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At Crossroads Community Church, here in Atlanta, Georgia, we have three worship services. Two are on Sunday morning (9 a.m. and 10:15 a.m.) and one is on Sunday evening (6 p.m.).

Each time a service was added it wasn't an easy task, but it was worth it to further maximize the number of people who can be reached before another large and expensive building must be built.

Conversations are now beginning to surface about a fourth worship service. Should we do it? If we do, when? What are the impacts? If we don't start a fourth service, then what? What a challenge! Each time you add a service the complexities increase, but if you do it right, so does the potential to reach people.

I want you to know that the results from starting a second service are worth the challenge and work involved. At Skyline Wesleyan Church where I served for a number of years in Southern California, we accepted this challenge all the way up to four services on two campuses. The second campus was a "church in a box."

Each Sunday at 6 a.m. everything we needed to turn a Performing Arts Center (and later a local Elementary School) into a church was unloaded from a truck. When the service was over it all went back on the truck. It wasn't easy, but every time a new person came to Christ it made it worth it.

No doubt your heart is also motivated by reaching as many people as possible for Christ.

There are many different issues involved in growing a healthy church, but if the "box" isn't big enough, all the wise and strategic leadership in the world doesn't help you. If you are growing, eventually, you will need to build. In the mean time, the concept of multiple services will help you maximize the capacity of your current building.
(This article is written to churches who offer one service and need to start a second service. There are many churches that are already offering multiple services, and are not ready to build or don't want to build, that are considering multi-site pos sibilities. That is a separate topic for another article. It is uncommon for a church offering only one service to consider multi-site options. It is wise to go to two services on your current campus before exploring multi-site possibilities.)
Part 1 of this series on "Starting a Second Service" addresses the concept in general. In this article I want to offer you a check list or strategy to help guide your thinking and planning toward a second service. The following ten steps will keep you on track.

1) Communicate your vision to the inner circle of influencers.
Call an invitation only meeting for the top 20 percent of the influencers in your church. This does not mean just the people who have official leadership positions, but also those who have real influence regardless of position.

It also does not mean invite only the people who like you and are supportive of you as pastor. Again, invite the people who have real influence in the church.

At this meeting cast the vision, and give the reason for a second service. Tell them why you want to start a second service and share your heart to see it happen. Let them ask questions, but do not let this meeting slide into details and problems of making a second service work. Stay with the vision and big picture. You want to gain their support by including them in the process before anyone else.

If you hit resistance from your insiders, stop. Do not proceed ahead until you have their support. You may not get 100 percent buy-in but if you don't have 80 percent to 90 percent enthusiastic support, don't move forward until you do. If it takes you months of one-on-one meetings to win them over, then so be it.

2) Gather and empower a competent leadership team.
Choose a group of leaders uniquely qualified to think through the issues involved in starting a second service. You will want both visionary types as well as tactical, strategic, and organized kinds of leaders on the team. Choose people with the right gifts for this project, not the most popular people.

If you have staff, involve both staff and volunteers. A team of 5-7 people should be sufficient. Six months after the second service has started, this team is disbanded.

3) Dedicate the first meeting to prayer.
Gather the team for the first meeting to do nothing but pray. Ask God for specific clarity of vision and for abundant harvest to result from the second service.

4) Resist the temptation to go into problem solving and idea mode.
Spend time asking the Father for insight, wisdom, favor, and results. Then take some time for reflection to listen to what God has to say to you.

List all the possible issues involved in starting a second service and organize teams to handle each one.

This will be a long and involved meeting. You may want to set aside an evening with dinner or perhaps a half-day retreat setting.

You will come up with about 20 things to be dealt with, such as:

• Service times
• Connecting programs (e.g. children's ministry or adult classes)
• Parking impacts
• Staffing and leadership needs
• Additional volunteer needs
• The best time of the year to start it
• Financial ramifications
• Style of service
• Measurement of success

After you have identified the key issues, then begin to break them down into more detail with specifics that reflect your church. Brainstorm as many solutions as possible to all the issues.

Toward the close of the meeting, assign individuals from the team as point leaders to handle each of the various issues. Each person from the team then gathers a small team to help them get the job done.

5) Write out your communication plan.
Another extensive meeting will be required to establish your communication plan. One of the first steps is to list out the possible objections and the corresponding solutions. (I talk about this in part one of this article.)

Think through and write out your strategy to communicate the change to the congregation. Make sure you know why you are adding the second service. It's important to know whether or not your congregation perceives a need for another service.

Give at least six weeks advanced notice from the pulpit before the launch of the second service. If you are in a small church, don't get fooled by thinking you can do this faster. It's usually a slower process of by-in for smaller churches.

The communication plan includes both verbal and written pieces and the timing of when they are released.

6) Cast vision to the whole church.
Now it's time to go to the whole congregation. Be clear and creative. Let them see your heart. You have, by this time in the process, invested weeks of thought and planning into this effort.

The most important thing is to communicate why you are going to a second service. It is reasonable to have an entire service dedicated to the first vision-casting moment.

Preaching from the book of Acts is a good idea. You might include a funny drama of people climbing over each other to find a seat, or valet parking for the cars because there is no place left to park. Over the next several weeks, after the main vision-casting Sunday mention it every Sunday up to the day it starts.

Remember, a minimum of six weeks from vision-casting morning to launch is necessary.

7) Recruit a pioneer congregation to "seed" the new service.
Gather a good number of people who commit that they will attend this new service. If you have difficulty getting a large enough group, challenge them to be "short term missionaries."

Ask them to attend this new service for one year, then they can return to the original if they want. Or you could try six or nine months if a year seems too long. As your list grows, begin to write them letters of anticipation about how God will bless the church through the second service.

8) Make certain that you plan for both services to be of equal value, importance, and quality.
This is such an important point it is worth mentioning on its own. It is imperative that you make the second service every bit as good as the original service. Don't make it the "second best" service. If you offer full children's ministry for the original service, then offer full children's ministry for the second service.

Don't cut back on music or programming of any kind. Don't make it the "light service." This has been done dozens upon dozens of times, and it backfires.

What seems like a good idea for the "busy" sector of people in your church who want to "get in and out" quickly looks like a service that no one cared enough about to put their best effort into, and the people will soon stop attending.

9) Evaluate the progress and success of your second service.
Meet with the original team who helped design and launch the service for the following meetings (see following schedule) to evaluate and adjust the service according to your objectives. The staff and various volunteer leaders take over from there.

•First four Sundays
•End of 2nd month
•End of 3rd month
•End of 6th month

10) Don't quit too soon.
Too many church leaders give up too soon. They panic under the complaints and pressure of change. They often feel insecure with a smaller crowd and want the "feel good" of a bigger crowd.

Don't give in to that. Go a year before making a decision to back out. Once you retreat, it's very difficult to start again in the future.

Let me encourage you by saying that if you do this right, you won't need to back out. Take your time to do it right, but don't lose momentum. My prayer is that God will bless your endeavor to reach more people for His sake.

This article is used by permission from
Dr. Dan Reiland's free monthly e-newsletter
The Pastor's Coach available at

Author Biography

Dan Reiland
Web site: 12 Stone Church
Dan Reiland is Executive Pastor at 12Stone Church in Lawrenceville, Georgia. He previously partnered with John Maxwell for 20 years, first as Executive Pastor at Skyline Wesleyan Church in San Diego, then as Vice President of Leadership and Church Development at INJOY.

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