Why Saturday Nights Work For Us

Find out how one church has benefited from their Saturday evening services.

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by Shawn Lovejoy

I absolutely love our Saturday services at Mountain Lake Church We currently hold two weekly Saturday services every week at 4 & 5:30PM. I ran into a Denominational Exec recently, who follows Mountain Lake, and he asked me how our Saturday Services were going. I said: “AWESOME! We love them! Could not live without them!” He said: “Well, keep up the good work. As far as I know you guys are the only ones who have made Saturday Night services successful…in all of metro Atlanta!” WOW. Once again, I’m reminded of God’s favor and blessing on our church! At the same time, I do believe there are some key decisions we have made and paradigms we have held on to, that helped make Saturday services successful:

1. We offer consistent ministry.

Too many times, I’ve seen churches offer additional services, but scale back the ministry they offer (children, students, parking ministry, etc.) during that service because they don’t feel like they can do it….or even because they don’t feel like it’s needed. We think the very opposite. We realize that we can add close to 100 people immediately to a service by adding volunteer positions to that service, and recruiting to fill those positions! Do you see the difference in that paradigm? Sure, our children’s ministries, student environments, and even parking ministry looks a little differently, because the numbers are smaller, but we have still offer all ministries during those hours. Why would a family with children be willing to move to Saturdays to free up space on Sundays, if their children don’t have a place to worship? Why would someone who currently loves serving in the Parking Ministry be willing to move to worship on Saturdays if they have to give up the ministry they love? Getting the picture?

2. We’ve always had TWO services.

We have launched with, and maintained TWO Saturday services, rather than trying to build momentum in one before adding another. Why? the same principles that apply on Sunday apply on Saturday. First of all, more services = more options. Believe it or not, the 4PM service is 30% larger right now than the 5:30! We were surprised to learn that earlier is better for young families in our church! Also, offering two services allows those Student and Children’s Ministry volunteers to serve one hour and worship an hour (actually BOTH of those are worship, but you know what I mean). Doesn’t this make the Saturday services much smaller? Yes it does…which leads me to #3.

3. We have realistic expectations.

Our goal is NOT to pack out our entire auditorium two times on Saturday Night. In fact, our auditorium is less than half full in each of our Saturday Services! How do we manage that? We literally have a Setup/Take-down team that co-mes in and puts up pole and drape across the room about halfway back in our auditorium. It shrinks the room and makes it incredible intimate worship environment for about 300 people in each services. We even use this to a our advantage! We actually communicate Saturday nights as a more intimate environment for people who are overwhelmed by the large crowds on Sundays and want something smaller. If we get to 40% of our total attendance on Saturday Nights, we will be extremely pleased!

4. We are committed to be good stewards of our space.

Most Worship Auditoriums fill up 2 hours on Sunday, and are empty the rest of the week. Really?! We are committed to be better stewards than that. We basically have another campus on our cam-pus by hosting two Saturday services; but we didn’t have to buy any equipment, pay any rent, or go in any more debt!

5. We are committed to be good stewards of our Ministry Team.

Our Ministry Team is not burned out or even weary because of Saturday Nights. Most of our Pastors tell me that this is the healthiest ministry environment they have ever worked in. We work hard to provide a pace, environment, and even simple programming in place that allows our team to lay it on the line on the weekends and then pull back and rest. All of our Staff Meetings happen on Tue-Thur, so our team has the flexibility of taking Monday or Friday off each week. We all go home at 5:00. We have no other weekly ministry activities at night. Nothing! Small Group. That’s all. We also give very generous vacation time and offer a lot of daily flexibility to our team. We will not pursue the Great Commission at the expense of our team.

6. Saturday Services are considered a spiritual decision.

I have told our church we have no plans to ever build a larger worship auditorium. Therefore, in order to keep reaching people, we ask people to be willing to be commissioned to be sent out of the Sunday service and make Saturday Services home. It is a spiritual decision we ask people to make. Gimmicks to get people to Saturday night services usually don’t work in the long run. People respond to a call, a vision, and a willingness to sacrifice, give up their seat, to give people a place to belong and a place to become. Dozens of people who work retail and the restaurant industry worship with us because they have no other option! Saturday services allow us to reach people no one else is reaching!

Mountain Lake first began Saturday services in 2004. After moving in a new auditorium in 2009, we temporarily paused Saturdays due to our larger space. We relaunched them one year ago. One year later, we average over 600 people every Saturday Night! By Summer our goal is to be over 700. Do you get it? That’s 700 more people who have a place to belong and a place to become on Sundays!

Shawn Lovejoy is the Founding and Lead Pastor of Mountain Lake Church, the Directional Leader of churchplanters.com, and the author of ‘The Measure of Our Success: An Impassioned Plea to Pastors”, which re-leased in April 2012. He lives near Atlanta, Georgia with his wife, Tricia and 3 children.