(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.
- 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.
- 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?
- 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.
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Rory Noland is the director of Heart of the Artist Ministries, an organization dedicated to serving artists in the church. He mentors worship leaders, speaks at churches, workshops, and conferences, leads retreats for artists, and consults with churches in the areas of worship and the arts. Rory is also a published songwriter and has authored four books, all published by Zondervan.