Sunday, August 27, was the start of a new tradition at First United Methodist Church in Canyon, Texas. It was the start of something beautiful in the life of the church. It was the start of something rarely seen in our Conference, and even in our denomination. On this particular Sunday, Canyon FUMC launched a second traditional service.
Yes, you read that right.
Their traditional service had grown to a point where it could grow no more. So, when it came down for making more space for more people, they did what they had to. They started a third Sunday morning worship service.
Pastor Rick Enns shared with us what this process was like.
It started with one of my monthly phone calls with my coach Ken Willard. Our church was going through the Healthy Church Initiative and part of that process was monthly coaching. I don’t even remember how we got on the subject, but I was talking about how our church attendance at our Traditional Service was hovering around 80% of capacity. I’ll never forget the next words that Ken said – “Your church is in a dangerous position!” Then he began to ask a series of questions that I didn’t have answers to – “How many first-time visitors are you getting each week? What are your plans for growth? Have you considered starting another service?”
Ken explained why we were in a dangerous situation. We didn’t have a plan. God was moving in our midst and we weren’t even aware of it. And if we weren’t careful, if we weren’t intentional, we might miss out on an incredible opportunity. Well, that started many more conversations and meetings and Charge Conferences and vision planning, etc.
It became apparent we really weren’t ready. We didn’t have a plan. But to move forward we needed to go through a season of healing and questioning and building of trust. It wasn’t easy, but it was necessary. It’s hard to change and grow. But God was moving and we didn’t want God to move on somewhere else. So we kept at it – slowly (think moving through molasses). But it was good.
After much study we realized that if we were going to grow as a church in worship, it was going to be necessary to start another Traditional Worship Service. That realization came after we looked at our average attendance over the past 10 years and realized that we had been at 70% capacity for the majority of those years. And every once in a while we would jump up to 80% capacity, but then we would drop back down to 70%.
We realized that for our community, 70% capacity in the sanctuary was comfortably full. Anything beyond that is uncomfortable and we won’t grow. One of the challenges we faced though was that our Modern Service was meeting in the Sanctuary and to add another Traditional Service, we would have to move it to our Fellowship Hall. The problem was that the Fellowship Hall needed a lot of work to get it ready to handle a service! So the challenge was we needed to raise money to spend on renovations in the Fellowship Hall in order to start a new Traditional Service in the Sanctuary!
That’s when we went to the Conference Office, and specifically Path One, to ask for assistance for this project. We were blessed that they gave us $40,000 and we were able to raise an additional $20,000 to get this project off the ground. I think they were as excited as we were that our goal was to add another Traditional Service!
So here we are, on the cusp of starting a second Traditional Worship Service and relaunching our Modern Service.
It’s exhilarating and exhausting. It’s terrifying, yet it’s what God is calling us to do. So we are excited. I know many churches are starting new Modern Services, but I don’t know of another church that is starting another Traditional Service. We believe that we are serving a niche here in Canyon. There are many who want Traditional Worship in our community. We are called to do it well and be intentional. I hope you will pray for us!
-Rick Enns, Senior Pastor at FUMC Canyon
A new tradition was created that day. On August 27, 541 people celebrated the launch of a new service together and it doesn’t end there. The four Sunday’s after the launch of the new service, average attendance was 476. To put things in perspective, the average attendance for the same Sunday’s last year was 375.
When it comes down to it, FUMC Canyon’s traditional service was out of space. Thanks to God and the people who constantly seek His wisdom, Canyon was able to make room for more people in a way that the whole NWTX Conference can be proud of.
Pastor Rick Enns and the staff at FUMC Canyon came upon a problem. Pastor Rick is only one person and can’t be two places at once. Watch the video on the right to see how they came up with the idea of Team Preaching and how it is shaping an expanding church body.