So, for those who are hearing about this for the first time, I thought this would take some explaining. It’s probably best to tell you what we are doing and then tell you why: On February 1, 2020 , we moved our worship service from Sunday morning to Saturday evening at 5:30. Yes…live from North Haledon…It’s Saturday Night!
Over the last few years we have noticed we have been getting fewer visitors to our Sunday morning worship service as well as a slow but steady decline of our attendance. So we revisited an idea my wife Susan had a few years back but that I had initially dismissed: Why not switch to a Saturday evening service? Well, I had several reasons why back then but when we began our discussion about it recently those reasons did not seem to be as valid or as important. Additionally, I was thinking very narrowly in that I thought we had to have both Sunday morning and Saturday night. We did not then and do not now have the man power to do both. But we started to ask…why not just one…just Saturday night? The more we asked the more we didn’t have a good reason. Sure, it wasn’t what we were use to and we would have to develop a new weekend rhythm but that paled in comparison to the potential of reaching new people and introducing them to Jesus and His kingdom. The potential possibility for new ministry opportunities was very exciting. So we brought it to our Leadership Team to pray about it and to discern hearing God’s voice. We had been (and still are) reading through Ruth Haley Barton’s book Pursing God’s Will Together which helps develop a process for hearing God speak into your life and your decision making. After two weeks of prayer and seeking the Lord the Leadership Team came back in full support. They thought we should do a four month experiment and then decide at the end of four months which direction we should move in. The next step was getting the approval from our Church Board to do this. The Church Board was completely on board (I wrote that on purpose) and only asked that we inform all of the congregation individually or in small groups and answer any questions they might have. We did that and now we are in the preparation stage for the shift to Saturday nights.
I was reflecting on the story of Jesus, shortly after His resurrection, when He spots some of His disciples fishing in a boat. He asks them if they had caught any fish and they responded that they had not. So He suggested to them to throw their nets on the other side of the boat. These proud fisherman probably felt insulted and frustrated that this stranger (they did not, at this point, realize that it was Jesus). But they had nothing to lose and did as He suggested and sure enough there was a miraculous catch of fish. More than they could even bring in.
It just seems sometimes, you have to cast your nets on the other side. On the other side of the boat….and maybe, in our case, the other side of the day.
There are pros and cons, of course. We are pretty familiar with them. But they are not, on either side, the determining factors. The determining factor is that we believe this is where God is prompting us to go. We believe God is leading this and that there will be many great opportunities to bring the love of Christ in new ways to a wider array of people. In the cold bleakness of winter we will be having a re-birth of sorts. We will be bringing Light into the darkness, warmth into the cold, hope in the midst of a winter’s yearning. We are excited.