#SundayChurchHacks – Record your live service & starting streaming it early Sunday morning. Don’t make online attendees wait around until it is convenient for you.

by Bob Whitesel D.Min., Ph.D., 5/2020.

Today we are entering the “age of the eReformation,” an electronic re-formation of the way the Church shares the Good News.

But many churches wait to live-stream their worship at the customary Sunday hour (10:30 or 11 AM).  This requires online attendees to wait around until you are ready to start.

But is holding it “live” with an audience always necessary? Aren’t you hoping that people who watch it later in the week will experience the same worship encounter and connection with the Holy Spirit as you did when you recorded it?

So, why not record and post your worship service early on Sunday morning (or even Saturday night) so more people can experience it when it is convenient for them?  More people may watch it this way.

The eReformation coming upon the Church means the Good News can be more accessible through electronic means, just as it did in 1500s when the printing press allowed people to read the Word any day of the week.

For more ideas see the article I wrote for Biblical Leadership Magazine

eReformation: Leading post-pandemic church growth – 10 things to start doing now

MULTIPLICATION & My 7 Principles for Launching Multiple Worship Venues, Campuses & Times

by Bob Whitesel D.Min., Ph.D., 11/19/15.

For 20+ years I’ve seen that offering culturally different worship encounters can help connect more cultures in a community to God.  But, adding a new worship encounter has its caveats.

Here is my “short list” that I use to help clients see the basics of multiple worship encounters.

First, there are two equally important goals.

GOAL 1:  The first goal is the Great Commission to “make disciples” (Matthew 28:19). Thus, getting new attendees into small groups where they can grow along with others is a major objective.

GOAL 2: The second goal of a new worship service is to create a culturally relevant worship encounter.  It is not a performance, nor a time to create mini-celebrities.  It is a time to foster an encounter with God.

Everything should revolve around these two goals.  If it does, then here is the short list of things you must do to create a new worship encounter for an existing church.

Here are the key principles for starting a new service:

1.    The people who design a new worship encounter should demonstrate that they are missionaries to that culture, or that they are from the culture you are reaching out to.

2.    Ensure you can financially sustain a new service for 18 months, before you launch it.

3.    Make sure you have duplicate leadership too (start training them now, telling them that soon we will launch a new service and they will lead it).

4.    Pick a venue that will be at around 35% full with your projected attendance.

5.    Have small groups (Sunday Schools, etc.) ready before or after all worship encounters.

6.    Keep the worship encounters to 50 minutes total (with 15-20 minutes between services) if you can 😉

7.    Also, make sure your overall attendance is at least 100 before you start a new service.

  • Then ask 50 people to agree to come to the new service for one year (make a covenant to do this, usually written.
  • At the end of that time, they must either recruit someone to take their place, or re-up for another year.  The idea is to create the minimum number of attendees necessary for worship to break out in a larger gathering: usually 35+ people.
  • Thus, with 50 committed, you will usually have 35 in attendance and your new service can grow.

If you follow these principles, you can avoid what these video portray – the temptation to succumb to a largely attractional tactic (ugh!): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ys4Nx0rNlAM  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GjHMZKNKbTk&feature=share

Speaking hashtags: #StLizTX #StMarksTX

WORSHIP SERVICES & How Many Worship Services Should You Offer & When?

by Bob Whitesel, 2/4/15.

Often when considering a multiplication strategy, leaders wonder how many worship services a church should attempt.  Most leaders understand the strategic advantages of offering as many celebration options and styles as feasible.

But how many is too many, and how many are too few?  6 Answers…

The question of type, time, and format of worship celebrations is a very delicate issue.  And, without a complete understanding of each reader’s scenario I would be remiss to state here definitively. But, I can give you some general guidelines.

1.  Have your services on the weekends if at all possible.  These always prove to be better attended (for all generations: builder to organic) than weeknights.  And, in my personal survey of client congregations:

  • Saturday evenings only have 20% of the attendance you can expect on Sunday mornings.
  • 10:30 am on Sunday seems to be the optimum time (for my clients at least) to draw people in.
  • Therefore, try to have as many services at 10:30 am on Sunday.  This might therefore mean multiple venues, sites, etc. for maximum connection with non-churchgoers.

2.  Do not let an occasional teenage service suffice for your adding an emerging/organic church worship celebration.  Emerging/organic ministries are more college-level and 30-something in target and draw.  Keep high school and college-aged gatherings separate from one another.
PreparingChange_Reaction_Md

3.  Analyze your community (I show how to do this in my book “A House Divided,” and to even a greater extent in “CURE for the Common Church”).  It is from your community that you will find unreached age and/or people groups and thus whom the worship celebration should be reaching out to.

4.  Try to offer as many options as you can, given your person power.  In “A House Divided” (Abingdon Press, 2000) I explain how to start a new service:

  • By getting a committed core of (a minimum) 50 individuals who will commit one year to this new celebration and then replace themselves.
  • If you are offering a modern service and it is 80% full, I would reduplicate that.  Or if you have the person power to reduplicate it (even though you are not 80% full) I would duplicate it to reach more people.
  • The more options you offer, proportionally more of the community you will attract to the Good News. 
  • However, if your modern service is less than 80% full and you have another generational or sub-cultural group in the area, you could start a new expression aimed at this new sub-cultural group.  In most communities today, a church should offer a traditional celebration, a modern celebration, and an organic/emergent celebration.  Then reduplicate these as needed.  Times for each should be ascertained from people of these age groups “outside” of the church.

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5.  Go slow.  As you will learn in my book “Staying Power” (Abingdon Press, 2002) or “Preparing for Change Reaction” (Abingdon Press, 2006, chapter 8) research indicates that if you move too fast with new ideas (such as launching a new worship celebration), then you will not get all of your reticent members on board.  Feeling left out, or at least circumvented, the reticent members will coalesce into a sub-group someday and you will have two factions.  So remember, though you are enthusiastic about offering more worship options after reading this chapter, go slow and get reticent members on board to ensure success.

6.  Finally, there is a very good book that goes into this and is one of your recommended readings for this course.  It is “How to Start a New Service” by Charles (Chip) Arn.  Professor Arn goes into great detail, and to ensure success if you are planning on starting a new celebration, you should get this book.  And, Chip Arn is also a faculty for our  Wesley Seminary at IWU M.Div. program, teaching for us full time as Professor of Christian Ministry and Outreach.

WORSHIP ORDER & The Best Celebration Order to Grow a Church

by Bob Whitesel D.Min., Ph.D., 2/4/15.

After almost 30 years consulting, I have noticed that growing churches have a similar and very concise worship order.

This is the worship order (i.e. liturgy) I have observed in growing churches:

10:30 – 10:35, welcome and announcements

10:35 – 10:55, 20 minutes of uninterrupted worship

10:55 – 10:57, pastor comes onto the platform and asks people to pass the offering.

There is no prayer, no special music, no video bumper, just the offering being passed while the sermon begins.

10:57 – 11:17 sermon with two (maximum) take-away points

11:17 – 11:20 closing prayer

11:20 – 11:40 empty and refilling of the auditorium for another service.

Notes:

> A 50 minute service is the most common length for growing churches.

> The hourly times are approximate.

> 10:30 AM on Sunday appears in my observations to be the time when most unchurched people still have available to attend church.

> These times are replicated regardless of what day and/or time the service starts: 8, 8:30, 9:00 AM, 5, 5:30, 6 PM, etc.

But, you get the idea regarding how fast-paced and concise the worship services are in growing churches that I have observed.

WORSHIP SERVICES & My 7 Steps To Launching a New Worship Service (& avoiding the attractional trap)

by Bob Whitesel, Ph.D., 11/13/14

Adding a new worship encounter has its caveats. After helping churches for 20+ years add new worship services, below is my “short list” that I use to help clients see the basic “7-steps” of launching a new worship encounter.

(Note: I distinguish between “launching a new service” and “starting a new worship service.” Starting a worship service first begins indigenously with creating small groups among an emerging culture. See my other post on “Five steps to starting a new service” for information on starting a new service  But once you’ve decided to start one, then this post will tell you how to “launch” it.)

First, you must launch with two important goals:

GOAL 1:  The first goal is the Great Commission to “make disciples” (Matthew 28:19). Thus, getting new attendees into small groups where they can grow along with others is the major objective.  This is even more important than adding a new service.  So, if you can’t undertake a new service, than at least add more small discipleship groups.

GOAL 2: The second goal of a new worship service is to create a culturally relevant worship encounter.  It is not a performance, nor a time to create mini-celebrities.  It is a time to foster an encounter with God.

Everything should revolve around these two goals.  If it does, then go onto this short list of things you must do to create a new worship encounter for an existing church.

Here are the key principles for starting a new service:

1.    The people who design a new worship encounter should demonstrate that they are missionaries to that culture, or that they are from the culture you are reaching out to.
2.    Ensure you can financially sustain a new service for 18 months, before you launch it.
3.    Make sure you have duplicate leadership too (start training them now, telling them that soon we will launch a new service and they will lead it).
4.    Pick a venue that will be at around 35% full with your projected attendance.
5.    Start small groups (Sunday Schools, Life Groups, etc.) of the culture you are reaching out to, three months before you launch your worship encounters.  Ensure that these small groups are between 5 and 8 people (i.e. they have room to grow) and that they know they are the new discipleship venues for new people who attend the worship encounter.
6.    Keep the worship encounters to 50 minutes total (with 15-20 minutes between other worship services) if you can 😉
7.    Also, make sure your overall attendance is at least 100 before you start a new service.

•    Then ask 50 people to agree to come to the new service for one year (make a covenant to do this, usually written 🙂
•    At the end of that time, they must either recruit someone to take their place, or re-up for another year.  The idea is to create the minimum number of attendees necessary for worship to break out in a larger gathering: usually 35+ people.
•    Thus, with 50 committed, you will usually have 35 in attendance and your new service can grow.

If you follow these principles, you can avoid what these video portray, i.e. the temptation to succumb to a largely attractional tactic (ugh!):