This past Sunday, we enjoyed the first of our Simple Sundays—a service that we are planning to host once a month, replacing our regular service of worship for that Sunday.
Before describing what Simple Sunday is, it is worthwhile considering why Simple Sunday has come about.
Why Simple Sunday?
During the latter half of last year, it became apparent that we were struggling to find enough volunteers to host our usual Sunday service.
In Refuge (on a Sunday) there are 9 different areas of service: set-up, sound & slides, hospitality, pre-service prayer, opening the service, worship, kids, preaching, prayer ministry, That's 9 different areas of service—requiring in the region of 15 volunteers.
At present, Refuge has in the region of 35 adults who are regular attenders. This means that we require 43% of our regular attenders to serve each and every Sunday, for which we are incredibly grateful. In many ways this situation is good. God calls His people to servanthood. We are to serve each other sacrificially with the gifts that God gives us. One avenue for serving each other is at church on a Sunday.
Nevertheless, there are challenges associated with having so many people serve and serving so often. Church should be deeply restful—our experience of church should involve our spirits being refreshed by God having worshipped Him.
However, for those responsible for set-up of the church, Sunday at Refuge begins at 0830 and ends around 1300 (4.5hrs). Furthermore, there are some people on our rota consecutively for 4 or 5 weeks—an exception being Allan who is on the rota every single week!
The feedback that the leadership have received is that the existing situation may not have been sustainable for many of those who serve at Refuge.
So, these are some of the catalysts for why Simple Sunday came about.
What is Simple Sunday?
Once a month, we wanted to retain what we considered were the essential elements of church—and at the same time create a service that was simpler, one that required less people to serve. So, Simple Sunday will still fundamentally be a service of worship—and together we’ll worship God: through the praising of His name in song; through the hearing of His Word preached; in partaking of the Lord’s Supper; and praying corporately. Of course, we will still fellowship together before and after the service.
What is different is that:
1. We have a pared down set-up that doesn’t require the screen and projector
2. Someone won’t need to be on the laptop or sound desk
3. We’ll have only two people lead us in praising God
4. We’ll only have coffee and tea available
5. We won’t have prayer ministry during the second worship set
(although that doesn’t mean we can’t pray for each other after the service)
6. The person leading worship will open the service up
7. Those who serve on kids won't be required to prepare a lesson that particular week
(albeit they can choose to do so)
A Simple Sunday will require between 5 and 6 people to serve rather than 15
In many ways, the situation Refuge finds itself in is slightly unusual—and hopefully temporary.
We are a new church without our own building. If we had our own building we would need less people serving and it would be less burdensome for some of those who do serve. (Not that this should be the chief motivation for seeking a building.)
We’re also a relatively small church. As we grow, God willing, we will have more people with God-given gifts and hearts to serve—meaning folks serve less often on a Sunday. (Not that this should be a motivation for growth.)
Simple Sunday itself affords an opportunity for reformation—as we seek to pare away the superfluous, our focus can be directed to what is absolutely essential, indeed the chief end of mankind: the worship of our risen, living God!