Adding a Third Service, Part 1: How it Affects the Preach’r

This is part one of a multipart series of personal reflections related to adding a 3rd service at Portage Free Methodist Church, where I serve as Lead Pastor.  Our third Sunday Worship service launches on September 7, 2014. 

About 9 months ago, we sensed that God was calling PFM to make room for more without laying a single brick.  The easiest (and only) way to do that is to add another service.  Adding another service allows us to reach people that aren’t currently part of a church.  Starting that service at 12:00 noon reaches those who are up until 3am on Saturday night.

There are reasons not to add a 3rd service.  There are reasons to add a 3rd service.  The reasons to outweigh the reasons not to, plus, as I mentioned, we feel like God is leading this thing.  So… we’re stepping out on a limb.  The only thing that gives us courage is God’s presence and guidance to this point.

Therefore, I will preach three times every Sunday morning.  Same (sorta) message, three different times.

I love to preach.  I do.  Preaching is a blessing.  Preaching is a drain.  If you’re really throwing yourself into it and preaching your guts out (as my friend Barry advised me to do), you’ll be a wet rag by the end.

A few people have asked me how I’m going to do three services in a row.  Three sermons in one Sunday!  Can it be done?  Will I make it?   Granted, it takes a lot of energy — physical, emotional, spiritual — to do a sermon.  And no, I’m not naive enough to think that it will be easy.  I do not think I am superhuman, nor do I think that I can somehow defy the laws of physical exertion by sheer willpower.  I am glad people are concerned, because it means that they recognize that this will require some oomph.

Maybe some people are worried that I’ll just fall asleep every Sunday around 12:30, between points, mid transition, like a robot toy that finally wound down.  There are some mitigating circumstances that should dissuade any fears of my longevity on Sundays.  Look!  I’ve made a list of reasons:

1) Have you noticed how much coffee I drink?

2) Doing three in a row is easier than doing one, then taking a 45 minute break (Sunday School) and then amping up again for second service.  Plus, coffee.

3) Maybe I’ll get it right by the third time.  In reality, all three should be quite similar in content, perhaps different in approach. Same meat, different seasoning.  Actually, funny story: I read someplace that preaching is like having a baby on Sunday and finding out you’re pregnant on Monday!  (Sorry…that was the funny part.)  Seriously, though — some of the most coherent sermon thoughts in my head occur Monday morning around 7:30am.

4) Let’s not forget about the coffee consumption.  As my Brazilian friends say:  cafe’ forte!

5) Since third service will be more laid back, I can always shrug my shoulders and say “but…anyway…”, which will give me a moment to collect my thoughts.

Okay.  Okay.  That’s enough.   While the above reasons have perhaps some legitimacy, let’s not pretend that I can actually do this.  We all know that unless this thing is powered by the Holy Spirit, it’ll flop like a bass fish in a bass fishing boat.  I believe God is calling us to do this that I trust God to empower me to somehow have the energy to pull it off.  He’s God — He can do that.  He already gives me the energy to do 2 services, proving Himself faithful time and again.  Like Jesus says in John 15 — apart from me, you can do nothing.  That’s true.

I say bring it on — both the challenge and the power of the Holy Spirit.

 

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