The thinking behind starting a second church service

The thinking behind starting a second church service

All Nations Presbyterian Church, the local church that I serve, is starting a second church service this coming Sunday. After having one service for many years, we have decided to start up an afternoon service. This is an intentional move that will stretch us but which we believe will be good for the spread of the gospel in Perth.

To understand this, you need to understand a little of our context. All Nations is a multiethnic, CBD based church. We have, especially in recent years, been blessed with steady growth. This has been a combination of conversions, migration, and some transfer growth from other churches for a variety of reasons. We own our own building and have around 150 or so on a typical Sunday morning. All Nations has three fulltime pastoral staff, including one who was ordained last year after training with us and being theologically trained.

The part of the city that we meet in has also changed. When we purchased the building many years ago, the area was a run-down mainly light commercial area on the fringe of the cultural precinct. Now, however, the area has become popular with real estate developers. There are two new apartment buildings within a block of us, with a tower specific to students and another with a mix of accommodation for students, travellers and short-term stays. There are two other apartment building sites that will be developed one day. God has been kind in turning our commercial area into a residential area, giving us more opportunities for the gospel.

The question has been how to best reach these new people. Like many churches, we have tried many things. Our key outreach ministry is a large English language teaching programme which continues to be very effective. We have tried evangelistic events, running things at local language schools, street evangelism, social nights and more. Yet, through all of this, most conversions have come through people inviting their friends to church or through the English classes. Hook ministries have their place, but we found the regular Sunday service to be the most effective at explaining the gospel and for people to be integrated into our community.

This meant that when our resources allowed, we decided a new service would be a good direction to head in. An afternoon service is being started for at least these reasons:

  • The timeslot may well be attractive to a different demographic to the morning service, especially students and those who work on Sunday mornings; and
  • This will relieve some pressure on our numbers in the morning, making effective community easier than is currently the case; and
  • It gives us the opportunity to train more people in various ministries and for more people to serve; and
  • We already own the building, so the extra cost is minimal; and
  • It will teach us valuable lessons for our future hope of church planting off-site.

Starting a new service brings some potential issues, of course, not only opportunities. Here are some things we have tried to avoid:

  • We don’t expect people to attend both services. In the Reformed world, this is common in some places, and anyone is welcome to attend both if they want. However, we want everyone to commit to one service as the main one where they serve.
  • We don’t want people to decide to attend the afternoon sometimes if they sleep in on a particular morning. Again, we want commitment to one service regularly, not switching between them.
  • We are keen to be diverse in both services. We don’t want the afternoon to be a youth service or young adults service. Hence, we chose 430pm to be more attractive to older people.

Starting this service will cost us. It is always easier to think, “Let’s wait until we are just a little bigger or better resourced to do it”. No, this will stretch us. The morning service will need to train more Sunday School teachers, service leaders and more. The afternoon service will be smaller and everyone will need to actively help. Many will miss seeing friends week by week.

Please pray with us! Pray that God uses this effort to bring more into the kingdom and that our people will grow as they strive to serve, whatever service that might be in.