Why we’ve added a second service

We have recently added a second service to our Sunday schedule. At the minute, we are doing them once-per-month but there is scope to make it a weekly affair in time. We had been running only one service in the morning. It is, admittedly, a fairly long time. We meet at 9:45am for prayer, get stuff setup from 10:15am, move into a time of fellowship over tea & coffee by 10:30am and then embark on the formal part of the service by 11am. The meeting itself it usually wrapped up between 12:30-12:45pm. But we (the elders) have increasingly felt there was an appetite for more word-ministry.

We didn’t want to replicate the morning service but worked hard to make it pointedly different. Our morning services include an opening reading (usually a Psalm), a time of singing, time to share testimony, communion, open prayer, Bible reading and a c. 40-minute sermon followed by another song and a benediction. Our morning service is centred on the Word and our preaching is systematic and almost always works through one book of the Bible, passage-by-passage, and then – when it is finished – we move onto another. We are purposefully wedded to systematic teaching to allow God to set the agenda for the church.

By contrast, our afternoon service is intentionally stripped back. We don’t sing, we don’t have communion and we don’t listen to a 40-minute sermon. We also don’t do systematic teaching through books of the Bible. Instead, we address things topically. We break into three small groups, watch a short video on the given topic and then discuss two or three big questions in our groups. We then feedback the group discussions together. Following the first feedback session, we do the whole thing again by watching a different video and answering slightly different questions to push our thinking on the topic a bit further.

We have found this setup gives us the opportunity to spend more time together as a church (we usually stick around for our lunch between the two services) as well as spend more time in the Word. Whilst the videos are a prompt to our thoughts on the topic, the questions come with a series of Bible verses to look up which are to form our thoughts. What is more, the split between the main systematic teaching in the morning service and the topical approach in the afternoon, allows us to systematically teach the whole counsel of God book-by-book whilst addressing live issues – or doctrinal concepts – in a different way and setting.

We are early days with the second service. But early takeup has been good, discussion has been helpful and people seem hungry for more.