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Summer service experiment 2015

Summer Worship Attendance Blog


            This summer we experimented with having one worship service at 10:00 a.m. and then an engagement activity at 11:30 at our Hillcrest campus. Our South Bay campus continued its regularly scheduled worship service at 9:30 a.m. and then also had an engagement activity starting around 11:00 a.m.

            Regarding the experience at Hillcrest - it was great to see such a full Meeting House on Sunday mornings. There was certainly a lot of excitement and a sense of energy on the campus. People enjoyed seeing one another in the summer when they normally wouldn’t during the rest of the year because of our two services. Many people expressed appreciation for the one service. These were some of the benefits of going to one service this summer.

            There were also costs to going to one service. Parking was difficult and could be very time consuming if one didn’t make it into the lot; street parking is limited and the parking structure and stairs are a challenge for many. The 10:00 start time for the service made it hard for some people to attend given their morning schedule. And many people told me that they could not attend due to health maintenance reasons and that going to one service meant that they wouldn’t and couldn’t attend service at all.

            Chris Christenson has been counting our Sunday attendance for at least the last five years. He reports the following statistics for Hillcrest (HC) services, comparing just July and August of the last five years; averages were:


14/15 was 305 at HC (one service)

13/14 was 406 at HC (two services)

12/13 was 388 at HC (two services)

11/12 was 382 at HC (two services)

10/11 was 372 at HC (two services)


            I am concerned with the 100 people dip in attendance, especially when the numbers show we were slowly but steadily building our attendance. Now there could be many reasons for this including the extreme heat this past summer, the economy is better and maybe more people are traveling now than before, etc. And while there is something to be gained by the energy and excitement of one service, I am seriously troubled about intentionally creating a schedule that means 100 fewer people attending services. We receive many visitors in the summer months as well and I wonder how many didn’t attend because of the restrictive one service time slot.


            The South Bay’s average attendance for the past five years were:



14/15 was 36 at SB

13/14 was 49 at SB

12/13 was 40 at SB

11/12 was 36 at SB

10/11 was 37 at SB


            Once again, we were building in the attendance and then a drop. This service time did not change but again, with the extreme heat and possible travel, attendance changed.

            I want you to know that your ministers and staff have not made any specific decisions regarding next summer (July and August) and what may or may not happen. We will continue to digest both the statistical data and the antidotal commentary we have heard. We will keep you informed about plans for next summer.

            The summer engagement activities were, I think well attended given this first summer experiment. At the Hillcrest campus many people enjoyed the extended social hour time and the range of activities were appreciated by many. I know we (ministers, staff and board members) have heard requests for some variation of these opportunities and activities to continue throughout the whole year. Again, know that we are considering what’s possible and sustainable and will keep you informed and updated as decisions are made. Below are the statistics for the Hillcrest activities. South Bay numbers were unavailable at the time of this writing.


Summer Engagement Activities


July 5 = not counted

July 12 = 121

July 19 = 84

July 26 = 73

Aug 2 = 133

Aug 9 = 64

Aug 16 = 89

Aug 23 = 119

Aug 30 = 133


            On a final note:  I am glad we experimented this summer and I take seriously the need to be relevant, responsive and listening to people’s needs and desires. And I also know that we are not in this community just for ourselves and the meeting of our own needs. I know we have a bigger vision than self-fulfillment; we live in a County with people who are looking for and wanting what this community offers and I want us to be reaching out to our part of the world in all the ways we can to say, “We’re right here, we have much to offer and have many, many different times of services and ways you can participate.” Please know that I love leading worship with a full room - it is thrilling and energizing; your ministers and staff are working hard to offer excellent and diverse worship experiences; and you have a part in creating a full room - invite a friend to worship.

            Continue watching this blog for more updates and information as we ministers begin blogging more regularly. Thank you, Kathleen

1 comment (Add your own)

1. Susan Riegel Harding wrote:
Thanks for sharing your thoughts on the summer schedule. We are all always eager to have good attendance.
A couple of questions:

1."And many people told me that they could not attend due to health maintenance reasons and that going to one service meant that they wouldn’t and couldn’t attend service at all."
I'm just curious about how "many" and what sorts of "health maintenance reasons" ?

2. What our average attendance is during the regular year for the past 5 years?

3. Would it be helpful to have a link to the "Blog" on our homepage?

Fri, September 25, 2015 @ 1:39 PM

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