Worship Schedule Planning Team: January Meeting Summary

Worship Schedule Planning Team

A Summary of our first meeting: January 30, 2017


Most of our church family knows that we have been discussing potential changes to our Sunday morning worship and small group schedule. Currently, most of our children and youth are not participating in worship, and most of our adults are not participating in any small group. Our Church Council has not yet found a good solution to creating a Sunday morning schedule that will encourage all to engage in a worship style of their choice and a small group on Sunday morning. In an effort to help us find a solution, a Worship Schedule Planning Team has been formed to work on it, and make a recommendation to our Church Council. The first thing the team wants to do is to communicate clearly with our church family at each step.


Who is on the Planning Team?

Key Lay Leadership of Church:

Carolyn Woodrum, Lay Leader

Bruce Jackson, Church Council Chair

Diane Kelley, Worship Chair

Ron & Beth Light, Christian Education Chairpersons

Associate Lay Leaders: Rodger Smith (8:30), Kraig Gass (9:45), Paula Levesque (11:00)

Haylie Stevenson, UM Youth Fellowship President

Sandy Sowder, Children’s Ministry Coordinator


Program Staff of the Church:

Kirk Nave, Lead Pastor

Adam Sowder, Associate Pastor

Joanna Dietz, Minister of Mission and Service

Judy Connelly, Minister of Music

George Amos, Associate Minister of Music

Patty Singhass, Director of Children’s Ministries

Kristin Dawkins, Director of Youth Ministries


Restating the mission

The mission of the church is to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. The first part of this statement comes from the last words of Jesus to his disciples, after Jesus’ resurrection, and just prior to his ascension into heaven (Matt. 28:16-20). The United Methodist Church rephrased this as the mission statement of every local congregation in its Book of Discipline (ppg. 120).


What is a disciple?

In our meeting, we felt the need to define for everyone what we mean when we use the word “disciple.” The word comes from the same root of the word discipline, which means teaching. A disciple is one who learns from Jesus by following him. The first disciples lived with Jesus, ate with him, heard his teaching, and watched his actions, so that they would end up living as he lived. Our goal as a church is to do the same thing: to follow Jesus together, so that we learn to live like Jesus.


Our (Braddock Street Church’s) vision statement says that we are “Followers of Jesus: Loving God (in worship), Loving Others (in small groups), and Serving the World (in mission).” Jesus worshipped, he gathered together a small group to teach, and he served the world in miraculous ways. Our vision statement is saying that there are three primary things that we do as a church to make disciples here: worship, small groups, and service. We expect everyone in our church family to participate in each of these three things. Why? So that, as we do the things that Jesus did, we begin to live and love more like Jesus.


What is a small group?

The question was also raised in our meeting about why we are now referring to small groups instead of Sunday School. Sunday School classes are one type of small group. But when we use the term Sunday School, people who are new to Christianity may think we’re talking about something that is only for children, since school is typically done in our early developmental years. Sunday School also has the implication that this is an academic setting, whose primary purpose is to learn information. A small group is modeled after Jesus and his 12 disciples (usually 8-20 people). It is a group of any age that gathers to learn more about God by studying the Bible, praying together, and supporting one another. Small groups also hold each other accountable to Christian living. They pray for one another. And in a church our size, with three different worship services, your small group is the place where everybody knows your name. Worship, or a lecture style class, is a place where one person talks. A small group is a place where everyone has a chance to dialogue and share their own understandings and experiences of God in their lives.


Methodism began as a small group reform movement within the Church of England (see John and Charles Wesley and their Holy Club at Oxford, and the Methodist societies they formed). Small groups have always been a part of our Wesleyan heritage, and they continue to be an essential piece of our spiritual growth. Everyone’s lives are busy these days, no matter what age you are. We are trying to make it as convenient as possible for everyone to attend the worship service of their choice, and a small group on Sunday mornings.


The Current State of our Sunday Spiritual Practices:

Again, our mission is to make disciples. Our vision is to do that primarily through worship, small groups, and service. Here is what our current Sunday morning participation looks like.


Total church membership, Dec. 31, 2016: 1,118

(Members are those who have been baptized, professed their faith in Jesus Christ, and taken the vows of church membership. This does not include, for example, regular attendees who have not yet joined the church or children who have not yet been confirmed.)


Average Worship Attendance per week for 2016: 520 (8:30- 141; 9:45- 208; 11:00- 171)

Estimated average number of children (infants to 5th grade) in worship: 12

Estimated average number of youth (6th to 12th grade) in worship: 12

Estimated average number of adults in worship: 496


Average number of small groups per week: 26

(This number of small groups includes Sunday School Classes, groups that meet in homes, coffee shops, restaurants, UM Women’s circles, choirs, bands, etc.- Any group that studies God’s word, prays together, and supports one another.)

Average small group attendance per week: 339

Estimated number of children in small groups: 62 (130 on rolls)

Estimated number of youth in small groups: 50

Estimated number of adults in small groups: 227 (this includes those who attend more than one small group, but does not include those in small groups outside our church)


The figures below are to help us visualize this:

So what do all these numbers show us? Notice two things:

  1. The difference between the average number of children and youth in small groups (112) and the average number of children and youth in worship (24). An important side note is that roughly 80% of our children and youth come from families that prefer the 9:45 worship service.
  2. The difference between the number of adults in small groups (227) and the number of adults in worship (496).


Our Problem Statement:

The current sequencing of Sunday morning activities at Braddock Street United Methodist Church does not allow all to engage in both the worship style of their choice and small groups.
Our Task Statement:

Create a schedule to encourage all to engage in a worship style of their choice and a small group on Sunday morning.


We noted the level of resistance that has been shared with us regarding the suggestion of moving one of the existing worship services to the fellowship hall. We came to consensus that we will not be recommending moving a worship service to the fellowship hall at this time. We also acknowledged that any suggested change will not please everyone.


Next steps:


We will meet again on February 20 to do some more work on this. We hope to present a recommendation to the Church Council on May 9. If approved, we would plan to implement a new Sunday schedule at the beginning of the school year (August 2017), or at the beginning of the next calendar year (January 2018).


So this is where we are. Please be in prayer for us. Our staff is praying about this issue daily. We are an exceptionally strong church. We are growing in membership. We are growing in service to our community. We will not propose a change just for change’s sake. We are trying to improve our efforts to making more disciples, and to develop more committed disciples of Jesus Christ, for the transformation of the world.