Many of our members seem to be ambivalent about joint services with KSC (Korean Speaking congregation). It is a rare opportunity for the whole church to gather in one place, and yet it must feel like eating with a stranger for some. Attendance is usually lower when we have joint service. We want to change that starting from this year.
The main reason for the lower participation/excitement level is more on me than others. Because our congregation started from a youth group, joint service has always been youth joining their parents’ service. So, this concept of joint services seems to have stuck with me even when our congregation mix-up changed significantly over the past few years. Our congregation is older, and many of our members have no affiliation with KSC.
So, we would like to make a more conscious effort to make joint services a meaningful moment of uniting in worship for both congregations. Until now, it has always been KSC requesting what they need ESC to do. We plan to prepare joint services together with KSC from the early planning phase.
Pastors’ team have discussed limiting our joint services to significant ones for both congregations, which are Outdoor service in the fall and Christmas service in the winter. We think outdoor service is a rare opportunity for us to eat together as a church, which signifies “solidarity” in the scripture. We have plans to make a more significant contribution to food selections and programs to better cater to our non-Korean members. Christmas service is also a great time to join together, as some of our members have children in KSC’s ministry.
I will be honest, joint services often felt like a duty to perform rather than an event I looked forward to. Joint service poses the challenge of overcoming both congregations’ linguistic and cultural differences. But in Christ, there is no distinction of race and age. Maybe it is a beautiful opportunity to eliminate distinctions we’ve made in our head and remind ourselves again that we are the same church, trying to reach more people for Christ with our unique strength. I hope this change reignites enthusiasm for joint services and reminds our unity as the one church.