This Sunday we return to our regular schedule of Sunday worship. We'll meet for one service at 10:00 a.m. through the summer. Now that the eight-week experiment of hosting worship twice on Sunday is over, it's good to stop and reflect on what we learned. Below are three lessons that I learned.
1) Practice Makes Closer to Perfect
The first service was never intended to be a dress rehearsal for the second. However, if you were present for both (bless you), the improvement from one to the other was notable. Like the professionals they are, the musicians received the redo with glee. The sound mix was perfected by 10:30 and the presentation of the music was clearly more refined.
The more apparent enhancement was in the preaching. With 30 minutes between services, I retreated to a room upstairs each Sunday to edit the sermon. After hearing the sermon for the first time myself, something I'm embarrassed to admit, the necessary changes were obvious. Cheap jokes were omitted, language was tightened up, and extraneous asides were deleted. The lesson for me was simple: don't preach your first draft.
2) Fear of the Unknown is Overrated
Since January we've scrambled to respond to the steady increase in worship attendance. We purchased more chairs, bought a stage, and leased a printer to hold off the perceived threat we imagined hosting two services on Sunday represented. Now that we've done it, I'm unsure about what scared us. It wasn't easy, but neither was it impossible. The practical issues were addressed without a hassle and it's apparent that we should of instituted the second service earlier.
3) Fear of the Unknown is Underrated
What's next for DOWNTOWN CHURCH? I don't know. In the fall, it's likely that we will resume the two service schedule but we now know that hosting two services will result in additional growth. Responding to the growth relative to worship isn't what keeps me up at night. Along with additional worshippers come additional demands on the core group, staff, and leadership to identify more group leaders, increase our giving, and generate meaningful ways for people to live out their commitment to this local church in the community. These are good challenges to have but patting ourselves on the back for having the right kind of challenges isn't a solution. We should be grateful for what God has already done and, at the same time, be aware that God's dreams for us may be bigger than our own.