A number of years ago a friend emailed me and asked my advice about whether or not I thought his church should start a Saturday night service.
Lots of pastors routinely weigh whether or not this is a good move, and rightly so. I thought I’d share what I told him. It’s the same advice I share with Senior Pastors I coach:
Here was our experience in a nutshell:
1. We surveyed pastors for one full year about Saturday night services and decided to launch one in December. We killed it in April, four and a half months later.
2. The service was reaching 150 people (we ran 800+ in the other three), but 95% of them were CCV transfers from Sunday morning to Saturday night. Of those people who switched services well over 1/3 of them STILL came to Sunday morning.
3. We cast vision for one year, recruited a massive team of incredible volunteers to pull it off, and sunk $ into direct-mail and signs to advertise it. We gave it EVERYTHING WE HAD.
4. Everyone told us that if you are going to be successful you had to offer the IDENTICAL programs you offer on Sunday mornings, so we offered a full kids’ and teen program identical to our Sunday service. Everything was the same.
5. Personally I hated life more during the four months we did Saturday night services than any other time during our church’s six year history. It robbed a day from my work week because we made Monday a mandatory day off. Saturdays with my family were gone. Over. Outta here. I had to cut out of everything at noon.
That one service began to trap staff and volunteer families into the internal orbit of the church like a black hole. My personal evangelism began to suffer. We gave staff weekends off to compensate for their weekends being completely ripped off from them, but then we noticed a severe lack of continuity between programming and the overall quality of the services and kids’ programs. Everything suffered: The quality of our programs; the morale of our staff and volunteers; my overall attitude toward the church.
6. If I had seen measurable data that showed the Saturday night service was a killer outreach venue I would have given it much, much longer to play out, but we couldn’t see any progress toward that goal, so it became a HUGE relief to our staff when one day I stood up before everyone and said, “Does anyone else besides me think this Saturday night service was a really stupid idea?”
7. The decision to launch a Saturday night service was one of my worst decisions made here at CCV. My decision to kill it was one of my best.
8. We have adopted Andy Stanley’s philosophy here: Never, as long as we have other viable alternatives, will we ever have a Saturday night service. The value we have on caring for our staff and volunteers takes precedence over adding a few more people to our aggregate worship attendance.
What are your thoughts about Saturday night services?