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Start a New Service to Reach New People

August 5, 2014
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Start a New Service to Reach New People

January 2008, as I assumed this job, I began asking other State Music Directors to recommend effective resources to me. Charles Arn’s book “How to Start a New Service” (Baker Books, 1997) came highly recommended from several. Based on three years of research, this book has a wealth of practical advice to offer us. It has become the major source for one of my primary strategies for our Worship & Music office. Allow me to share some of its primary points with you:

  • 80% of congregations that start a new service will find that their overall attendance increases by at least 10 percent.
  • Imagine the impact of one hundred SC Baptist churches each adding one new service.
  • Offering only one service, at one time, on one day of the week, with one style, says to your community:  “This is your choice – take it or leave it.” Guess what most will do?
  • Over a 50 year cycle, churches tend to increase during their first 20 years, plateau for about 20 years then begin to decline. Churches that have broken out of this predictable life cycle reflect a stair step pattern of growth. How do they break the decline? Growing churches discover “intervention events” which cause new life cycles before decline sets in. Starting a new service is a very good intervention event when pursued in an effective process.
  • If a church’s major purpose is to preserve fellowship or tradition, it should not consider starting a new service. If your church is growing and is running at 60% to 80% of worship capacity, it should delay starting a new service until attendance reaches 80%. But, if present attendance is less than 60% or more than 80%, your church should consider starting a new service immediately. The new service will not hurt your total attendance.
  • Your church’s location, size, or resources should not keep you from starting a new service unless attendance is less than 50.
  • We are not promoting a certain style of worship for a new service. The style must be determined by the cultural context of YOUR community and those God is calling YOUR CHURCH to reach in your community. There is no “cookie cutter” format or style that is guaranteed to work.
  • It is imperative that your church form a New Service Steering Committee to guide the prayer, research, marketing, recruitment, and launch for a new service. The Committee should be representative of a cross section of your church including all ages and giftedness. Prayer must be their main methodology! And they must work hard to involve the whole congregation in support of the New Service start.

Interested in learning more? Call on me to meet with your leadership and present the research and process for “Starting a New Service to Reach New People”.  I would be thrilled to do so!

Mark Powers is director of the Worship & Music Office at the South Carolina Baptist Convention. You can contact Mark at or 803.227.6166.

Written by Mark Powers, Worship & Music Director

Keywords: new , worship , service , start , charles , ard , contemporary worship , contemporary , worship planning


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