We are going to have a shift in worship times for the summer, staring June 3rd and running until August 5th, leading up to a new worship schedule in the Fall. So a 9 week trial period. For those who aren't Type A and immediately put those dates in your planner, don't worry, we'll keep you informed.
The Summer schedule will be:8:30am :: Traditional Worship with child care up to 2nd grade.
9:45am :: Sunday School for everyone (a schedule of room assignments will be given soon)-New Building Tours will be available during this time slot (sign-up here), as are some casual fellowship events, and a "Brunch with the Pastors" that are in the works.
11:00am :: Contemporary Worship with child care up to 2nd grade.
The Fall schedule will be:
8:30am :: Traditional Worship with child care up to 2nd grade and opportunities for adult small groups.
9:45am :: Contemporary Worship, and Sunday School/Small Groups for everyone
11:00am :: Contemporary Worship with child care up to 2nd grade and opportunities for adult small groups.
(8:30am and 11:00am Kinder-7 years will be in Room 105 in the Pre-K wing, if you choose not to bring them to worship. Read below.)
Although everyone has their own preferences, given our mission, vision, values, and feedback, we feel this is the best way to make use of our time, people, and space, and still have options in the future for growth.
How did this come to be?
Through months of listening, gaining feedback, polling, and evaluation, we determined that the 11:30am worship time was not growing past the current averages, and long-term was not the best option to reach our community. It had been established to help form new small groups, due to space limitations (which we started 5 in the last 2 years), and during the summer and with the new building on the horizon, that space is here.
The original plan was to eliminate 11:30 for the summer and move to a different model of small groups for the summer, but we were enthusiastic when we heard from small group leaders about their momentum and desire to keep building relationships, so we didn't want to ruin what helps us accomplish two of our main 6 goals. We look forward to the small groups continuing to deepen their connections with God and each other regularly throughout the summer, and would invite you to join one and see how great it can be for your spiritual journey.
To maintain the flexibility of worship style choice, get out of church at a more reasonable time, allow me to preach in both services, and look towards the future of what the worship schedule will look like in the fall, I created a proposal to merge the contemporary services and shift everything earlier. I then proceeded to get copious feedback from people and groups I felt represented a large swath of the church, and presented it to Church Council on Monday, May 7th who voted to proceed, with a check-up on July 9th to evaluate further to ensure readiness for the Fall.
Why only one Contemporary worship in the summer?
While regular church attendance has shown to be healthy in multiple ways, it's no secret that summer brings with it more travel and freedom, and sometimes people just like their coffee by the pool. At Creekwood we typically experience an average drop of 55-60 people a Sunday. It doesn't sound like a lot, but it makes for less energy than we're used to. We want to create a festive, united atmosphere this summer as we celebrate our Lord and amp up for August 12th and the estimated Grand Opening/Back to School Sunday.
For those not in small groups, one, you should try one, but two, we are planning some special fellowship/education events during this hour that we'd love for you to come to. We're also offering tours of the new building with Rusty, as you saw the sign-up above.
Plus, one service allows the praise band, the preacher, the media team, the ushers, and lots of other church leadership to breathe a little after an active and exciting year.
Why a dedicated hour for Small Groups?
Creekwood's #1 goal out of Church Council is for all members to regularly be engaged in scripture study. Creekwood's #2 goal out of Church Council is for all members to be involved in a life-giving community of faith (aka a small group, Bible study, or Sunday school). These are important things.
In the Fall, we will nearly max out our space again already, which is an amazing conundrum we have, and speaks to your faithfulness of attendance, participation, and invitation. We will have a room on the main campus (not Lovejoy) for every small group, kid, youth, etc. with about 3-5 rooms to grow (and 5 rooms at Lovejoy). We are bringing back the 9:45am service in the Fall as a time preference for what I found was a viable crowd AND an opportunity to start small groups, and kids' ministry if necessary and viable, at 11:00 or 8:30.
Another challenge and blessing for Creekwood is that many of our ministries and groups are mixed across worship style. If we did not have the main hour in-between both styles, groups such as confirmation, children, youth, and many of our small groups would not enjoy the same flexibility and choice that I know we all typically desire, and would dilute the critical mass in those groups that are just as vital as worship to our spiritual development. This great mix that we have also inhibits us from doing a schedule that prohibits the mixing.
Why these times?
Current average worship attendance over the last 2 years is strong comparable to Creekwood's history, but in listening, 12:30pm was too late preferentially for just about everyone to end their church day. Speaking with many young and older families in the Traditional service, it did not appear to be a huge impediment to move to the 8:30am hour for the strength of that service, and so we shifted everything earlier by 30 minutes. Many youth families, especially, reported the desire to worship as a family AND attend a small group/Sunday School, but 12:30pm was just too late, and that was their only option for a contemporary environment. We aim for families to worship together, so that young and older people alike might inspire each other, so this was exciting to hear.
We will be doing some surveying/polling mid-summer to evaluate the efficacy of the Fall plans and these times, so we will welcome your feedback on top of what we've already sought out and received.
Also, let's be honest (and joking), whether you're ending your church day at 9:30, 10:45, or noon, you're going to beat Chase Oaks, Cottonwood Creek, Church 11:32 and many other area churches to the restaurants and see more of the Cowboy game...and isn't that what it's really all about?
What if I don't have a small group?
There's no better time to try one out than this summer. Each small group is open and has plenty of room in their space and hearts for you. Ask Molly Trank or myself for suggestions. And if that doesn't float your boat, consider volunteering to help teach/mentor kids and youth. I will always maintain that there is nothing more fulfilling, rewarding, and challenging (in a good way) than working with those who look up to you, particularly a few years down the road when they tell you what a huge impact you've had.
Why only age 7 for child care during worship?
We've seen the benefits of children engaging in worship with a larger community, even rowdy kids that like to chat. As one author said, "kids making noise in a worship service is not a distraction, it is a sign that we have life!" At traditional and contemporary our usher teams have done a phenomenal job of incorporating kids into the worship setting, and historically kids who attend a larger worship environment consistently throughout their childhood stay connected to church in college and beyond. It's linked to things like "a consistent message that makes them feel at peace," "habit," "connectedness to a larger world than their peers," and "stretching their brains to process what's going on, and the inspiration that comes from learning." We will have a children's time at both worship hours, as well as work in the Fall towards more children and youth engaging in worship leadership.
We increased the age of the child care because we know some parents do not feel comfortable bringing their kids to worship at a young age, for a multitude of reasons, but I'd encourage you, that by age 7-8 they can handle it more than you think they can, and will benefit more than you think they will. No matter how crazy they are. Ask anyone around you, and you'll get the same answer, "the parents are the only ones who care if they're crying."
Additionally, logistically, it has proven difficult for the Children's Team and Wendy to find volunteers for 3 different hours of Sunday School, AND for teachers to have the opportunity to worship with their families. Further offerings at 8:30am or 11:00am are not out of the realm of possibility but would have to be considered viable from a critical mass and volunteer perspective.
What about kids and youth?
Creekwood Student Ministries will meet at 9:45am with the summer interns leading some large group activities each morning before diving into the Word for the day. Come try out the variety from week to week, as Katrina has some tricks up her sleeve!
Kids will do the pre-advertised summer Sunday curriculum at 9:45am around Legos, science, and slime. Seriously, don't you want to be a kid again? Wendy will have other activities for those at 8:30am and 11:00am.
How can I help?
Great question! Thanks for asking. Here's a few ways:
1) Make sure everyone you know, knows about this.
2) Invite people you haven't seen here in a while or new people that you meet. Bribe them with a free donut hole if you want to.
3) Try a small group. They're awesome, deep, meaningful, and fun. Ask Molly Trank or myself for recommendations.
4) Take part in the surveys/polls we will send out near the 3rd/4th week of June. We want to hear from you!
5) Keep being you. We're a pretty amazing church that has accomplished a lot for God's Kingdom. Don't forget that.
6) Show up. Whichever service, whichever small group. We wouldn't be the same church without you, and you aren't the same person without the church.
7) Pray for discernment.
8) Ask Patti Festa if you can help drive the golf cart and pick people up so they don't have to walk as far.
9) Tell Wendy McConney you want to help teach children's Sunday School this summer.
And most importantly:
10) Use more energy than anything else on reaching someone with the good news and love of Jesus Christ. Regardless of when we meet or don't meet, when we joined a church we said we would be emissaries of The Gospel to all people. Let's never forget why we're here.
As always, my inbox, church phone, and door are always open. While I get to make some decisions, this is God's church that we are stewards of it together, and I value your input.Peace,