On Sunday, October 22nd, we made the exciting announcement that we will be moving our Sunday evening services to Sunday mornings at Hamilton International Middle School, starting in January, 2018! This decision was not made lightly, and we know that it will take some time to process, so the leadership at Sideris has created a vision and FAQ document (see the rest of this post). We are so excited to see how God continues to use Sideris to bring the Gospel to Seattle as we make this transition. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out to Pastor Ryan (email@example.com) or Pastor Dave (firstname.lastname@example.org).
MOVING THE MISSION FORWARD
Summary: This document consists of questions and responses that have informed everything we do at Sideris. As we move toward taking meaningful actions based on these Q+Rs we all must deepen our dependency on God, his missionary Word, and his Holy Spirit to help us follow.
Questions To Pursue Together
- Why does Sideris exist? [Mission] To help the city of Seattle consider the gospel of Jesus Christ by…
- … Experiencing the gospel in the context of a worshipping family
- … Developing & Activating Urban Missionaries
- … Blessing to our neighboring communities
- Where is Sideris going? [Vision] Moving from establishing to thriving (see below)
- Can we get there with our current set of circumstances? [Staff, facilities, rhythms, systems, volunteers]
- Does a “Sunday gathering time” transition help us get there? How?
YEARS 1-3: “ESTABLISH” (the first 3 years have been about establishing ourselves as a worshipping community)
- Becoming Known in the city
- Starting weekly worship gatherings
- Starting 8-10 Fellowship Groups
- Starting a Leadership Development Pipeline
- Reaching Financial Self-Sustainability
- Finding our Unique Identity as a church
- Identifying a Next Wave of Leaders to prepare for growth
YEARS 4-6: “THRIVE” (the next 3 years will be about thriving as a worshipping & blessing community)
- Becoming Empowering in the city
- Growing our weekly worship gathering and volunteer teams
- Filling out and increasing the number of Fellowship Groups
- Becoming financially healthy & generous to others
- Refining and Expanding the Leadership Development Pipeline
- Expanding Kids Classes (unique age groups)
- Developing Comprehensive Community Engagement
MISSIONAL MOTIVATIONS FOR MOVING FORWARD
Wallingford and the surrounding neighborhoods are full of people who need Jesus and they need the space and the people that will help them consider this Jesus and his gospel of redeeming grace. We believe a move to Sunday mornings will better enable us to help people consider Jesus by these three missional motivations:
- Create New Access to The Gospel Proclaimed
- Create New Access to Gospel People
- Create New Access to one’s human Capacity to Consider
1. Create New ACCESS to The Gospel Proclaimed
Night service has gotten us to where we are and many enjoy the uniqueness of our night service. It definitely allows some who couldn’t otherwise attend a bible teaching gospel-centered church, do so. However, we’ve discovered through conversation and survey that most people don’t make their decision to attend Sideris primarily because it is a night service. Based on our discussions with pastors and church planting experts who have been through this same transition, the overwhelming consensus is that most people (Christian and not-yet-Christian alike) prefer attending (or visiting) a church gathering on Sunday mornings. Our internal Sideris surveys confirmed this and we found that the most difficult thing about Sunday nights is preparing for the upcoming work week (56% handwritten surveys, 45% online surveys). Media conglomerates have discovered these same societal habits, which is why they choose to air their most popular shows on Sunday evenings. This confirms to us that Sunday nights are the night of the week that most Seattleites prefer to stay in, not go out.
Having said that, while a switch in gathering times will be a real adjustment for many who currently attend Sideris, we expect our Sunday worship gathering — and by connection, The Gospel itself — will become more accessible to more Seattleites by moving to Sunday mornings.
2. Create New ACCESS to Gospel People
A Sunday worship gathering is not only a place to receive The Gospel proclaimed (in word, song, and communion), but also a space which facilitates relational connections between the people of God and those outside the family of God. Likewise, for people new to Sideris, but already Christians, the worship service is often where community begins and can often take months for them to connect to a Fellowship Group.
Because of these factors, we believe that Sunday mornings better facilitate these connections because:
- It is easier for new people to attend post-worship activities (BBQ’s and SMV after worship)
- It is easier for the people of Sideris to invite newcomers to lunch, as opposed to dinner
- It is easier for families with kids to connect rather than head straight for bedtime
Making Gospel People (that’s you guys!) more visible and accessible to newcomers of all kinds sharpens and focuses our mission. Newcomers who are Christians can more immediately begin to experience the hospitality and encouragement of this community, which is clearly unique and God-glorifying.
3. Create New ACCESS to the Human Capacity to Consider The Gospel
Sideris is all about deep and honest consideration of what it means to live a God-glorifying life here in Seattle as it is in Heaven (consider = with heavenly body). Sunday worship is one of two main rhythms we rely on to help us enter into the contemplation of these deep and significant things. But here is the thing about this heavenly body (“sideris”): like the earthly body, it gets weary as the day goes on. While evenings can definitely create a more contemplative atmosphere and some would say they peak in creatively, we believe for most people the morning maximizes their ability to focus, absorb, process, retain, and recall. Our surveys confirmed this intuition as 44% of respondents said that a move to the mornings would “help me be more present” (while another 44% said that there would be no change).
Additionally, we must realize that consistency is essential to living a healthy considering life. From our surveys we discovered that up to 53% of online surveys (26% handwritten surveys) think they would be more consistent in attending Sunday worship if it moved to the morning (while 28% online surveys and 60% handwritten surveys said “no change”). We expect if we polled the general public that number would significantly higher.
Why is this? When worship functions as the last “to do” of the day it is often the first thing pushed off the “to-do” list. As such, we believe Sunday mornings will help us to better meet people where they are at, trusting that if they experience the life-giving realities of a consistent and regular worship life they will learn to love regular worship over and above anything else life has to offer.
Other Missional Considerations
As leadership has prayerfully sought the Lord’s guidance, asking the question “What does God want us to do?” we have found these missional imperatives to rise to the top. However, there are many other considerations that we have taken into account and can discuss as well. As you think of other missional considerations do not hesitate to share them with your fellow leaders as we continue to be stirred up for the exciting things God will do through this transition.
While there are surely great things that will be “given up” in a move like this, we believe that there is so much more to be “received” as we take this step of faith. I ask you all to allow yourself to prayerfully receive from the Lord what he has for you personally in this move, as you give up things you’ve loved about Sundays at Sideris over the past 3 years.
HOW DID WE CHOOSE THE NEW LOCATION?
We felt that moving to a Sunday morning gathering was the essential next step to move the mission forward but we don’t have the option to move to the mornings in our current facility and move to the mornings. Having said that, we still believe that God has called us to be a church in the Wallingford neighborhood; which means that we limited our rental facility search to Wallingford locations. Of a handful of locations that made the “final cut” Hamilton Middle School rose to the top.
We love Hamilton because of its location, history, and community connectedness. As you drive across the Aurora (99) Bridge this historic brick building pops out of the landscape; it truly is in the heart of the neighborhood. Centered between the four main arterial streets of Wallingford (45th, 40th, Stone Way, Wallingford Ave), it is easy to find and will provide opportunities to be visible to the neighborhood. As a historic landmark — built in 1927 — connects us to the spiritual and education heritage of the city. Furthermore, by being present in this public building — as opposed to a private building — we believe new and fruitful opportunities to bless our community will surface naturally.
After holding our Easter service at Hamilton last April, we know that the space is more than adequate to host our growing Sunday worship gatherings and allows us the flexibility to find the best time of day to fit our expanding demographics.
HOW WILL IT CHANGE OUR FINANCIAL COSTS?
Yes, Hamilton Middle School will be more expensive, but falls within our budgeted range for Sunday gathering rental expense. While it will be more expensive than our current location, we believe that the increase opportunity for growth will more than account for the increase in expense.
Big Picture: The internal giving (tithes & offerings) has not yet increased to where we hoped it would be at this point in the church’s life, which means that we are still dependent on external support to meet our budget goals. Having said that, much of our external supporters are scheduled to drop off at the end of 2017 per the original financial modeling. However, our leadership team has anticipated this shortfall, and has been diligent to save where we can, creating a significant reserve cushion as we move into 2018. While this move will create a higher burn rate for these savings, we believe this move is necessary to help us grow to a point of where our internal tithes & offerings can catch up to close the deficit. In short, we believe this short-term risk is necessary if we are to become financially sustainable.
WHAT IS THE PARKING SITUATION?
There is plenty of parking at Hamilton. On top of neighborhood street parking, there is school specific parking all around the building that is “yellow-curbed.” These yellow-curbs we will be able to Sideris parking on Sundays. We estimate we could average service attendance of 150-200 adults.
WHAT WILL THE CHILDREN’S SPACES BE LIKE?
One of the greatest advantages of this move will be our ability to serve the growing number of families of Sideris and be more hospitable to the visiting families of Wallingford. Schools are made for children, making the kids spaces safer, cleaner, and warmer. We will have access to multiple classrooms (different from Easter) for kids, which will allow for a growing demographic.
WILL THE WORSHIP ATMOSPHERE CHANGE?
We know that the atmosphere of the worship gathering is one thing many people love about Sideris. This atmosphere will inevitable change and could be the biggest transition for many people. With worship in the “commons” area of the school it will be a larger space and give us flexibility to try different configurations to maximize the audio and visual atmosphere. There will be lots of natural light (which may either be a positive or negative in your mind) but will definitely be a positive in terms of community and relational development.
WHAT WILL THE NEW SETUP/TEARDOWN LOOK LIKE?
We will definitely miss several of the benefits of our current rental space (on-site storage, projector, and chairs-in-place). Having said that, the new space will require updating our setup/teardown needs and volunteers. For many of those currently serving, this creates a bit of anxiety, which is understandable. We are committed — and able — to make the upfront investments to minimize the additional work this will create; such as, a modern, light, and easy to move staging, and moving carts to reduce heavy lifting. We will also be evolving our operational systems to address these new challenges (i.e. increasing volunteers each week to aid in setup/teardown processes)
Having said all this, know that we believe the additional effort it will take, will be (1) reduced overtime as we develop efficiencies, and (2) this new space will allow us to grow our volunteer base and therefore diffuse the additional work over more volunteers.
HOW CAN I PARTICIPATE TO MAKE THE TRANSITION WORK WELL?
- Intentionally Process the Move: Pray about your heart in the move — that it would align with God’s vision for our church. If you are having trouble becoming “excited” please don’t hesitate to get together with Pastor Dave or Pastor Ryan. We’d love to process with you over coffee.
- Embrace the Move – Thank God for his direction and opening doors to a new season at Sideris. Thank him for allowing you to be a part of it! Take some time to celebrate his guiding hand in this discernment process and in your own heart.
- Champion the move – Herald the change to others, express your excitement and answer any questions, concerns or objections that you hear from others. Remember to answer objections with grace and patience; all transition and change is hard and it takes some longer than others to process.
- Sacrifice for the move – Take the necessary steps to adjust your clocks and schedules to make room for the changes. Then ask yourself if you can “own” any part of the transition process. Insert your creativity and energy to make this as smooth and enjoyable as possible. Let Dave and Ryan know about your ideas and desire to help.
- Ramp up your grace for the move – We will likely experience setbacks and frustrations, as part of this move, but do your best to model grace and patience with yourself, your fellow brothers & sisters, and the staff. It may take some time to see the fruit from this transition. Walk by faith as we wait.