Let’s talk Saturday services. There’s a trend in growing churches looking to make room for more congregation to add a service on Saturday night. You filled up your Sunday morning schedule, filled all your possible venues. So you need another worship service. It seems like a no brainer. Just add that service to the day before. Wait, let’s talk about this.
This is Part 1 of a 3-Part series about Saturday Services.
When I was self employed, and not on church staff, my family (with young children) chose to attend on Saturdays when we could. The difference between rushing to get ready on Sunday morning and having the entire day before the service was amazing. Attending a later service was a totally different experience, and one we really liked. I can see the appeal.
Plus Saturdays offer alternate worship times for people who work service industry jobs. These folks often have to work weekends, but the normally don’t have to work Saturday evening and Sunday morning. So offering morning and later service options gives them a real chance to attend. Sounds perfect, right?
I worked at a church that had a Saturday service for years. There are some things I know about now that I wish we had talked about before we started it. There are some serious issues to consider before launching that extra service on a different day.
When I was at a church doing Saturdays, we had a 5000 seat worship center (and other spaces used for services) that I was told cost almost $1000 to cool/power for a day. Just turning on the lights and AC for a Saturday service cost upwards $50,000 annually. Not to mention the additional labor cost for staff and cleaning crew. No matter how large or small your budget, that’s lot of money. Your venue may not be that big, but there will be a noticeable cost for an additional day of facility use.
In addition, the venue used for the service is tied up. No more conferences or events that run through Saturday. Unless you have a crazy turn around time for the service. More than once the staff and volunteers had to turn the room in just a couple of hours. Worship ministries had to make adjustments in programming to accommodate the stage layout after an event. A weekend service was impacted. Are you ready to tie up a large venue for the entire day, every week?
I recently heard from a staff member at a church that had started a Saturday service a few weeks before. He felt like he was never going to get his weekend back. And he’s probably right. A 6 day work week, especially when handling other/extra events, quickly becomes unsustainable. For us, it was easier to staff services with volunteers on Sunday than Saturday. We ended up using several staff members on Saturdays in spots that volunteers could fill on Sundays. I eventually started taking every 3rd Sunday off. But I was still working 17 out of 21 days.
It’s easy to dismiss this. I mean, it’s a couple of hours on a Saturday, right? The staff already only works a “half day” on Sunday.
To prepare for the Saturday service the staff executing the service will arrive several hours early. I used to show up 3 hours or so before the service started. We would go over the service, make sure gear worked and the content was right. Then we were in rehearsals. Next the actual service. Then, if we were lucky, we went home. If not, we made changes and then went home. 5-6 hours. Even though we only did one service, it felt like a whole Sunday.
When we got home, wired from the night’s stress, we tried to sleep. The alarm went off way too early and we headed back in to do it all over again. 2-3 hours before the first morning service begins the staff making that service happen is checking everything for the morning. This is even harder if the services are different from the night before. 5-6 hours later it’s time to go home and crash. And pray there isn’t a Sunday evening event or service.
It’s not just a couple of extra hours on a Saturday. It’s an extra day of stressful work. When you add a service to another day you are adding a lot of work. Burnout is a real thing. You have to take care of your staff and volunteers.
Saturday’s Can Become Rehearsals for Sunday
Saturdays are often less well attended than Sundays. Many times the services are less formal, and just feel looser than Sundays. That gives leadership the chance to try things in a smaller environment. Test it out. We’ll use this illustration tonight to see how it works. Roll this video and see if it resonates. Sing this song and see if it engages.
It’s natural and good for leadership to make changes after a Saturday service, going into the next day. Cut what doesn’t work. Change things up to make it better. You have the time to improve the experience. But be very careful about the balance of importance between Saturday and Sunday services. Saturday worship services are not rehearsals for the big day. They are worship services. Rehearsals should happen earlier in the week. God deserves more than a run through, and your people will stop coming to a Saturday service if it is obvious that Saturdays are less important than Sundays.
What are some other reasons to not do a Saturday service?
What if you still want to do a Saturday service? How can you do it well without killing your staff and volunteers?