These three types of practice services will help ensure that you launch well.
You are getting ready to launch your church plant. You have done the difficult work of casting vision, raising support, finding a venue space and gathering people for your core team. You are ready to start having services but are toying with the idea of having a rehearsal just to make sure all your ducks are in a row. Should you invite people to this rehearsal? Should your team and their families come? Should you take up an offering?
Here are a few steps that you can take to ensure your church plant launches well.
1. Prayer Services
Consider holding a prayer service for your launch team. This service is a full “dress rehearsal” for your team that includes almost everything except volunteers. Since no one is attending the service other than the team, it is not necessary to go through aspects of the service like greeting newcomers or taking up offering.
2. Practice Services
Practice services are a full “dress rehearsal” for everyone, including your volunteers, greeters and ushers. However, instead of inviting everyone you know to this service, consider just inviting your launch team’s families to your practice service.
The practice service is a valuable opportunity for your launch team to practice their roles while being, literally, amongst family. Your service should also include the children’s leaders who will run the children’s ministry like you have planned.
You most likely do not need more than one practice service since your preview services are essentially also practice runs. The practice service is to help you work out finer details. The service may also help you discover big holes that need to be filled before you move on to your preview services. For example, you have forgotten to order the children’s ministry curriculum you wanted to use.
3. Preview Services
Preview services give you a foretaste of things to come for your church plant but may not give you the entire picture. You expect people who attend to check out “what all the buzz is about,” but they may not be committed to staying. On the other hand, you can expect to have others who come and are interested in joining.
Attempt to have your weekly volunteer rotation in place during these preview services so that your volunteers are not serving week after week. However, it would be helpful to keep in mind that there may be an influx of people coming and going to your preview services. Thus, it may not give you the most accurate picture of how many volunteers you need to have at each service.
Though it may be somewhat frustrating to not have an accurate picture of the size of the congregation, preview services are a great time to invite those who you know will not continually come to take a look. For example, invite friends and neighbors that attend a different church to come and offer their feedback.
You may also benefit from inviting other pastors in your area to preview your service and offer feedback. This invitation would be a great opportunity to establish good relationships with the other churches in the community that you serve.
Adapted from the New Churches Q&A Podcast Episode 342: The Differences Between Preview and Practice Services. Click here to subscribe and listen to more church planting, multisite and multiplication tips.