"In August 1999, Hillside United Methodist Church (UMC) had come to a critical juncture. Located in the rapidly expanding suburbs northwest of Atlanta, we had outgrown even our newly expanded facility. A vision committee debated the purchase of additional space or relocation; but there was little joy or consensus of purpose with these proposals. There was, instead, a sense that the Lord wanted us to do something unique and “out of the box.”
Recently here in North Alabama, I met with 7 successful church planters who are now 5- 10 years or more outside their initial launch. We were designing a training strategy for our annual conference. We are committed to starting 26 or more new faith communities a year, so we wanted a dynamic and relevant track for raising up and training future planters.
So we started with this big question and it led to a flurry of discussion and ideas. Here were the nuggets that came from our discussion:
Lyle Schaller, widely respected church consultant and diagnostician, has said: “Half of all the churches in America should begin a new worship service. And 80% of them will experience new growth as a result.”i
How does a church successfully begin a new service? Doing it right the first time is important because if the process is unsuccessful (for whatever reason) you won’t get permission to try again for another four to five years—longer than the tenure of most pastors in one church.