As of the first Sunday in January, we are officially on our new schedule of one service at 9:00 a.m. Hopefully you have all prepared yourselves for the change. Set those clocks a little later-- or earlier, depending upon which one was 'your' service.
What Is-- and Isn't-- Happening
Just to review, the new schedule is worship at 9:00 a.m., Sunday School and Bible study following (probably at 10:15 - 10:30). Sunday school will still meet in the school building. Adult Bible study will still be meeting in the church basement (although we're temporarily relocated to the sanctuary while the basement is being fixed). Our communion schedule is not changing, either. It is still offered on the 2nd and 4th Sundays of each month.
As you can see, most things have stayed the same.
Remind Me Why We Are Doing This?
There are a couple of things that we hope to accomplish by making this change. The biggest one is having the church more full from week to week. When we split our congregation between two services from Sunday to Sunday it gives the appearance that our attendance is much lower than it actually is. Not only does it feel nice to have more people there at once, there are other benefits, as well. When the church is more full we begin to get a better sense of our singing abilities, for example.
Similarly, it will allow you to see people that you otherwise would not have seen again in church until the summer. Let's face it, even though we could go to the other service on any given Sunday, we rarely do. That's why it's been said that a church that adds a second service now has two congregations. It's not unusual to hear someone wonder where another member has been-- only to find out that they've been there, but at the opposite service.
Along with that, we hope to try to build a greater sense of fellowship. For decades, our members were, generally speaking, related to at least a few other families in the congregation. There is still some of that, but we're slowly losing those bonds. If we're not careful about building a sense of fellowship through other means, then we'll lose a great deal more in the near future.
But Isn't It a Big Inconvenience?
For a number of people it is. Change is difficult because we struggle with the simple fact that, when things change, they won't be the same. We like what we like and we don't want to give it up. But is that really a good reason to stay away from worship entirely, for example? Especially when we compare our concerns to Christians around the world who literally risk their lives for the opportunity to worship, our slight discomfort is put into better perspective.
That's not to say that there won't be significant impacts, though. The new time doesn't work the best for some families with young children who normally are napping at that time of the day. It also causes some significant challenges to having our school choirs play/sing during our services. Since our service times no longer match up with Immanuel's, having the school children singing in church at either place causes a negative impact upon the Sunday school program at the other church. These are real issues that we're working to address as best we can.
Either way, we appreciate your patience as we make the change. We hope that everyone will find that the benefits are worth it.