New Fall Gathering Times: 9am, 11am, and *5pm* (Help needed!)
The fall brings with it a certain freshness, doesn’t it? Fresh rain, fresh colors, fresh starts, a fresh school year, and (for us) fresh gathering times. On Sunday, October 22nd, we will be refreshing our gathering times in two noteworthy ways.
Moving our 11:15am gathering to 11:00am.
Adding a 5:00pm evening gathering on Sundays.
Therefore, I am writing to answer common questions, and alleviate any concern, that these changes may lead to. Some of us love and embrace change, while others run from it. The former is not “good” and the latter “bad”—just different—and our hope is that the entire church feels cared for in this important transition.
These shifts are a tremendous evidence of God’s grace and provision to us. Let’s rejoice together and prayerfully approach this next season with expectation. Please know that your pastors, deacons, and leaders are available if you have any questions. So, with that, let’s turn to the questions:
Q: When will the new gathering schedule be again?
Starting Sunday, October 22nd, our gathering times will be at 9:00am, 11:00am, and 5:00pm.
Q: Why are we adding a 5pm gathering?
There are three primary reasons. First, most simply, we are consistently out of room in the morning. Just this past Sunday we had nearly 720 in attendance, which included overflow at the 11:15am. We don’t want anyone to feel hindered from learning about Jesus or connecting with his people. Second, we want to create another option for those who work Saturday nights and/or Sunday mornings, or are out of town over the weekend. This has been a frequent request. Third, while our preference would be to have everyone gathered at the same time, the hard reality is that our building size is limited. So, for all these reasons, we’re starting a 5pm gathering.
Q: Why are we shifting the 11:15am to 11:00am?
We’re shifting the 11:15am to 11:00am for two primary reasons. First, the shift is for clarity. Many already refer to the 11:15am as the “11.” So, we think this is wise for the sake of clarity. But, more importantly, we hope to provide more options for our families. Cornerstone Kids is regularly full during the 9am. There have even been a few occasions where a family is turned away. We need to fix that. So, we hope starting the gathering just a little earlier will shift some families from the 9am to the 11am and, therefore, create more balance between the two.
Q: Will we be able to start the second gathering at 11:00am given the length of our gatherings?
Yes, we have been experimenting over the last couple months to see what it would take to make this a feasible option. We have found that it is not difficult to achieve if we start on time and are mindful of the flow of our gatherings.
Q: What are the benefits of going to three gatherings?
There are many benefits of going to three gatherings given where we are as a church. First, three gatherings will open up more seats and, therefore, more space for people to know, and grow, in Jesus. Second, three gatherings will create smaller gatherings where we can actually recognize and get to know those around us more easily. Third, three gatherings will create more options for Sunday worship and, therefore, greater flexibility. Fourth, three gatherings will ensure that no one needs to miss a gathering because they are volunteering. Fifth, three gatherings will give more people the opportunity and joy of stepping out in faith to volunteer and serve in significant ways. Sixth, moving to three gatherings will prepare us for a similar dynamic that will take place when we send out our first church plant. All told, this is a really good move for us.
Q: Will there be Cornerstone Kids available at the 5pm?
Yes. Initially, Cornerstone Kids will only be available for children up to 2 years old. We expect this to grow as more volunteers arise.
Q: Why don’t we start a new church instead of starting a new gathering?
We would love to plant a new church. We still plan to, Lord willing, many times over. We just don’t have anyone ready to lead a plant (yet). However, we are actively training, saving money, and praying to that end. It’s only a matter of time. If you’re interested, talk to me.
Q: Who will be preaching and leading in song at each gathering?
The current plan is for the same preacher to preach all three Sunday gatherings. The plan for music is to continue what we are currently doing in the morning, but have a more stripped-back band in the evening until more musicians arise.
Q: What will be different about each gathering?
Generally speaking, apart from the Spirit moving otherwise, the overall flow and feel of each gathering will be similar.
Q: Will we have enough volunteers?
Given that we just announced this change, we still have significant volunteer needs. In fact, we need 50 new volunteers! If you call DCC your church, we highly encourage you to participate in the life of the family by serving in some capacity. Please visit www.downtowncornerstone.org/5pm to sign up.
Q: What if I currently volunteer in the morning but would like to shift to helping at the evening?
That would be great! Just let your current team lead know and sign up via the link above. We expect there to be some shuffling across teams and gatherings.
Q: Will this hurt our attendance, or lose momentum, by going to three gatherings?
No, actually, in time we expect the opposite.
Q: Won’t this create three churches in the same building? Will we lose unity?
No. We are one church that will now gathers across three different times, on the same day, in the same building. The reason we exist is to build a great city, through the gospel of Jesus Christ, for the glory of God. That is not changing. We will remain vigorously Jesus-centered, gospel-saturated and Spirit-led. We will remain committed to declaring the gospel (in word) and displaying its implications (in deed). We will remain primarily focused on people. We will continue to put our energies into cultivating disciple-making disciples. In a word, we are still DCC, just with more opportunities to worship with one another on Sunday.
Q: Where will I park for the 5pm?
The parking lots next to the building will be available for anyone to park in, with overflow parking being validated at the Art Institute garage. Street parking is, of course, also an option.
Q: “But I won’t see the same people any more?!”
There’s truth to this. We won’t see all of the same people any more on Sunday. But, here’s the question: isn’t this already happening? It is for me. I rarely get to talk to everyone I want to on any given Sunday. There are just too many great people to talk too. But, per above, creating three smaller gatherings will actually enhance, not diminish, our ability to be in relationship with one another. Even more, a major function of our Cornerstone Communities is to create smaller, consistent relationships around Jesus, his Word and his call to live sent lives together. If you’re not yet in a community, now could be a good time to make that transition.
I am humbled by Jesus’ goodness to us. I hope you are too. He doesn’t have to provide for us, but He is. He doesn’t have to draw people to DCC, but he is. Let’s revel in His grace during this season. It doesn’t have to be “business as usual” so let’s pray and labor to that end. Let’s ask Him to do something only He could do here, for the glory of his name, and the joy of our entire city.
For Jesus’ Fame,
P.S. Don’t forget. We’re shifting to 9am, 11am, and 5pm on Sunday, October 22nd. You can sign up to help here: www.downtowncornerstone.org/5pm.