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Considering a Saturday Night Service?



Author: Rory Noland
Leadership Category: ,

Posted June 22, 2016 by

(Originally published in Sept 2012 issue of Worship Leader. For more articles like this one, subscribe today.)

Question: Our church is thinking about adding a Saturday night service. What all do we need to take into account in making this decision?

Answer: You didn’t specify, but I assume the church is considering the additional Saturday night service to accommodate growing attendance, which, of course, is a good thing. The additional time slot would offer attendees another option and make more seats available in your current Sunday services. In addition, Saturday night services are often a big hit with families because it’s easier to get the kids ready for church Saturday afternoon than it is to get them up, dressed, and fed in time for church Sunday morning. No wonder Saturday night services have become popular for church growth strategists these days. However, in spite of the benefits and growing popularity, not every church opts for a Saturday night time slot. In fact, some churches these days, having weighed the cost, reject the idea outright. Hopefully, the following questions (plus much prayerful discernment) will help your church leadership decide whether a Saturday night service is right for you.

  1. Would a Saturday night service violate any of your values as a church?

Adding a Saturday night service will invariably challenge some of your church’s values and long-held traditions. When values conflict, each church must decide which ones to uphold and which ones to relax. For example, a Saturday night service will definitely change your church’s sense of community. Instead of one church that meets on the same day, where even those coming at different times still bump into each other between services, a Saturday night service splits the church into two congregations meeting on different days. People may go for years never seeing the other “half” of the church that worships on the opposite day. Whatever the value or tradition in jeopardy, it’s up to the church leadership to decide whether the benefits of a Saturday night service outweigh any possible negative impact on church culture.

  1. Can the church staff handle the additional workload?

The group affected most by the addition of a Saturday night service is the church staff, especially the worship and children’s ministries, both of which carry the lion’s share of the extra workload. To the staff and key leaders, adding Saturday night entails more than “just adding another service.” You’re adding an additional workday. That’s why it becomes especially draining for those who preach and lead worship. In addition, if Saturday was previously a day off for the staff, that time needs to be compensated. Thus an entirely new work rhythm is created, one with less office hours. Deadlines are usually moved up a day to get ready for the weekend. So the questions beg to be asked: Can the staff get their weekly work done in fewer hours? Does the church need to hire additional staff to help shoulder the load? What would that cost?

Then there are questions as to how the increased workload affects staff members personally. Would the change contribute to or diminish the spiritual health of your staff? Would it allow staff and key leaders to live sane lives while doing ministry? What days will the staff need to take off work to compensate for Saturday responsibilities? What if their spouses work on their day off? Could marriages suffer because staff spouses have less time for each other?

  1. Do you have enough volunteers to pull off an additional service?

The last question, but certainly not the least important, is whether the church has enough volunteers to pull off an additional service. As the worship leader, you will definitely need to recruit more musicians and artists to handle the added service. Don’t assume that you can just ask all your current volunteers to “just do one more service.” When you add the Saturday time commitment to what they’re already doing on Sunday, it will mean that the worship team will give up most of their weekend every time they serve at church. Better to spread the increased demand among a large number of players than put it all on the backs of a few. Because the worship team plays such a vital role in the service, make sure you’re ready should the church decide to go forward with this decision. Better yet, see if you can ask for four to six months lead time to give you an opportunity to build depth on your team. And then go into high recruitment mode. You’ll certainly need it!

Find out more about Rory Noland, here.

One Comment

    Darren Raley

    Great article! Excellent points. As Director of Worship at a church with 4 weekend services (Sun. 8, 9:30 & 11:00 and Sat. 5:30), I can tell you that the concerns mentioned are well founded. I would add that we have had Saturday evening worship for over 10 years, and, while difficult, it has been a real boon to our church. We have had ups and downs with the service for reasons to numerous to count, but it is currently our most rapidly growing service.

    I would like to mention that having a Saturday service has allowed us to reach a segment of our community that we wouldn’t be able to otherwise. Our community has a good sized percentage of folks who frequently (or regularly) have to work on Sunday morning – EMS, Drs, Nurses, Police, Fire, etc. We strive to offer the same (or very similar) message at all 4 weekend services to allow folks to come to the service that fits their schedule “this week”, and still keep current with the sermon series.

    I recommend Saturday nights very highly, but it is not for the faint of heart. You definitely need dedicated volunteers as well as the full backing of the church leadership and staff.

    Finally, I cannot stress enough the need to plan and organize before adding any service to your schedule. When we were looking to add another service 10 years ago, we took 9 months to research, pray, recruit, pray, plan and pray. The time was invaluable. We have had experiences since where such thorough groundwork was not done, and we have reaped what we sowed.

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