I was sorting through more of the questions today and figured out that this is going to be at least a 5 part series. So thank you in advance for staying tuned and responsive! I appreciate your curiosity and willingness to engage in the conversation. Thus on with the questions and my best response to each.
When will we begin the process of building a church?
Not all of our members and regular attendees are aware that we have a parcel of land at 291HWY and Eastern. And not everyone knows that we still owe about $375,000 on it. Finally, there are still some who are not aware of the fact that we have funds set aside to make the monthly mortgage payment but they will run out in November. We determined two plus years ago that it was not feasible for us to deploy a strategic plan to build on the land. Frankly it is too much debt for our congregation to assume and it would be irresponsible of myself and our leadership team to push us into it. Is the current lease space ideal? No – but it is functional for our current needs and even provides us the space to still grow. And the general trend in church development is a movement away from costly facilities and maintenance. Many contemporary and non-traditional worship communities are more interested in the transformation of the world than the transition to a stand alone building. In other words, we will not be building a church anytime in the near or not to distant future. Our current strategic plan is to utilize this space to the maximum by investing here and even expanding as second phase.
What are we going to do with the land since we can’t sell it?
Our land is listed with Mike Carney, a commercial real estate agent. In recent communication with Mike, he noted that banks are beginning to loosen their lending practices and the commercial market expects to see benefits from that. Second, our leadership team met on Monday night and voted to reduce the current listing price from $950,000 to $899,000 hoping that will generate new interest as well. Finally, one of our fiscally minded individuals is going to contact the bank to see if we can renegotiate our rate and term to take advantage of the current market. If we do not sell the land by this fall then we will absorb the monthly mortage payment into the operating budget and figure out how to make the payment. If anyone has any additional suggestions, please feel free to let me or Gene Wachholtz know. We are open to any feasible suggestion.
Why isn’t church later on Sunday?
I did a quick Google search on this one because I can give you my reasons but I thought it might be best to read an article on it. This is from the website ChurchRelevance.com:
Has there been any research done regarding the best day and time for a weekly postmodern, emerging worship gathering? Does it vary by region? Is Sunday morning or Sunday evening more appealing to postmoderns?
– Gary :: Wadsworth, OH
As far as I know, there has not been any research that is as precise as identifying the best time for a postmodern, emerging church service. In fact, there is very little research on the best times for a church service available.
The concept of Sunday morning worship is well-engrained into U.S culture so it makes sense for most churches to have services on Sunday mornings. By habit and tradition, American communities naturally expect church to be held on Sundays. The exception, of course, is Seventh-day Adventist churches and several other denominations, which meet on Saturdays.
What Research Says:
Although there is little research about what is the best day and time for a church service, there is some worth noting.
In a Christianity Today article, Thom Rainer shares:
“Most of the unchurched prefer to attend church on Sunday morning if they attend. Perhaps the unchurched responded this way because that is the time they have always heard church should be.
A very distant preference was a weeknight service other than Friday night.
Though their number is relatively small, single adults and adults who must work on Sunday seem to prefer Saturday evening worship as a fairly strong second choice to Sunday morning.”
A 2007 Gallup poll discovered:
•21% of people who do not attend church do so because they don’t have time or don’t get around to it
Similarly, a 2006 study by LifeWay Research reported that among people who stopped attending church:
•19% said they simply got “too busy to attend church”
•17% said “family and home responsibilities prevented church attendance”
Among Australians who don’t go to church, a 1998 survey by NCLS Research discovered:
•31% said there are “other things I prefer doing”
•21% said “I have too many commitments”
•15% said there is “not enough time to go because of work.”
I hope this is helpful. Because of the American psyche that is inclined to think of worship on Sunday mornings, we will continue to offer our primary worship opportunities then.
Why don’t we make the early service earlier so we can have a Sunday School time? How can we expand the adult Sunday school program?
A traditional Sunday school hour between services works exceptionally well if you have more than adequate space available to meet the needs of children, youth, and adults. Since we lack the needed classrooms, we try to keep our services closer together in order to encourage intentional faith development and worship on Sunday morning. Here is what we offer:
9am – Men’s small group meets in Braille Bible
– Women’s prayer study group meets in Preschool-2nd grade class room
– Youth meet in either their classroom or the office
1045 – Adult Sunday school class meets in the office or youth room
– there is the option for a new class to meet in Braille Bible
Noon – Prayer study group meets in the office
6pm – Not Your Mama’s Small group meets in the office
– Prayer study group meets in Braille Bible
And there are several other small groups and prayer study groups that are meeting in homes as well. If we tried to consolidate to an hour between worship services we would cut in half our opportunities and more than likely, our participation in faith development. Our intention is to empower and resource any new small group opportunity that is grassroots initiated. The best small groups come from your ideas and needs; not from our guesses.
Will our church continue it’s outreach missions with decreased membership?
Yes. Last fall our mission project leaders met to discuss what we had been involved in during 2011 and what we believe we can continue to support in 2012. Each of them represented well their vision for outreach, justice and mercy extended to our local community and beyond. We have 15 missions/outreach projects that we are supporting and no matter what size of membership/regular attendees we will always balance an outward focus with the development of an intimately connected worship community.
These are the questions and answers for this week. Some of the deep questions are still yet to come so stay with me! Blessings for the journey.