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Growing Pains When Adding a Service
Growing Pains When Adding a Service

The following points are useful to consider and remember as the congregation faces the addition of a service and the consequent growth:

  • Communication must be much more deliberate and frequent. Announcements, newsletters, e-mail, and other methods should be used to repeat the message.
  • Board and committee membership should represent attendees of the various potential worship services to capture a true sense of the whole congregation.
  • The more crowded the Sunday morning schedule, the less the chance members will have adequate time to socialize and the greater the chance first-time visitors will be ignored.
  • The congregation needs to have a defined process for welcoming new people and following up on people who have not been seen for a while. Membership committees may need to be increased and systems of entry revised.
  • As the congregation grows, more small group programs are needed (including special interest or covenant groups) to help people connect more deeply. People can feel invisible as growth occurs. The use of small groups can augment the social and
  • religious lives of all members, not only the newcomers.
  • Some congregations find that they revert to offering fewer services during the “down” time of the year—the summer for many congregations, but the winter for congregations that attract a higher turnout during the summer months.
  • The time between services becomes very busy and hectic, often with too much to do. Don’t overload your expectations for this period.
  • Costs do increase. As congregations grow, more programs develop, larger newsletters may be needed, and the custodial and administrative staff members have more work. All costs do not increase at once, and it is hoped that more people will
  • share the expenses. 
  • People need to feel that the additional service has equal value, though frequently one service always will have greater attendance. This situation does not need to diminish the value of the additional services.
  • Spontaneity decreases as the congregation increases in size and as planning becomes more necessary.
  • Scheduling and planning farther in advance are often necessary to facilitate communication and calendar coordination.
  • Some staff members adapt very well to the addition of a service, and some never do.
  • Turnover of both support and professional staff members may occur with change in congregational life.

About the Author

  • The regional Congregational Life staff are congregations' local connection to the UUA. All of the program Congregational Life staff have expertise in most aspects of congregational life and each also has a few program areas of expertise. See the UUA Congregational Life Staff...

For more information contact conglife@uua.org.

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