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In 2009, Let’s Get Together at 10!
by Tom Goodman
December 11, 2008

I believe God is leading us to a single 10am Sunday morning service, and our staff and deacons agree.  Now we seek your support for this move.

In October and November, our congregation enjoyed six weeks together at 10am, and it was great to have the energy and sweet fellowship when everyone from 5 to 95 filled up the room.  We’re at our best when we’re together as a family.  The staff and the deacons join me in proposing we come together in a single 10am Sunday morning service.

The bylaws neither require nor forbid a congregational vote on when to hold our Sunday service.  However, I recommended to the deacons that we hold a vote on this, and they have agreed.  We will vote on this matter in the same manner we vote on the annual budget: a Wednesday meeting for discussion and a Sunday morning vote.  On Wednesday, January 7, we’ll hold a special called business meeting at 6:30pm.  On Sunday, January 11, we’ll take a ballot vote.  For the proposal to pass we will seek a majority, in keeping with our bylaws.  Should the proposal pass, we will begin our new 10am service Sunday, January 18.

God has taught us some valuable things through the Sunday morning format we’ve had the last three years.  We have more musicians in the music ministry than we did before, we have a wider range of musical expressions than we did before, and Common Ground turned out to be a wonderful success.  But just as we followed God’s leadership in forming two services, it’s time to follow God’s leadership into one 10am service now.

After six weeks of combined services in October and November, everyone I’ve talked to agrees that a combined service is best, but some still have questions about holding the service at 10am.  At Hillcrest, we want members and guests to participate in two activities every Sunday morning: worship and small-group study.  There are several advantages to our small-group ministry for setting the worship service at 10:

First, our Common Ground ministry needs to meet after the worship service.  While Sunday School classes aren’t dependent on what happens in the worship service, Common Ground groups are.  Common Ground groups use discussion guides built on the Bible lesson taught in the worship service.  Did you know that about half of your church’s small-group attendance is made up of Common Ground participants and the kids they bring to preschool, children, and youth classes?  Common Ground has been very successful in the last three years, and we need to try to accommodate to this ministry in the schedule we create.

Second, I believe Sunday School classes will benefit from this schedule as well as Common Ground groups.  I know that in some classes teachers get frustrated watching class members trickle in to Sunday School the first 15-20 minutes of class in our current schedule.  Some classes really can’t get rolling until 9:50 because of this.  But during the six weeks in October and November when we were together at 10am, everyone showed up to your class room at the same time.

Third, whether you’re in a Sunday School class or a Common Ground group, it’s very easy to meet a guest in the service and invite him right away to the Bible study ministry.  During the six weeks in October and November when we were together at 10am followed by small-group ministry, we had a 50 percent increase in the number of visitors in our Sunday School classes and Common Ground groups.

Fourth, holding the service at 10am allows Bible study classes the option of meeting before worship.  Even though I see some real advantages to holding your Sunday School class after the combined worship service, your class may choose to meet earlier.  If your class members don’t need child care, you could meet from 8:45 to 9:45, and then go to the worship service.

While most adjusted quickly to the special six-week schedule in October and November, I know that others struggled with how it impacted their familiar Sunday School routine.  But we need to be in one service, and that’s going to require adjustments from all of us.

As church members discuss what the Hillcrest Family should do on this matter, there are three levels of evaluation:

At the lowest level, people will say, “I like or dislike this proposal based upon what makes me comfortable and what fits within my preferences.”

Some will rise to a higher level and say, “This proposal doesn’t exactly fit my preference, but I’ll tolerate it because I’m supposed to think about others.”  Even though that’s a step up from the basement of selfishness, it still doesn’t quite get us where God wants us to be.

There’s a third level of evaluation where you say either, “I’ve prayed about this and I believe God wants us to figure out how to make this proposal work” or “I’ve prayed about this and I don’t believe God wants us going this direction.”  The highest level goes beyond personal preference, and even beyond resigned consent to a point where we seek divine guidance.

Since LeaderLines is aimed at Hillcrest leaders, I want you to pray and help me influence our entire congregation to get to that third level of evaluation.  In our discussion and vote, I want us seeking God’s will for Hillcrest.  I believe we need to be in one combined service at 10am.  Through a lot of thought and prayer, the staff and the deacons are in agreement.  Now it’s your turn to weigh in on this.  As you do so, “make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:3).


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