I’d like to describe for you the life and times of the mid-week Wednesday night service at The Pilgrimage.
Our small house church gathering is currently in year three. Sundays are our main thing like most churches, but we added a Wednesday evening service about halfway into our first year. I mainly decided to start the Wednesday meetings because one of our members wanted more instruction time. He wasn’t even a Christian when he asked for this, so I felt like we really needed to do it, even if it was just me and him that showed up. We started meeting at a brand new Starbucks every Wednesday at 7pm. It was great and, although the drinks were expensive, it was fun bonding over fresh fancy coffee drinks, teas, and pastries. We averaged 5-10 people each time.
Neat addendum to that story. My friend that requested the additional service that wasn’t a Christian at the time. Later on, it was on the patio at this same Starbucks that he told me he’d given his life to Christ and become a Christian.
Then we outgrew the Starbucks. It got to the point that unless we always got the big seating area up front that there wasn’t enough room for us. Believe me, this was an awesome problem to have. So, we moved one block down and started meeting at Denny’s. The staff there was very welcoming and basically gave us our own section on Wednesday nights. Now, along with a Bible study, we all ate dinner together as well. It was great, and we formed relationships with all the waitresses.
We started working through the Success Principles by Jack Canfield. Each week we’d cover one of the principles, coupled with Scriptural references, and some discussion time. I really enjoyed the process. It was one that had begun years earlier with a friend of mine. He and I would meet and go over the principles in much the same way.
For a while attendance was just our regular crew, still averaging 5-10. We seldom had any visitors. Then the attendance started dwindling.
I could blame it on a lot of things…lack of participation, poor commitment, shifted priorities, hated the current study, disliked me, had to work, went to prison, scheduled a yoga class at the same time, got sick, friends or family in town, whatever. The result was the same. This year, our third year as a church, only nine Wednesday meetings into the year, and I’d guess that for more than half of them it’s just been me and my wife. No one else is coming out, and it just feels like it’s easier for people to find reasons not to bother.
Even though we’re not a traditional church bound to the mid-week service, we seem to be following the same trend as most normal churches. People get busy. Church just isn’t as important as it used to be. There’s better, shinier stuff to do. That’s why I’m making the decision to cancel our Wednesday night meetings and moving on to something else.
Don’t think that means I’m quitting, though. I still feel like there’s a need for something beyond the Sunday morning service to reach people, but this just isn’t it. I’ll start experimenting with different places, days, and times. Maybe a smaller gathering back at the Starbucks is needed. Maybe we tried to expand too soon. Maybe instead of going somewhere and inviting the people, I’ll go where the people already are and meet them on their own time and turf. Maybe I’ll still go somewhere on Wednesday evenings and do an office hours type of approach where people can just drop in and out.
Those of you that read this, what’s been successful or unsuccessful about your mid-week gatherings?