We have lived two Sundays in the new schedule. I know that it has been an adjustment for some of us. The praise band has to arrive early to sound check. Many who were accustomed to arriving for Sunday school at 10:15 now arrive at 9:15. Some Sunday school have been divided or discontinued as a result of the change.
Change is never easy. As we grow older, our bodies change (sometimes letting us down). Our kids grow up, move off to college. Friends relocate to different states. We sometimes have the difficult task of saying goodbye to friends and loved ones as they pass away. Yet we are required to change in life. As God leads us, we respond to his movement. Many times He calls us to adjust. And as we adapt, we experience transformation that would not be possible without change.
As we enter our first full month of our new Sunday morning schedule, allow me to remind you why and how we discerned the need for this change. Conversation began among leaders in November regarding the need for an adjustment of our Sunday morning schedule. We found that the Sunday school hour was inadequate as far as time for most classes. By the time people arrived for Sunday school, talked a bit and began the lesson, it was time to dismiss. Many classes found themselves with less than 30 minutes. Late worship service included less than half of its participants at the beginning of the service. Many were still in Sunday school and were unable to make it into the sanctuary on time. We’re not sure how we needed to change or even if we needed to change the schedule at all.
We began an intentional Process of Discernment around the issue. This process included a time of exploration of options, a period of listening (which included outside information, people in the congregation, and prayerful consideration of the leading of the Spirit). We then examined the issue in light of our listening. There was an incredible unity among the leaders around the solution. Church leaders then brought the draft schedule to the congregation in January. Everyone was given an opportunity to ask questions, share opinions and discuss the ramifications of the change. Through a consensus vote, the congregation affirmed the discerning of the leaders.
I am not sure if you find the new schedule appealing. Maybe you think it is great; maybe you are having a hard time adjusting. In time, we will discover the benefits and liabilities of this change. For now, we trust that our careful discernment was not in vain. We trust that God has led us to this place.
As we make decisions in the future, I hope that we will take the necessary time to discern the leading of the Spirit. Our decisions must not be based on personal preference (or what we perceive is best for “us”). We must continue to ask God for His will, His desire for how we function. While any process is subject to human error, I have confidence that God will honor our discerning, that He will help us navigate the decisions that we must make as a congregation as we submit our will to His.
If there are concerns that you have regarding the new schedule, please take time to discuss the matter with church leaders. God may lead us to make further adjustments. Our discerning never ends; we continue with open ears as we participate in congregational life under the Spirit’s leading.