Toward the end of last year, we began filling up our 2 services at 10 AM and 12 PM. So, in January 2007, we launched a 3 service schedule: 9 AM, 11 AM and 12:45 PM. What we have learned is that when you try to squeeze three services into a Sunday morning, you create one optimal service time and two not so great times. So, this spring, the above picture has been a pretty regular scene at our 11 AM service. As you probably know, the majority of our teaching is done by Andy Stanley via video, so what you see here is 50-75 people watching a video of the video service. This is definitely not an ideal experience for people.
Yesterday, Sean Seay (our lead pastor) did a talk called “a seat for everyone.” It was based on a passage in Acts 15. It records the Council at Jerusalem’s discussions about circumcision. The Jewish Christians were very passionate about the fact that all Gentile converts should be made to be circumcised. As you might imagine, the Gentile converts weren’t very excited about this requirement. After much debate, James (the apparent leader of the early church) stood up and said this, “It is my judgment, therefore, that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God.” And so the early church decided not to require that of Gentile converts. Sean paraphrased the principle like this, “We should do everything we can to make it easy for those who are turning to God.” The gospel is a stumbling block enough. We should remove everything else that is in the way of people who are honestly seeking God.
We have come to realize that 11 AM is the time that most people who are newbies to Athens Church are going to attend. If they show up late (like many do their first time) we will most likely only have a seat for them in the lobby. We have, without meaning to, made it difficult for people who are turning to God.
As a result, we have decided to move to the Classic Center. We will be able to once again create empty seats at optimal inviting hours for everyone who wants to attend Athens Church. As you can imagine, this is a move that will require prayer, more volunteers and additional financial resources. We are asking the people of Athens Church to partner with us as we work to create a “seat for everyone.” We are asking people to pray, serve, give and invite. We have launched a new web site with all the details. You can check it out here…