Maybe you've already heard by now but in the near future the times for our worship service and Sunday School will be changing. Essentially, we'll be flip-flopping the two ... instead of worship first at 9:30, followed by Sunday School at 11:00 we'll have Sunday School first at 9:30, followed by worship at 10:30. This is actually a much more traditional schedule and sequence than what we've been doing for years.
The obvious question is "why?" There are probably a few other "why" questions that should be answered. Why did we move worship to 9:30 am in the first place? Many years ago we offered two worship services - 8:30 and 10:45 - with the hope that the differing style of the two services would attract more people. That move didn't really pay the dividends we hoped for, rather it merely created more of a divide between our existing people. In God's providence, a tornado necessitated a move out of the sanctuary and into the gym during the summer of 2011. The decision was made to schedule the worship service at 9:30 as sort of a compromise between the two previous times. But during that discussion the Session also developed the conviction that this order of worship first and then Sunday School might have real merit. Worship truly is the most important thing we do as a church and everything else should flow out of it. All our ministries, events, groups, programs, classes, strategies, meetings, service, etc. must be rooted and grounded in our worship and be the natural overflow of it. Community Church can exist without most any and everything we do except worship. Thus, the Session saw value in having it first and allowing all else to flow out of that.
Over the years the Session heard several reasons as to why CPC should change the schedule and have Sunday School first and worship second. Yet all the reasons were aimed to make it easier to do everything else except worship. So why the change now? Is worship no longer so important? Have the elders caved in to special interests? Rest assured the Session has not changed their conviction about worship ... it is, and always will be the most important thing we do as a church and everything else we do must be rooted and grounded in it. Yet I have seen our elders show an increasing willingness to listen, to learn, to adjust, to adapt, and to act while maintaining very solid convictions. In regard to this worship time change the elders are, in fact, asking that we as a congregation actually use a portion of the Sunday School time to better prepare ourselves for our corporate worship.
Also, the elders understand that the current schedule hinders some from participating in worship as they might would otherwise. As it is now, if the service runs a bit too long people get anxious about it cutting into Sunday School time and, as a result, likely zone out during the latter portion of the service. Sunday School teachers are distracted and panicked toward the end of the service thinking they need to rush to their classrooms to prepare to receive their students. Many who want to invite our worship guests to lunch feel frustrated because of the current schedule (guests typically won't want to stay for Sunday School). These and other issues have actually hindered some of our folks from putting a priority on worship. Thus, the Session has decided that a shift is needed to better facilitate the primacy of worship as well as meet the needs of the congregation.
When will it happen? No sooner than September 3, but hopefully on that day. But before it can happen we must find a suitable place for the Ambassadors Sunday School class to meet on a permanent basis. The loose gravel behind the gym makes it difficult for many to walk from their car to their old classroom so they've been meeting in the sanctuary for the past couple of months. The deacons are feverishly working on a few options and will hopefully have this matter resolved soon.
So be listening for the timing of when this worship and Sunday School time flip-flop will happen. And be praying that the people of Community Presbyterian will be better served by this move and be able to better worship our Savior Jesus Christ.