising our 11:00 am traditional worship service. We moved it to this time slot because it is considered the prime time for traditional worship in our nation, especially in the South. With many congregations no longer offering traditional style services, I believe there are many folks, both young and old, non-believers and believers, who would greatly benefit from what we have to offer. So hopefully some of them will see the billboards and give Lynn Haven UMC traditional worship a try.
In addition to the publicity we send out, we need each and every one of you to let others know what they are missing. The best advertising is “word of mouth,” so if you are being blessed by our worship services at either Transmitter or Fusion, tell someone. Invite an unchurched friend, neighbor, co-worker, or family member to “come and see” what the Lord is doing in this place.
I personally am thankful for the opportunity I am given each week to worship with the people called Methodists at Lynn Haven. Starting in September, I will have to get up a little earlier but I know it will be worth it as I will then get to experience God’s power and presence three times on a typical Sunday morning. I hope you will renew your commitment to be in worship each and every week, whether it is at Fusion or Transmitter, contemporary or traditional, 9:30 or 11:00 am, and soon to be 8:00 am as well. But you don’t have to wait until September! Please join me in praying that God will be honored and that many persons will become a part of God’s family through our passionate worship services that serve as entry points into our fellowship. To God be the glory! In Christ,Craig CarterLead Pastor, LHUMC