Sunday Night Worship//Frequently Asked Questions
Based on what God has done and is doing at Harris Creek, we have decided it is time to take a step of faith and launch a second worship service. There may be a lot of questions surrounding this new service, so we have created a “Frequently Asked Questions” sheet to provide answers for many of your questions. Then there are some questions that don’t have answers yet because we are still in the planning phase. We would love for you to help us answer those questions. As far as what we do know, here is a list of our “Frequently Asked Questions” and our answers to those questions:
Why do we feel called to do this? The simple answer is because our mission statement is “seeking the welfare of the city by transforming individuals through loving God, loving others and serving the world.” We believe this decision helps us live out that slogan and continue to be “externally focused.” This worship service will also give us the ability, for the first time, to seek the welfare of the city from the “inside out” as well as from the “outside in.” Harris Creek’s physical location has hindered us at times from being as effective as we would like to be in reaching the city.
Why do we feel called to do this right now? Harris Creek is in a season of unprecedented strength in our 130-plus year history. The desire to launch a downtown location has been on the hearts of our leadership for years, but it was never the right time. We feel like circumstances have changed and we are now strong enough to follow through with this vision. Also, there have been many logistical pieces fall into place that could not have been orchestrated on our own. All signs seem to indicate this is the right time to go forward with this worship service.
When will this service take place? We are planning on the service being on Sundays at 5:30 p.m. The first service will launch on August 21.
Where will this service be held? It will take place in downtown Waco at a venue called “The Palladium.” The Palladium is located at 729 Austin Avenue, directly across the street from the Hippodrome.
How do we plan on paying for this service? We have received a great deal from the owners of the venue, and this new worship service is easily feasible within our existing budget. To say it plainly: The plan for this second worship service is extremely fiscally conservative. We are estimating the cost of this service to be about $15,000 for the year, including startup cost. On top of that, we are currently $48,000 ahead of budget after closing the end of March. Contributions are roughly $40,000 ahead of where we planned to be and expenses are $8000 less than what we have expected so far this year.
Will there be childcare provided? No, there will not be childcare provided at this service. This is due to a number of factors. First, The Palladium does not have a separate space where children could meet. Second, we do not currently have the number of volunteers necessary to offer childcare during this service. We understand that not having childcare may cause some to prefer the current Sunday morning service over this service, though children of all ages will be more than welcome to attend.
How do we plan on setting up for this service every week? This is one of our biggest logistical needs in starting this service. We are planning on our deacon body to head up the effort of setup and tear down. We are also hoping other members will see this as an opportunity to serve the church. One advantage we have in setting up for this service is that The Palladium already has 300 chairs for us to use. This means we will not have to transport chairs on a weekly basis, which is a huge relief. There will, however, be a need to set these existing chairs up, set up the sound and video equipment, and have greeters at this service.
How will this affect my Life Group that meets on Sunday nights? The short answer is it should have no affect on your group at all. We realize this service is not for everyone. We expect most of our groups that meet on Sunday night to continue in their same pattern of attending worship on Sunday mornings and meeting for Life Group on Sunday nights.
Who will be responsible for leading this service? Our normal worship and teaching team will oversee and execute this service. Whoever is preaching on Sunday morning will be preaching on Sunday evenings. Whoever is leading music on Sunday mornings will lead music on Sunday evenings. While this service will, by design, feel somewhat different because of the environment, this is not a “church plant” or a “Sunday night Bible study.” This is a second worship service.
What will this service look like? As much as it is possible, we are planning to duplicate what we do on Sunday mornings at this second service. There may be a few tweaks to the service flow to fit the environment, but overall it will be very similar to our Sunday morning services. While we do not anticipate (and would actually discourage people from) people attending both our Sunday morning and Sunday night services, this will give people opportunities to come Sunday night if they missed Sunday morning.
Who do we intend to reach with this service? We, obviously, are not sure who will attend, but we believe first and foremost this worship service will reach people two groups of people: (1) People who don’t want to drive to McGregor to go to church and (2) People who are unchurched and don’t want to go to a traditional church setting. Outside of those two groups, we think this service might resonate with college students, young professionals, empty nesters, and those people who might not be comfortable coming into a church for whatever reason. However, we intentionally push back against the idea of “tailoring” services to reach specific demographics. We believe we are called to be who we are and allow our authenticity to resonate with people of all ages and demographics. One hope we do have is that we might become more “culturally diverse” by adding this service downtown. Most churches are not a great representation of the cities they are in because people congregate with others like their selves (age, race, social status, etc.). Our desire is to have Harris Creek become more reflective of Waco, but also be a clearer reflection of the Kingdom of God where all people will be represented.
Who from Harris Creek will attend this service? The short answer is whoever feels called to make this the place where they want to attend corporate worship. We are hoping a few Life Groups will pray about making this the place they worship for the first year to make sure it gets off the ground. We are also hoping individuals will consider making this the place they worship as well. However, there will be many people who decide this service is not for them, and that is ok.
What if I don’t like that I will not get to see everyone on Sunday mornings? Truthfully, we don’t like this fact either. However, the reality is our congregation is quickly moving to a multiple worship service model either way, so this is not a “downtown” issue. Harris Creek has been well over 80% of our capacity for the better part of the last year. It is time to make room for others to join us as we live our lives “on mission.” At the same time, leadership feels confident it is not the time to expand physically or take on a new building project with nearly $2 million in debt still owed on our existing building. So, our only option at this point with the growth we are experiencing is to go to multiple services for the immediate future. We anticipate the possibility of needing to launch another service on Sunday mornings in the not so distant future, as well.
Why don’t we just offer two services at 9 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. at the Stageline location? This comes down to priorities. As we said, we do anticipate needing to launch another service on Sunday mornings in the not so distant future if our growth trends continue. We feel called to take this step first because it has been a vision of the church for years now. Also, we see this primarily as a mission opportunity more than “relief” for our Sunday morning space issues. To be honest, we are not seeking relief from our growth. We want to build upon what God is doing at Harris Creek and be faithful to our mission of “seeking the welfare of the city.” On top of that, we are having a hard time finding enough childcare workers to cover one service with kids at the moment, so we need to keep growing in order to have enough volunteers to serve two hours of worship with childcare.
What if this service fails? This is always a possibility when trying something new. Adding a second service in a different location is not exactly “common” for Waco, Texas. We are praying for uncommon unity in our church as we attempt to follow in faith where we believe God is calling us as a body. At the same time, if we evaluate this service in a year and it completely folds, our response will be, “At least we tried.” We firmly believe this is what God is calling us to do and where He is calling our church to go. Anytime you live a life of faith, there is a chance you can misunderstand God’s voice. There is also a chance God can call you to something that fails to teach you a different lesson. This is a risk we are willing to take in order to advance the Gospel in new ways in our city. We pray you will have the same attitude.
How can I help get this service off the ground? We’re glad you asked. The first answer is the obvious one: “Pray.” While this may be obvious, it is not automatic. We seriously need you to pray for this decision. We need you to pray for those people who might be reached through this service. We need you to pray for the leadership of the church as we venture into unknown territory for our city. We also need you to pray about your role in helping us get this service on the ground. The second thing we need you to do is “Talk.” We need you to help us as we continue to shape what this service will look like. We need you to talk to friends and neighbors around town (especially unchurched ones) about what God is doing at Harris Creek. We also need you to “Consider.” We need you to consider how you might help us in this new effort to reach the lost with the Gospel. Finally, we need you to be “Excited.” Human nature is one to resist change, but we are praying and believe the Spirit can move us past our flesh to provide uncommon unity during this transition. Even if you never step foot in this service, we hope you will be excited about what God is doing in our midst.