UPDATE FROM THE EXECUTIVE PASTOR
I hope your fall has gotten off to a wonderful beginning. As the third quarter closes, I thought I would give you an update on Aldersgate’s ministry as well as what we’ve learned from the worship survey we sent to you earlier this week.
To date, we’ve heard from about a quarter of our regular Sunday worshippers. Two-thirds of respondents reported feeling positive about the 9:00 and 10:30 times as well as the collaborative format of the service.
Those who previously attended traditional services were by far the most positive. Those who attended traditional services but marked negative were the outlier of all the data. About 10% of respondents were negative with the balance “mixed.” A slightly larger percentage of respondents expressed missing the contemporary service while Sunday school families were evenly split about the 9:00 Sunday school hour working or not working for them.
In how best to proceed, you all were all over the map. Literally, respondents were evenly distributed between going back to 3 services, continuing what we’ve done this summer, and continuing what we’ve done but have 1 contemporary and 1 traditional service.
In a nutshell, we’ve learned that while there is consensus about offering two Sunday services, there is not consensus about how to arrive at such an offering. This lack of consensus and clarity is one of the reasons we intended this only as an experiment so that we could receive feedback and assess (even though some of you, bless your heart, used the comments section to accuse us of having a pre-determined agenda…we’ll talk about that in a later letter from me).
Moving forward, we will provide the survey results to our Leadership Team, who will form a task force of lay leaders and members to study and propose next steps for a summer ’18 worship experiment when attendance is down, choirs are out, and music staff away.
Starting Sunday, October 15 we will return 3 Sunday services per Aldersgate’s norm with a slight change: 8:30, 9:30, and 11:00. Starting worship at the quarter hour has always seemed odd to our visitors so we will use this disruption in our normal schedule to reset worship to more intuitive times for outsiders. Children’s Sunday school classes will be held during the 9:30 service. The 3-to-3’s will continue at 11:00.
One of the frequent comments in the survey was how you appreciated the variety of music in the Common Liturgy format. We’d like to do something with that feedback. Moving forward, we will be encouraging our music staff to offer more Common Liturgy type offerings at 11:00 and we will work to make 8:30 more truly traditional and high church, similar to worship the way John Wesley would have done it.
Again, we thank you for your patience, trust in your leaders, and your willingness (most of you!) to try new experiences.
ODDS & ENDS
• Attendance in the third quarter was up from previous years’ third quarters. The Common Liturgy experiment piqued your curiosity. Attendance for the fall kick-off and the period after was off by 20 people compared to 2016; however, you will recall September 11 fell on a Sunday last year and was the 15th Anniversary of 9/11.
• Revenue for the third quarter was $40,000 less than the third quarter in 2016. The bulk of this amount is attributable to some key families who moved over the summer. We continue to add new givers but their giving begins at a lower threshold. Year-to-date revenue, meanwhile, continues to track, by a few thousand dollars, with the average of the previous 5 years.
• Our new youth director, Ahnna Lise, has hit the ground running. She’s doing a grand job of rebuilding the infrastructure for our youth program and has assembled a core group of youth and parents invested in the program. About 50 youth, across her programs during the week, are presently engaged.
• In doing the charge conference reports (charge conference will be held on October 15), I noticed this encouraging statistic. Aldersgate has done 22 baptisms thus far this year, and 4 of those baptisms were adult baptisms. That Aldersgate is a place where adults are captivated by the faith such that they are willing to confess the faith and be baptized is a key sign of the church’s vitality.