Regarding the Possibility of Moving the Service Start time from 9:30am to 10am Consultation period: October 8th to November 5th 2017
The PCC are considering moving the service start time from 9:30am to 10am. This letter explains why and how you can have your say.
The Mission: “Go and make disciples.” These are among the last words the Apostle Matthew records Jesus saying in his gospel. This then is the work the Lord Jesus has given us – to share the good news about him with as many as possible so that people (i) Come to faith, (ii) Grow in faith and (iii) Faithfully follow Jesus.
But making disciples isn’t easy…
The Challenge: Making disciples has always been difficult (all but one of the Apostles were martyred because of their faith and evangelistic endeavours!) but there are some particular challenges facing us today. First, people are becoming less religious – especially the young. One survey reports that, “For the first time, more than half of people in the UK do not identify as religious… Among those aged between 18 and 25, the proportion was higher at 71%.”1
There’s another problem too, the membership of the Church of England is in decline as the nation becomes increasingly secular and church membership ages: “John Spence, chairman of the Church’s finance committee, told the Synod that there was an urgent case for a new approach. He detailed research showing that regular attendees are declining by around one per cent per year and that two thirds of members are now over 55. ‘If you look at that arithmetic projection you identify that over a period 2007 to 2057 church attendance and membership would fall from 1.2 million on a regular basis to something like two or three hundred thousand if current trends continue…’”2
The idea: Since Jesus has told us to “Go and make disciples” and the challenge is significant we need to do everything we can to reach as many people as possible with the good news of the gospel. In light of this the PCC are considering returning the 9:30am service to its original start time of 10am (it used to be 10am before we started sharing the building with CHBC). There would be a number of potential benefits including:
- Some non-church families have told Matt they don’t come because the service starts too early. They struggle to get their children ready in time and it’s a problem they could do without, having struggled to get their children ready for school during the week.
- It will make it easier for the elderly & frail to come to church.
- Inviting people to church will be easier as many want/like to sleep in.
- It will make it easier to have church breakfasts. For example, the harvest breakfast could start at 8.30am instead of 8am.
- Church lunches will also be easier as the gap between the end of the service and the start of lunch will be shorter.
The cost: For those of us who already come to St. Paul’s regularly there will inevitably be a cost as the services will start and finish 30 minutes later (which means we’ll have to be extra careful to make sure services don’t overrun!). But we hope you will agree that it will be a price worth paying if it enables us to reach more people with the gospel. We are following Jesus’ example when we put the needs of others before our own: “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:45).
The Prayer: This is not an easy decision to make and there are no guarantees. It may be best to move to a 10am start time, but it may be best to stay at 9.30am. So please pray, asking God to give us the wisdom and love that we need.
We hear Jesus’ command to “Go and make disciples”, please help us to obey.
Please give us a love that puts the needs of others before our own.
Please give us courage to endure hardship when necessary.
Please give us and the PCC the wisdom to make the right decision, whatever that may be.
In his name we pray, Amen.
This is just an idea at the moment and we are genuinely interested to hear your thoughts on the subject. So please think, pray and then feedback any questions or concerns you have to the Church office by Sunday 5th November.
Vicar at St. Paul’s Church