“Why do we need to offer Middle School at both hours on Sunday mornings?”
- IT IS A PART OF A GREATER PLAN FOR OUR CHURCH TO REACH OUR COMMUNITY FOR CHRIST: The greater goals we are setting out to accomplish with any and all changes anywhere in the church are: (1) To grow in health and unity in the body, (2) To emphasize corporate worship for a season, and (3) To do a better job of making First McKinney a welcoming place for our guests, so that we can see more people from our community find and follow Jesus.
- Since everything is related in our ministry, it is very difficult to make just one change in one ministry area without it affecting many other things. The goal has always been to align our resources to accomplish our mission in the most effective way possible. Nobody is perfect and no plan is ever without risk, but this plan has been prayed over, in and through. We have spent hours upon hours planning as a team and we have attempted to strike a fine balance, all things considered. Some changes that we felt like we needed to make to reach our community and greet our guests properly (like balancing the Life Groups over the two hours, getting a better mix of age groups available to greet at both hours, etc.) required us to make some changes in other areas – like having two identical worship services or offering Middle School ministry at both hours.
- WE WANT TO MAKE IT AS EASY AS POSSIBLE FOR FAMILIES TO BE ABLE TO WORSHIP TOGETHER: We are a church that is “Family-focused” as a core value. Pastor Richard desires to see the whole church worshipping together with their families whenever possible. One thing that stops our families from being able to worship together (as a family) is our current schedule of Life Groups and how it aligns with what we offer for Middle School and High School students. For instance, if a couple would like to attend a Life Group that happens to be offered at the second hour and their Middle School student has his or her student ministry offering in the first hour only, then the family will unintentionally be separated or have to choose between worship, a small group or the Middle School offering. That’s a problem the church staff desired to alleviate, so that any family that wanted to follow their pastor’s spiritual leading could do so without having to make unnecessary sacrifices. A mother and father worshipping together is a powerful witness to their children that observe them.
- FOR THE SAKE OF EVANGELISM: Speaking of witness, In Matthew 22, Jesus tells us that the “Great Commandment” is to love God with all of our being. And He says that the second “Great Commandment” is “like it”; to love our neighbor as ourselves. Those are the two greatest commandments because Jesus tells us that ALL of the Law and the Prophets hang on what is taught in them. Pastor Richard is leading us to be even more evangelistic than we already are by embracing unity and worship together so that guests will experience the power of God when they come to our church and see us Worshipping the “1” unified in the Spirit. Our corporate worship is a powerful witness that leads to evangelistic fervor and fruit as we worship God and are sent out to share what we have experienced with our friends and family. John Piper says that “Missions exists because worship does not. Therefore, missions is the second greatest human activity.” As we come together in powerful corporate worship, we are witnessing to our guests. And as we leave church to go back into our mission field, we are encouraged and empowered to share Christ with our neighbors and our community, local and global.
- TO DO A BETTER JOB GREETING GUESTS AND PROVIDING THEM WITH OPTIONS THAT HELP THEM FIND AND FOLLOW JESUS: Speaking of guests again, we need to greet and serve them! Our community is younger than the majority of our welcoming team, so we need to add some of our younger members at both hours to greet our guests. We are a multigenerational church, so our guests should experience that core value when they walk on our campus and ask for assistance. Our current Life Group schedule stops this from happening because a great majority of our younger Life Groups meet in the first hour, which means they can only serve or attend worship in the second hour. By balancing our Life Group schedule and adding Middle School ministry at both hours, we are now able to have a healthy balance providing everyone, including our guests, with options to attend a family-focused, multigenerational service.
- WE NEED SPACE IN THE SECOND WORSHIP HOUR WHERE GROWTH COMES: Historically, the majority of our guests like to attend the later service, especially if they come by themselves and it is the first time they have attended. Unfortunately, that is the service that is currently full while the earlier service has seats available. It’s important to note that there have been times when guests came and then turned around and left because there was no room in the second service. We never want that to happen. In order to provide space for our guests, we need to attempt to balance our services so that there are seats available for guests at both hours. In real numbers (given our current attendance) we need to move approximately 300 people from the later service to the first service. Of note, our worship style will be the same musically at both hours beginning on August 21.
- WE DID NOT WANT TO CHANGE THE HIGH SCHOOL STRUCTURE: Anytime you have a great ministry that creates gravity, a “herd mentality” can develop where students want to attend when and where their friends attend. High School students are especially sensitive to this phenomena and they also drive themselves to church many times. Since they are already focused on the second hour, we felt like it was best to leave the High School ministry alone and focus on providing the younger families with options.
- MOST MIDDLE SCHOOL STUDENT PARENTS WANT THEIR CHILDREN IN WORSHIP WITH THEM AND THIS GIVES THEM OPTIONS: While it is true that a herd mentality can develop at younger ages, most Middle School parents still want to keep an eye on their children and be in the same worship service. Our goal is to give the family options that are acceptable with their other goals of service, group time and following their pastor’s spiritual leadership. Adding Middle School to a second hour will allow some families to move to the first service and create room for guests in the second service while also helping our first service be more multi-generational.
- FOR THE SAKE OF UNITY: From time to time, the church shows signs of disunity with factions vying with one another in the church over preferences and styles. We have seen a “church within a church” mentality develop when we have tried different venues focused on worship styles. Silos have developed. People have chosen “sides” when there should really only be one “side.” Therefore, Pastor Richard is providing spiritual leadership by asking the church to come together to focus for a season on unified Corporate Worship as our priority. He wants our faith family unified and worshiping together as well as our nuclear families. Healing and unity will come to the church body by focusing together on that which we were created to do: Worshipping God in the unity of the Spirit. Changes to schedules across the board were required in order for families to worship together.